Tagged: thought leadership

Research Results: The Best that Boston has to Offer ITSMA Conference Attendees

By Julie Schwartz, ITSMA, jschwartz@itsma.com

MakeWayForDucklingsBostonAre you coming to ITSMA’s 20th Annual Marketing Conference: The New Face of Marketing? If yes, then you are coming to one of the best cities during the best time of the year. You might even be in Boston to celebrate the World Series Championship (but I don’t want to jinx it.) If you have been to Boston before, you know there is plenty to do and some fabulous restaurants. If you haven’t you are in for a treat!

To help you make the best choices for your free time, I did some research. I surveyed the experts at ITSMA and have compiled their recommendations here.

From our Director, Administration & Event Logistics, Carolyn (Be sure to thank her for everything because she makes the conference magic happen):

From Dianne, Research Associate extraordinaire (and you better believe she knows her Korean food!):

  • I am a huge fan of live music so for the music fans: The Sinclair in Harvard Square is an excellent venue (restaurant and live music)
  •  Walking around Newbury Street/Boston Public Gardens (pretty for fall)
  •  Museum of Fine Arts. Currently has an exhibition called “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World; very provocative!
  • BonChon Chicken in Harvard Square has amazing fried chicken (spicy/Korean style!) In addition to the amazing chicken there are traditional Korean dishes as well
  • There is a brand new Korean restaurant (the original is in Allston) called Kaju Tofu House. The soft tofu stew is a MUST.
  • Not Korean but awesome: Saloon in Davis Square is a speakeasy inspired bar/restaurant (the entrance is so inconspicuous that I always walk right past it and have to turn around). Can’t speak for the food because I haven’t eaten there but the drinks are excellent and the ambience/interior is amazing
  • Toscanini’s ice cream for dessert in Central Square, very famous

From our eloquent Research and Thought Leadership Director, Dan: (Dan is relatively new to Boston. He just recently celebrated his one-year anniversary in Bean Town, so he was very happy to receive everyone else’s recommendations.  You can wish him a happy anniversary):

  • Koreana in Cambridge (Korean, gorgeous presentation, more Central Square but walking distance from Harvard) [Editor’s note: why does the research staff like Korean food so much? I will have to research this further…]
  • Club Passim in Harvard Square (the music more than the food)
  • Hana Sushi in North Cambridge (creative California-style sushi)

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From Ashley, the administrative assistant who is the wind beneath our wings:

  • Favorite things to do:  The New England Aquarium is fun, and they just did a big expansion.
  • Favorite local flavor restaurants:
    • The Union Oyster House which was really old and cool, with great food (amazing cornbread)
    • Legal Seafoods is another Boston tradition with many locations, but there is one across the street from the Aquarium

From our fearless leader, Dave:

From our European Senior VP, Bev (what does she know about Boston? Better to ask her about London)

  • Favorite things to do:  Take a boat tour around the harbour [editor’s note: See what I mean? Bev doesn’t even know how to spell harbor)
  • Favorite local flavor restaurants: Eat at the Blue Dragon, newly opened at the waterfront

Dirk, everyone’s favorite Director, Client Engagement, really knows his stuff despite the fact that he hails from LA, not Boston.

  • Walk Harvard campus/Harvard Square
  • Visit Yankee Candle headquarters—just across the street from where Kathy lives in Western Massachooseitz. One of New England’s most popular destinations! (allow for travel time)
  • Walk the Freedom Trail
  • Eat fresh scalps [editor’s note: I am going to assume he meant scallops, but you never know…]

Jeff, ITSMA’s  ABM guru seconds the votes for Faneuil Hall, The Freedom Trail, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Kathy, the woman who lives across the street from the Yankee Candle headquarters didn’t have that on her list. Hmmm…Here are her suggestions:

And finally from Cynthia, the woman who has the honor of sorting out Obamacare for ITSMA:

So there you have it–plenty to do in Boston and Cambridge. But wait, there’s more! Check out what last year’s ITSMA Conference attendees had to say:

4 Types of Thought Leadership That Work Well In the Later Stages of the Purchase Process

I am delighted to have Dan Armstrong, Director Research and Thought Leadership, ITSMA as a guest writer on my blog. Dan is an excellent writer, researcher, and analytical thinker. Enjoy! —Julie, jschwartz@itsma.com

Dan_photoBy Dan Armstrong, ITSMA, darmstrong@itsma.com 

Many salespeople use thought leadership like fishermen use chum: They spread it around the boat and hope that a big fish will come near. That’s fine as far as it goes. But there’s more to sales than leads. Thought leadership has the power to engage customers throughout the buying process.

According to ITSMA’s just-completed study on thought leadership selling, only one-fifth of the B2B services marketers who create thought leadership say they excel at using it to empower the sales force (as opposed to other purposes, like reputation-building). This elite group of marketers uses thought leadership not just to create epiphanies, but to continue to engage buyers at every step.

Almost everyone uses thought leadership at the start. But the farther into the buying process you go, the bigger the gap between the leaders – or the “sales enablers,” as we call them – and the  “publishers.” The sales enablers find way to demonstrate their thought leadership again and again, at every stage, and don’t stop even when the sale is made and the process becomes one of nurturing and strengthening the relationship.

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Think of the purchase decision as a four-step process, starting with epiphany, moving through awareness, interest, and confidence, and ending with loyalty and an endless loop of new purchases.

In the awareness stage, sales works to clarify the customer’s objectives and identify a short list of potential solutions.  They submit a proposal in the interest stage. They show why it’s the best one in the confidence stage. They proactively reach out and make sure that the customer remains happy in the loyalty stage. In each of these stages, thought leadership can continue to give customers yet another reason to take the next step.

Recall the ITSMA definition of thought leadership: “Ideas that educate customers and prospects about important business and technology issues and help them solve those issues—without pitching.” Here are four types of thought leadership that work well in the later stages of the purchase process. Each is educational. Each helps customers address their business and/or technology issues. Each leads to a conversation.  Each is more targeted than typical early-stage top-of-the-funnel content. And while any of them can be a pitch, none of them needs to be a pitch.

  1. Case studies.  A case study highlights a problem and potential solution using a story about someone in a job and an industry sector similar to the customer. It brings the power of narrative and empathy to bear on the customer’s problem. If it’s a real case study about a customer willing to serve as a reference, the case study may be useful in the confidence stage, when the purchaser is ready to buy.
  2. ROI calculators.  An ROI calculator may not sound like thought leadership. But it is in the sense that it helps customers consider costs and returns that they might otherwise overlook.  A calculator also offers you a chance to define the problem in terms that show your solution off to its best advantage. You can surface hidden costs and highlight those that competing products impose. The breakout of costs and returns may also suggest ways that other departments and functions can benefit, leading to a stronger business case.
  3. Benchmarking or self-assessment tools. These are designed to help the customer compare the company’s current state to some ideal state, highlight the gaps, and think about steps that could be taken to close them. Using a tool like this can be fun, interactive, and bring a surprise at the end. The thought leadership aspect lies in the definition of the reference model – the ideal to which the real is compared.
  4. Your people. When a company buys services, it’s buying people. Specifically, it is buying the time, expertise, and viewpoint of subject matter experts.  Your experts are the human manifestation of your thought leadership. To the extent you can facilitate their interaction with buyers, you’re demonstrating your ability to lead with ideas. Alternately, you can think of your subject matter experts as a product demo.

A rule that writers follow is “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of telling customers about the expertise your company has, use thought leadership to show off the expertise – both at the start of the sales cycle and all the way through.  That’s a key trait that separates the accomplished thought leadership sellers from those that merely publish.