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Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Six Top B2B Marketing Research Topics for 2012

By Chris Koch


No doubt ITSMA’s Board of Advisors can rattle off the top issues faced by B2B marketers with very little prompting from us—their knowledge and experience are why we have them on the Board in the first place. But since the Research Agenda drives our thought leadership and surveys for the coming year for our entire membership base, we like to prime the discussion with more than what’s top of mind for the group. We develop a list for them to ponder that’s based on our research as well as day-to-day interactions with members.

Two primary sources for the list are our annual Services Marketing Budgets and Benchmarks and How Customers Choose Solution Providers surveys (this year, we focused How Customers Choose more on how buyers consume information ). These two surveys give us the view from both sides. We know where marketers put their money during the past year and what programs they expect will be successful in the year ahead. Then we go to their target audience (IT and business buyers purchasing solutions at least $500,000 in size) to find out how effective these programs really are.

These and the other surveys we do with members each year help us build a running knowledge of what’s going right and wrong in B2B marketing. This knowledge is continually tested and updated by the discussions we have and presentations we do both online and in person with ITSMA members in a typical year.

We also do custom research projects for members and nonmembers. It’s another way that we get a sense of what’s most important to marketers because it often involves qualitative research where we get to interview marketers and ask them lots of questions.

And then we conduct Insight Sessions (usually presentations or workshops), which we do with members as part of the ITSMA corporate membership. Members tell us how they’d like us to focus these presentations so it’s yet another great signal about the challenges they are feeling most deeply. In addition, we field marketing questions all year through our Ask ITSMA database.

By the time we get to the Board of Advisors dinner (we usually meet twice a year—and we have boards in both the US and EMEA), we feel pretty good about the list we’ve developed for them. Then we start eating and drinking and proceed to have a two-hour discussion that is one of the highlights of my (and our) work year.

Oh, and did I mention that the wine is good?

Here’s our list for 2012:

  • Transforming the Marketing Organization. What are the new models, functions, practices, and skills?
  • Building the Idea Organization. How to use thought leadership to build brand preference, generate leads, and engage clients.
  • Learning to Love the Data Explosion. Realizing the promise of analytics for improved targeting, lead management, and decision making.
  • Preparing for the B2B Social Buyer. Determining the right marketing balance for traditional buyers and the new social buyer.
  • Sales Channel Enablement. Improving the impact from your portfolio of enablement activities across direct and indirect sales channels.
  • Next Generation Account-Based Marketing. Optimizing the model, mix, and staffing across the entire sales and delivery cycle.

I’d love to hear your comments and feedback on our choices. Look for lots of good research and thought leadership content on these issues in the coming year. Happy holidays!

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ITSMA specializes in helping companies market and sell services and solutions more effectively. We work with the world's leading technology, communications, and professional services providers to generate increased demand, strengthen customer relationships, and improve brand differentiation.ITSMA annual program clients include business leaders such as AT&T, Cisco, Deloitte, EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and Tata Consultancy Services, among others. Our comprehensive research, consulting, and training on topics including ITSMA Account Based Marketing℠, Brand Positioning, and Solutions Development provide the insight and experience companies need to improve business results. ITSMA is based near Boston, and has offices in London, Mumbai, and Tokyo. Learn more at



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