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ITSMA Marketing Strategist

May 21, 2015

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Eager to recognize the great work your marketing team is doing? Look no further! The ITSMA Marketing Excellence Awards focus exclusively on B2B marketing for services and solutions companies and emphasize excellence in the three most critical aspects of success: innovation, execution, and business results. Categories for the 2015 awards include:

  • Marketing ExcellenceDriving Business with Thought Leadership
  • Enabling Sales and SME Channels for Deeper Customer Engagement
  • Delivering an Omnichannel Customer Experience
  • Capitalizing on Marketing’s New Tools and Technologies
  • Accelerating Growth with Account Based Marketing
  • Measuring and Communicating Marketing Performance

Submissions may be entered until June 12, 2015.

To Really Make the Most of Martech, Look Beyond the Tools

By Nicole France

Nicole FranceMarketing technology may be the future of marketing, but one thing’s for certain: technology alone won’t make marketing successful. In ITSMA’s recently published study How to Become a B2B Marketing Technology Frontrunner, we found that most B2B marketing organizations have jumped onto the martech bandwagon but aren’t yet enjoying the ride. Only 34% rate the business value of their marketing technology investments highly, making them the real frontrunners in this area.

step by stepSo why is this group of frontrunners is getting so much benefit from marketing technology when others aren’t? If you think it’s down to a particular technology or vendor, think again. The real answer is that the frontrunners have put even more effort into making technology tools part of the way they work than they have into picking the tools themselves.

Based on the results of our survey and the insights we got from in-depth discussions with martech frontrunners, we put together our “Lucky 13” list of recommendations to catapult your marketing team into that lauded group:

  1. Building effective marketing technology infrastructure is a step-wise approach. Invest in a solid foundation of backbone systems first—specifically marketing automation, customer relationship management, and corporate website—or other investments will be unlikely to yield significant returns.
  2. Let business and marketing objectives dictate marketing technology investment priorities. This differs from company to company; there isn’t a standard, one-size-fits-all plan.
  3. Centralize marketing technology planning and implementation. Ensure that you have a plan and a budget. Even if the details of the plan change, everyone must have a clear understanding of the direction and common objectives. Figure out what marketing problems you are trying to solve with technology.
  4. Sales buy-in and participation are essential for success. Prioritize early investment in and rollout of functionality that directly benefits sales (e.g., sales insight plug-in to Marketo).
  5. Build some creative tension into the team. Make sure there are both marketing technology enthusiasts advocating new tools and approaches and marketing technology skeptics who reject anything unlikely to provide genuine value.
  6. Develop rollout and training plans for every significant technology tool. Not everyone will need to use each tool, but adoption by those who do is key.
  7. Ensure that marketing ops teams are adequately staffed to support all campaign activity and other requests from other parts of marketing. There is chronic underinvestment here, which hampers adoption and performance.
  8. Make use of outside agencies that specialize in marketing automation. Their skills are not the same as those of creative agencies, but they are important resources for building and executing automated campaigns.
  9. Identify affinity and interest in marketing technology within the existing marketing team. Most marketing technologists have grown into that role from other areas of marketing expertise. Hiring external experts is usually difficult and expensive.
  10. Get over the fear of failure. Experiment widely and fail fast.
  11. Look to peers for recommendations on tools and vendors. Nothing beats first-hand experience.
  12. Focus on relationships at least as much as technology. This includes customer relationships, engagement with sales and IT, and internal marketing buy-in and adoption.
  13. Recognize that results take time. Adapting marketing processes to new ways of working can be protracted and B2B sales cycles are long.

Anything else you’d add to this list?

If you have questions on any of these recommendations or particular marketing technologies, let us know. ITSMA can help.


The Next Step in Your Marketing Plan: Win an Award

By Nicole Martins

Nicole MartinsWhen you’re evaluating a potential new marketing campaign or program, are you asking the right questions? Perhaps the best one to ask is this:

Would my peers think my idea deserves an award?

Not only does the award metaphor ignite the competitive spirit in any marketing team, it also helps frame the criteria by which to judge your efforts. Based on the guidelines ITSMA has honed over the past 18 years of conferring our annual Marketing Excellence Awards, we’ve compiled a list of useful questions to ask about any initiative you may be planning:

  1. What’s the story? We humans are wired for stories. What is the narrative that explains what you are trying to accomplish with this program and why? Creating the narrative helps project members focus their efforts and will help sell the effort to others inside the business. It helps in communicating it to customers, too.
  2. What are the motivating factors? Successful marketing programs always have a compelling call to action. But marketing programs are themselves calls to action. There should be a business justification that leads marketing to create the program. That justification may come from inside, such as wanting to enter a new market or shore up sagging sales, or outside, such as competing with a new competitor in the market.
  3. What is the customer need? The depth and creativity of your research can be the deciding factor in whether the program rises above the noise in the marketplace. Research provides the supporting evidence for a new insight into customer or market needs. For example, persona research could reveal a buyer that you never knew existed. Role-based research can help personalize your message to the needs of the specific buyers and influencers involved in the purchasing decision.
  4. How do you quantify the need? Research also quantifies the needs and the benefits of your solution that are most worth highlighting for customers, such as:
    • Improve efficiency
    • Increase customer satisfaction
    • Increase profitable revenue
  5. Where is the innovation? To be sure, one of marketing’s primary roles is to support sales. But marketing should also help drive the company’s business strategy and execution. One of the ways to do this is through programs that challenge the current ways of doing things, both internally and with customers. Marketing programs should help the business stand apart from competitors in the segment. The best indication of success is when competitors feel compelled to respond.
  6. What are the constraints? Of course, all marketing programs come with constraints. Budget is the overriding limiter, but it’s important to quantify as many constraints as possible because they define the ambition of the project.
  7. What went wrong? The post-mortem of any project includes challenges and lessons learned. Try compiling that list before the project begins. Optimism at the beginning of a project can cause you to overlook obstacles that seem obvious in hindsight. Specifically, imagine the challenges in the following areas:
    • Coordination with partners
    • Inability to reprioritize when conditions change
    • Resistance to change
  8. How do you measure success? Establishing clear metrics before you start provides guard rails for the project and makes tracking progress easier. Of course, knowing the metrics before you start also makes data gathering much easier.

The only thing better than asking these questions at the start of a marketing initiative is answering them once it has delivered results—and getting recognition for what you’ve accomplished.

You can do just that by applying now for ITSMA’s 2015 Marketing Excellence Awards.


Why Category Design Is the Make-or-Break Marketing Skill: An Interview with Christopher Lochhead

By Nicole France

Christopher LochheadChristopher Lochhead, one of the three founding partners at Play Bigger Advisors, is a headline speaker at ITSMA’s June Marketing Leadership Forum in Napa. He sat down with us to talk about his session and why he thinks category design is such an important issue for B2B marketers in the technology industry.

ITSMA: Chris, what is category design is and what does it means for us in B2B marketing?

Christopher Lochhead: Category design is a new discipline focused on creating and monetizing new markets. It’s based on the idea that the company that designs a space is best positioned to dominate it.

Category design is about conditioning a market to see a problem and want to solve it with the new model. Netflix didn’t disrupt Blockbuster, it killed Blockbuster’s category. They conditioned us to believe that their model was different. They evangelized (a) the problem and (b) the different solution. That’s not competition, that’s category design. It’s not about disrupting a market, it’s about changing the rules to influence the conditions in a market and get people to adopt your design.

In our sector, companies that launch products or offerings are almost always doing so in existing categories or markets. Everyone is doing almost exactly the same thing, but in category after category, there is really only one dominant player. To us, that just doesn’t make sense. The real opportunities are in creating new markets.

If a new category takes off, on average one company gets 76% of the market cap in that space.

ITSMA: Why look at market capitalization?

Lochhead: It used to be that market share, revenue, margin, and earnings were the leading indicators of success and drove market cap. But for the last 15 years or so, that’s become inverted. Market cap is now the leading indicator. It’s an indication of who investors believe the winner in a given category will be, and it often proves to be true.

At Play Bigger, we researched every venture-backed technology company started in the US from 2000 to 2014. We developed an indicator called time to market cap (TTMC). This is a measure of where in time a company hits certain market cap milestones. The speed with which a company adds market cap is even more of a leading indicator than market cap itself.

Take the example of Uber. A private company worth $41 billion, Uber has the fastest TTMC of any US company we analyzed. Uber has a massive TTMC lead over Lyft, which is worth somewhere in the range of $2–$4 billion. That advantage gives Uber a currency to do things that its closest competitor can’t. Uber created the category and is the category king.

We call this category king economics. Even for established companies, when you’re launching new stuff, you want to be the company that creates a new space, a new agenda, and that educates the market on that agenda or point of view. When you do that well, you have market pull and you create a market. The effects have staying power, too. Look at Oracle. It created the relational database category and all these years later still has a dominant 48% share of that market. Hadoop is making good progress in creating a new category in the database market, but it can’t touch Oracle on its own turf.

To become a category king, you have to create a new kingdom; you can’t storm an old kingdom.

ITSMA: What does this mean for marketers in the technology and professional services sectors? What should we take away from all this?

Lochhead: In order to win the game, you have to understand the game. If someone else designed the space and set the agenda for the market, by definition you’re a me-too player—and there’s a very good chance you’ll lose.

Marketing departments essentially do two things: help win currently running category king battles and design new categories to launch new products and services into. Where there is still a kingship up for grabs, the goal is to do everything possible to win that battle. Anything less than the number-two position, which typically gets about 10% of the economic value of a category, is a very undesirable place to be.

When it comes to designing new categories, the objective here is to clearly and compellingly articulate a path for your target audience, one that takes them from the way they frame their problems or needs today to your way of framing them. We call this the from-to. The trick is to do it in such a way that they drop other existing alternatives and your product or offering becomes the most desirable choice. You’ve got to get the from-to right, or you’re nothing more than a me-too player—wasting your time and destroying your market cap.

ITSMA: Chris, thanks so much for giving us a preview of your talk. We can’t wait to get into the full discussion at the Marketing Leadership Forum!


Research Highlight: The Rise of Marketing as a Strategic Function

By Julie Schwartz

Julie SchwartzThere’s no doubt about it: more marketing organizations today are operating as strategic functions. According to ITSMA’s most recent survey, 45% of marketing executives report that marketing at their organizations is a core part of the executive leadership team. Another 31% are no longer a support function but are instead equal partners with business development and sales. This is a relatively new phenomenon. A mere two years ago, three-quarters of marketing organizations were considered to be support functions, enabling sales and business development.

How did these marketers make this dramatic change in such a short time? Based on ITSMA’s research findings, there are five primary drivers behind the remarkable shift. Two are market related and beyond the control of any company; the other three are levers the executive team and marketing can impact:

  • Changes in leadership. This was the number-one factor behind the change in marketing’s role over the last two or three years. Leadership changes were either in the C-suite or in marketing itself, and in some cases it was in both. New leadership ignites process and culture change that permeates throughout the organization.
  • Changes in buyer behavior. With changes in buyer behavior and the prevalence of digital channels, marketing has taken on a business development role. At some companies, marketing has gone a step further to become revenue marketers, who are accountable for return on investment (ROI) and driving down the cost of sales.
  • The data explosion. New marketing technologies enable marketing to track and report activity and outcomes tied to the business strategy.
  • A mandate to grow. With increased competition and commoditization of many products and services, double-digit solutions growth is a distant memory. Growth in the current business environment requires superior marketing: differentiation, brand strength, personalization and relevance, a better customer experience, and more leads. The need for growth puts marketing in the limelight.
  • Account Based Marketing. Account Based Marketing (ABM) isn’t another lead-generation program, it’s a strategic marketing approach that gets results. The ROI on ABM is among the highest of any marketing program. Executive leadership is sure to notice when share of wallet increases in the key accounts where marketing and sales have collaborated to build and execute a highly individualized account development plan.

How Leadership Would Describe Marketing


Ask ITSMA: How should we measure the ROI of our events?

By Carolyn Jefferson

Carolyn JeffersonEach month, ITSMA receives a number of queries through Ask ITSMA, a resource designed to give members a quick and easy way to get insight on important services and solutions marketing questions they face. In this column, we will publish some of our favorite questions, along with excerpts from our replies.

Q: Our marketing organization does a lot of event marketing. How should we measure the return on investment (ROI) of our events?

A: This is by no means an easy question to answer! The typical ROI calculation would be the value of closed deals influenced or generated by the event minus the cost of the event (marketing and delivery) and then divided by the cost of the event.

Of course, with long sales cycles (up to 18 months for complex solutions), the revenue generated or influenced by the event might not be known for quite some time. You probably don’t want to wait that long. That’s why many marketers calculate return based on the number of leads generated, number of qualified sales leads generated, and/or the number of relationships built. Some also track whether attendance at the event helped to close a deal or accelerate it through the sales process, though that often requires a judgment call on the part of the sales team.

Here is how one of our members tracks the return on their events, using a past event as an example:

  • There were 132 registrants, 57 of which represented companies new to the event.
  • A 63% attendance rate yielded 83 attendees, a net of 33 new companies.
  • Out of 83 attendees, 11 asked to be contacted directly.
  • To date, two leads have closed for $X.
  • Tracking satisfaction with the overall event and content revealed that 94% were satisfied.
  • The thank-you note resulted in additional inquiries.

The member also tracks cost per lead and qualified leads added to the pipeline.

As you formulate your thoughts on how to measure and report your event marketing results, check out some of these resources:

Do you have a sales or marketing question?
Visit Ask ITSMA to access our experience, insight, and research results.

Services Marketing News

For up-to-the-minute services marketing news, follow ITSMA on Twitter: @itsma_b2b.


Upcoming ITSMA Events

ITSMA’s 2015 Marketing Leadership Forum
In-Person Event
June 2–3, 2015
Napa, CA
Communicating Marketing Impact and ROI to the C-Suite
Web Briefing
June 17, 2015
8:00 am Pacific – 11:00 am Eastern – 16:00 London (Duration: One hour)
Leading Change in My Organization; Managing the Change in Me
In-Person Event
July 2, 2015

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

To view all events, please see our online events calendar.


Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership

ITSMA Online Survey: How to Become a B2B Marketing Technology Frontrunner

While marketing technology is one of the most significant factors reshaping B2B marketing processes and redefining marketing roles, most organizations are significantly underinvesting in both technology tools and the training, outreach, and change management required to adopt them successfully. Two-thirds of B2B marketing organizations are implementing marketing technology and changing marketing processes at the same time. Getting the basics—marketing automation, customer relationship management, and flexible corporate websites—right creates a critical foundation on which to build. This report evaluates what frontrunners can teach us about the possibilities and results that well-implemented marketing technology delivers. It also offers recommendations for accelerating the path into the frontrunner group.

Read more on this survey: http://www.itsma.com/research/itsma-online-survey-become-b2b-marketing-technology-frontrunner/

Capitalizing on Marketing’s New Tools and Technologies
Marketing technology tools have finally become part of the established tool set of B2B marketers, yet few organizations have realized the full business benefits these tools can deliver. One of the major challenges in getting the most out of marketing technologies is that it is a long process of implementation and adoption. It is also something that needs to be done in sequence: without a marketing automation system in place that is integrated with a customer relationship management system, more sophisticated uses of marketing technology tools are impossible. In this Briefing, ITSMA’s Nicole France is joined by ITSMA Senior Associate Kathy Macchi, an expert on marketing automation, demand generation, and other marketing technologies. The two discuss the findings from ITSMA’s recent online survey and in-depth interviews on how B2B marketers are doing when it comes to successful use of marketing technology.

Read more on this Briefing: http://www.itsma.com/research/capitalizing-marketings-new-tools-technologies/

ROI in Account Based Marketing: Delivering Consistent Results
ITSMA research has consistently shown that Account Based Marketing (ABM) delivers the highest return on investment (ROI) in B2B marketing. ABM benefits from a specific audience and close coordination between sales and marketing to achieve joint objectives―with something in it for the client as well. But despite the growing number of ABM programs and advocates, it still isn’t a standard element of every B2B marketing plan. Part of the challenge in achieving the potential ROI of ABM is that results take time. This is a strategic business initiative to grow business in key accounts, not a short-term lead-generation program. To establish an ABM program and secure the ongoing funding to make it effective, you need to establish a clear set of metrics that change as the program matures. Getting the right metrics to demonstrate success, even at early stages, is critical for success. This Update examines the important metrics to consider at each stage of maturity for ABM accounts and programs and offers recommendations to ensure effective communication of results to all program stakeholders.

Read more on this Update: http://www.itsma.com/research/roi-account-based-marketing-delivering-consistent-results/

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