B2B Marketers Are Being Asked to Do More, but not Necessarily with Less

By Julie Schwartz, ITSMA, jschwartz@itsma.com

ITSMA’s Annual 2015 Services Marketing Budget Allocations and Trends results are out! The bottom line? B2B service and solutions marketers are optimistic about both their budget and staff growth.

Marketing Budget and Staff Are on the Rise

Marketing budgets will increase, on average, 4.4% in 2015. Nearly half the marketers in our survey expect to see budget increases, while one-third expect no change. Only 17% anticipate a decrease in their budgets. We see a similar pattern when it comes to the marketing staff. On average, marketing staff in 2015 will grow 3.8%. 44% expect to see growth in their staff. Another 44% expect the number of staff to remain the same. And just 13% foresee a staff decease.


At the Same Time, Marketing’s Scope Is Increasing

Marketing budget growth is a positive sign, but at 4.4%, the growth is best described as modest. Consequently, we have a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that senior management’s perception of marketing is improving as marketers sharpen their ability to demonstrate business impact. The not so good news is that marketers are expected to do more—and those expectations far exceed the budget increases. 65% of marketers in our study say that marketing’s scope has expanded.

For example, in the area of revenue contribution study participants told us:

  • “We are closer to sales, working with account manager, following the ABM approach.”
  • “The Marketing team is taking over the full funnel for sales and driving salesforce implementation mechanics to enable accurate reporting.”
  • “New marketing leadership has been hired to provide more strategic input.”
  • “The services marketing team’s scope now includes solutions marketing for all Internet of Everything and Cloud solutions plus all thought leadership across corporate marketing.”


Additional Funds Needed

How will marketing cope with escalating expectations? In the past, marketers were known to wander the proverbial halls with a tin cup. Not so today.

Other organizations are ponying up with money to supplement marketing’s budget. ITSMA asked, in addition to the official marketing budget, are there other sources of money that you can access or apply to use? A whopping 79% of the indicated that they have access to additional funds. Not only are more marketers able to tap addition funds (up from 58% of marketers in 2014), but the size of the pool is also increasing. In 2014, marketers received an additional 7.2%. This year that amount has grown to 12.9% of the overall money spent by marketing.


Where is this money coming from?  Who’s funding marketing? The top sources are:

  • Business units/lines of business
  • Partners
  • Sales
  • Business development

This is marketing’s ultimate vote of confidence.


Storytelling is Key to Effective B2B Marketing: What’s Your Story?

By Bev Burgess, SVP ITSMA Europe, burgess@itsma.com and Vincent Rousselet, VP Market Insight and Strategy, Amdocs

When Tim Cook emerged onto the stage of the Flint Center for Performing Arts in September 2015, he was about to tell not just one, but two stories. The first one was overtly in support of the day’s launches: the iPhone 6, iWatch, and Apple Pay. The other was the continuation of Apple’s story, a narrative started by Steve Jobs and running ever since.

Why is storytelling such a powerful technique? Stories reach three distinct parts of the human brain, directly connecting with our instincts, emotions, and higher-order, rational thinking. Over thousands of years of evolution, our brains have been wired to communicate in this way: stories turn us on.

Truth is, a war for the attention of buyers is being waged. Every minute of every day we create 204 million email messages, 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook, 100,000 tweets, and 48 hours of new YouTube videos. And this only keeps growing.

Because storytelling engages audiences emotionally, it can help win this battle for attention. No surprise that, from HP to BT, from Telefonica to Orange Business Services, from Hitachi to Amdocs, an increasing number of organisations, having observed the effectiveness of storytelling in B2C, now deploy the technique in B2B markets.

In fact, in ITSMA’s 2014 Budget and Trends Survey, when asked about essential skills for the future marketing organisation, 53% of senior B2B marketing executives surveyed put storytelling at the top of the list, on par with leadership skills (51%) and ahead of data analytics (36%). Sadly, storytelling is the third most difficult skill to find, behind data analytics and subject matter expertise, according to ITSMA’s 2014 Marketing Talent Survey.



“Storytelling is the art of simplifying the complex,” says Chris Williams, head of global marketing at Amdocs, a global software and services company. “That gets harder to do the bigger a company becomes and that’s the reason we’re launching a new company-wide program that puts the art of storytelling at the very center of our marketing strategy and culture.”

So, how do marketers go about creating stories? Simply put, stories have three components:

A plot or storyline: this is the essence of the story, which, according to experts, can be articulated in as few as six words.

A story—or narrative—arc: starting with an opening scene, following various crises including a point of no-return, reaching a climax and finishing with the dénouement, the arc is the journey you are taking the audience on. Think Steve Job’s 2005 commencement speech in Stanford.

A cast of characters, with predetermined roles: A hero and a villain is a good start. When they are joined by other archetypes, the story becomes more engaging. As part of its Rock Stars campaign, Intel put forward the co-inventor of the USB, as one of its heroes.

Apple may for now remain the best storyteller around, but it is clear many B2B marketers are catching up on the act.

This blog post is an extract from a longer article originally published in the 2014-15 Winter edition of Market Leader, the magazine of the UK Marketing Society