In June, Bev Burgess became ITSMA’s Senior Vice President for Europe, taking over responsibility for all European operations and member services. Dan Armstrong, who joined ITMA last fall, spent a few minutes getting to know Bev and learning about her plans for ITSMA.
Dan: You worked for ITSMA Europe before. Why did you leave?
: I worked for ITSMA from 2001 to 2006 and I was managing director from 2003. I wanted to put into practice some of the things that I had been talking about, such as Account Based Marketing and solutions marketing. So in 2006, I went to Fujitsu to become the marketing director for their UK private sector business. I’m glad to say that the business outperformed the market in orders, revenues, and profitability while I was there.
Looking back over the last 20 years, I’ve spent half of that time as a consultant and the other half as a practitioner, in a client-side marketing role. I like both roles, and I think I’m a better marketer for having done both.
Dan: Why are you coming back?
: First, I wouldn’t say that I’m coming back; I haven’t really been away! I was an ITSMA member at Fujitsu, and used both the membership benefits and consulting services to help me in my role. I’ve also judged the Marketing Excellence Awards every year, and contributed to both the ABM and Solutions Councils. In 2011, I designed the Professional Diploma in Marketing for Business Services and Solutions for ITSMA with UK-headquartered Chartered Institute of Marketing. And last year, research I had conducted into the role of marketing in driving business growth today became the subject of an ITSMA Viewpoint
on the commercial CMO
I’m thrilled to be full-time at ITSMA again. I think marketing is at a tipping point in many organizations today, and I want to build a thriving community of B2B service and solution marketers in Europe to help them be successful in the coming months and years. The first step is to go out and learn about the challenges people are facing in their roles. And then I want to develop a membership program that delivers the support that they need. That’s my objective for the next month: really understanding what people are struggling with and what they need from ITSMA.
Dan: What do you find most compelling about services marketing?
: I like the challenge that comes with the complex and intangible nature of services. Products are simpler. You can point to them, touch them, test them; you know exactly what you’re getting. You can’t see services. They depend completely on a changing cast of front-line delivery people. That makes marketing both more difficult and dependent on a different set of tools. As service marketers, we need to find creative ways to give clients a taste, to set their expectations, and to prepare them to buy, while engaging our own people to deliver consistently on the brand promise we make to those clients.
Dan: What companies in Europe do you think are doing a great job in B2B services marketing? And who have you learned the most from?
: I’ve got two answers to that, one concrete and one more philosophical. In our space, IBM has done a fantastic job of setting out a really big idea, an idea that matters for us as a civilization, and then structuring all of their messaging around it. They’ve taken a very complex organization and pulled all of their activities together under a simple brand proposition. And they’ve created clear value propositions for each of the areas in which the company operates. I think they have done a great job.
The more philosophical answer is that I’ve learned from many people over the years, and a lot of them were the sponsors and members I met through ITSMA Europe. It’s the same group that ITSMA members today can learn from. Almost every company has something that they do exceptionally well, that others can learn from. I guess that’s why people love being a member of ITSMA, since it gives them that opportunity to network and learn from one another.
Dan: If you had to pick three imperatives for European B2B service and solution marketers, what would they be?
: They’re all about the perspective that you bring to the job.
The study I conducted last year showed a worrying gap between the people who run these businesses and their marketing folks. The marketers weren’t speaking the same language and didn’t have the same commercial understanding as their peers around the table. So that’s my first imperative: become more commercial. Learn to talk the language of the business with the people who lead the business, understand the levers that drive growth in the business, and focus on the marketing activities that can impact those things.
The second thing is this: almost all of the marketers that I know today are running at a hundred miles an hour just to keep up. The risk is that they’re operating not on insights, but on autopilot. I know, because I’ve been in a similar situation myself. We need to make sure that the decisions we’re making are based on insights about customers, markets, or competitors. We need an outside-in perspective.
Finally, it’s a new world and we’ve got to stay open to new ways of doing our jobs. Every day we hear about the power of data and analytics, the explosion in channels, the changes in customer behavior. Saying that you don’t want to learn about them is not an option. We all need to be curious about how new innovations can help us to improve results.
Dan: Thank you, Bev.
: Thank you for the opportunity to re-introduce myself. I’m excited about getting started.