The Marketing Strategist:

Five Benefits of Business Themes

July 12, 2011

Your mother was right: being smart isn’t enough. While some companies are capable of publishing thought leadership that pegs the smart-o-meter, readers are often left wondering: What should I do with this? What does it have to do with anything? Marketers have a crucial role to play in making sure that thought leadership relates to what customers need and what the company does. ITSMA research has found that business themes give thought leadership campaigns a deeper level of connection to target audiences’ needs and goals and give employees a clear, simple way to understand the strategy and goals of the company. Business themes such as Cognizant’s “The Future of Work,” IBM’s “Smarter Planet,” and Accenture’s “High Performance. Delivered,” are becoming indispensable parts of a successful marketing strategy for services and solutions providers. Business themes are not taglines hatched in isolation or with an agency. They are a careful blending of traditional branding, deep research focused on customer needs, and the ability to deliver on the theme with offerings. In ITSMA’s Thought Leadership Survey, 70% of marketers said that they use business themes in their marketing. These themes are intended to provide a clear, concise way to drive thought leadership marketing across the company and across campaigns. In ITSMA’s Thought Leadership Survey, we asked marketers to tell us the benefits they were receiving from using business themes:
  • Relevance. Business themes help take the focus off of offerings and put it on ideas and trends that affect customers. It forces an outside-in, rather than an inside-out, perspective. If the business theme strikes a chord with buyers, they will be more receptive to discussions about how your offerings map to the needs that the theme addresses.
  • Consistency. Marketers tell us that themes are a way to avoid a common complaint from customers: they are approached by different parts of the company with different—and occasionally conflicting—offerings. Internally, business themes help marketers unify different areas of marketing and the business. They can create more localized and specific messages beneath the overall theme to serve their particular audiences.
  • Simplicity. The best business themes are brief and to the point, which gives employees an easy way to understand and talk about the strategy of the business.
  • Integration. Business themes provide an easy, consistent way to integrate content across disparate channels, such as webinars, email, and PR.
  • Longevity. Business themes allow thought leadership to play out over a longer period—beyond an offering launch or campaign. For example, Accenture’s High Performance theme has been running since 2003—and shows no sign of slowing down. That’s because themes are much more than campaigns.
Want to learn the rest of the critical success factors for implementing business themes in your marketing? Read about them in How Business Themes Help Drive Revenue.

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