Marketing for Digital Transformation: Who’s the Buyer?

Momentum ITSMA Staff

January 9, 2019

Business opportunities look enormous if you are a provider of services and solutions that can help companies with their digital transformation.

Marketing for Digital Transformation: Who’s the Buyer?

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Business opportunities look enormous if you are a provider of services and solutions that can help companies with their digital transformation. As more and more companies look to digitize business processes and incorporate digital-based business models, they’re hungry for a broad range of new ideas, capabilities, and tools to accelerate change.

Indeed, according to ITSMA’s recent How Executives Engage survey of over 400 buyers of complex B2B services and solutions, very few companies are sitting on the transformation sidelines (Figure 1). Only 11% of respondents report that they are just getting started while most are already experimenting, investing strategically, and/or changing the culture. And although 24% believe they have already transformed their business, the need for transformation never ends; it is a journey, not a destination.

Figure 1: Companies are investing in business transformation.

Marketing to New Buyer Roles

The challenge for marketing, though, is that the buyers seeking the most help are often not the ones in our usual target audiences. They are more likely to be C-level and line of business executives with whom many sellers and marketers have more limited experience and tenuous relationships.

As noted in another ITSMA study, some 92% of B2B services and solution providers are now reaching out to new types of executive decision makers such as CEOs, Chief Digital Officers, CMOs, and so forth. We also see decision committees including more players and comprised of cross-functional buying centers.

The core challenge is to understand the different players’ business issues as well as how, when, and why they make purchase decisions for various solution types. Figure 2 highlights the diversity of approaches that companies are taking to transformation, and the different C-suite leaders that typically are most involved.

Marketing (and selling) effectively to such a wide range of senior-level roles requires a more personalized and personal approach to ensure that campaigns and content are truly relevant.

Figure 2: Who’s the buyer? Transformation initiatives cut across the C-suite.

Winning with Customer Insight and Personalized Thought Leadership

Cognizant’s Banking and Financial Services (BFS) marketing team provides a good example of how to approach connecting and building relationships with senior executives beyond the IT department.

Amid a broader company effort to position itself as a digital transformation leader, BFS marketing developed a three-pronged approach, based on deep customer insight and personalized content development:

  • Targeting top-priority accounts and developing deep insight on the most important business issues for each account and specific executives in specific roles
  • Launching thought leadership campaigns with compelling points of view on key BFS issues to position Cognizant as the market leader in digital (executive-level publications, executive forums and digital innovation workshops, C-level executive councils, and so forth)
  • Working hand-in-hand with top account teams to make sure that sales people can leverage the campaigns, continue the conversations, and move into new digital opportunities

Cognizant’s disciplined approach to executive engagement has produced measurable results in the marketplace, including shaping perception, winning mindshare and building relationships with key executives, and unearthing dozens of new opportunities. The three-pronged approach has now become the model to roll out across other vertical and horizontal business marketing teams