The Marketing Strategist:
ITSMA’s 2015 Research Agenda: From Technology to Engagement
What would you pay for a crystal ball? How about one in marketing, one that would help you predict marketing and business outcomes with confidence?
ITSMA may not have a crystal ball yet, but we’re getting closer to that day with the rise of new marketing technologies, tools, and analytics. Our increasing knowledge of customers and buyer behavior helps, too. Marketers, who have managed the intangible for a long, long time, are on a path to greater measurability and predictability.
This year’s research and event themes cover topics meant to help ITSMA members harness the momentum of change in order to redefine what marketing should look like in the coming years.
Several of our topics examine the ways that marketing technology influences marketing execution: capitalizing on the capabilities of these new tools, improving the way we track and communicate marketing impact, and delivering an integrated, seamless customer experience. Others focus on the substance of what marketing communicates, whether it’s the literal embodiment of thought leadership in the form of subject matter experts (SMEs) and salespeople or it’s redefining how companies deliver products, services, or solutions to customers.
What’s the common thread through all of these topics? Rethinking both the state of the art and the art of the possible.
Capitalizing on Marketing’s New Tools and Technologies
Marketing automation and other technology tools have given us a new window into a world of online behaviors throughout the buying process. They make it possible to track and measure the effect of marketing activities and to identify patterns we couldn’t see before. Rare is the B2B marketing organization that isn’t using a portfolio of marketing technology tools, yet having an integrated marketing infrastructure is still new territory for many.
In our research on this topic this year, we will revisit the subject to examine the objectives, management, and efficacy of marketing technology tools in B2B services and solutions organizations, identifying the level of use and sophistication across the industry and where the current frontrunners are showing the way.
Improving Marketing’s Communication of Impact and ROI to the C-Suite
Marketing tools have also made it possible to put concrete measures on how marketing is contributing to the pipeline from lead generation activities and campaigns. While this ability to measure is a big help when communicating marketing’s impact to management, marketing has a harder time showing its impact on other critical areas, such as reputation and relationship development. Measuring marketing in return on investment (ROI) terms is rife with challenges, yet the C-suite continues to cite its lack of knowledge of where and how marketing contributes to the bottom line.
ITSMA will build on previous work on marketing performance management, but we’ll dig deeper into how individual marketing leaders are improving how they communicate marketing’s impact to the C-suite with or without reference to ROI.
Delivering an Omnichannel Customer Experience in B2B
With all the attention that online activity is getting these days, it’s easy to forget that, as our latest research on how buyers consume information shows, nearly 50% of the buying process still takes place offline. In B2B, personal interaction still reigns supreme, even if a good bit of communication flows through an online channel. The challenge for marketers today is ensuring the quality of those interactions remains consistent whatever the communication channel or point in the buying cycle.
Our goal with this topic is to identify leading practices in maintaining consistent, high-quality engagement, regardless of channel, and scaling them from individuals to accounts and beyond.
Enabling Sales and SMEs for Deeper Customer Engagement
Whether your focus is thought leadership, content marketing, or customer engagement, subject matter expertise is the axis on which the B2B solutions world turns. Establishing subject matter experts (SMEs) and, by extension, salespeople as trusted sources of knowledge, opinion, and advice is central to making any of these marketing strategies effective.
Under this topic, we’ll examine the roles that marketing can and should play in establishing and promoting SMEs while extending their reach by enabling sales to act as facilitators and advisors.
Charting a New Course for Services in Product-Centric Companies
In the age of everything-as-a-service, the line between product and service has blurred, fundamentally changing the relationship between the two in product-centric companies. Cloud services are the vanguard of this change, but the implications extend far beyond these “new” services alone.
ITSMA will look at the changing business and delivery models within product-centric companies and the role marketing is playing in helping with that change and transformation.
We think there’s a lot of good research and insight on this year’s agenda. What’s your take on this year’s topics and themes?