Companies are Finally Investing in Solutions Marketing!

companyinvesRich Vancil, Group Vice President at International Data Corporation, delivered a webinar in December on IDC’s predictions for CMOs in 2014.   As one would expect from IDC, the presentation was engaging, thought-provoking and different from many other presentations I’ve seen that have made CMO predictions for this year.

Topics of Particular Interest to Solutions Marketers

The IDC report, "Worldwide Chief Marketing Officer 2014 Top 10 Predictions: The Emergence of the Chief 'Something or Other'" (doc #245057, December 2013) contains a number of predictions that are relevant to professional Solutions Marketers. Here are some key ones:

  • Innovative CMO + CIO partnerships will win the day – Marketing will continue to focus on differentiation and addressing customer problems, but they need to do it in even more innovative ways.  More than ever, IT will play a role in supporting innovation. There are many ways to innovate  – a breakthrough product is what most people commonly think of as the output of applied innovation.  In creating real customer-based solutions, however, innovation can take the form of new services that enhance product effectiveness, new partnerships, new channels, and more creative delivery processes.  Where is the CMO in all of this?  Everywhere!
  • Content Marketing does not equal "Thought Leadership”  --  We all know that content marketing has pushed its way up marketing’s “Importance Meter” and is now a major focus for investment and development.   However, it’s important to remember that not all content is created equal.  The type of marketing content that would support and enhance products is often inappropriate for solutions.   Solutions require that content be transformed from push to pull, from outbound to inbound, from promoting to educating. And if it focuses on real breakthrough thinking or application, it is true Thought Leadership.  Check out one of IBM’s latest TV ads on how they are transforming health care research.  The sound track is  “In 15 seconds, IBM’s Watson can analyze 200 million pages of clinical data to help researchers discover new and effective treatments. Watson is helping researchers make breakthroughs. Let’s build a smarter planet.”   IBM isn’t telling you what they want you to buy.  They’re not even telling you why you should buy from them instead of competitors.  Rather, they’re telling you how they are helping find solutions to problems that are important to all of us – and they are presumably doing it faster and better than anyone else.  The icing on the cake is that IBM is inviting you to be part of the exciting journey with them. That’s Thought Leadership!

Investing in Solutions Marketers– The Most Important Staffing Investment of All

IDC_LogoWhat really caught my attention in the IDC CMO predictions report, however, was that companies will be spending more on their Solutions Marketing staff than any other marketing function, including web content and management, social media, marketing automation and direct marketing.  It looks like Solutions Marketers can finally chant “We’re Number One!”  -- at least when it comes to where the jobs opportunities will be in 2014.

Here is the PPT slide that shows the leading position of Solutions Marketing as a priority for marketing staffing:


More and more companies are finally understanding what we’ve been saying for a long time -- solutions marketing requires individuals with skills and experience that are different from those of product or services marketers, and they’re part and parcel to a successful solutions strategy.

A Critical and Growing Marketing Practice

IDC first highlighted the fact that Solutions Marketing is a critical marketing role for their customers in its 2011 CMO survey.  Now we see that this need for more Solutions Marketing professionals has appeared in their latest study.  It’s another strong data point that solutions marketing isn’t just a fad, or a clever term for “same old-same old” marketing activities.  It seems that more and more companies understand the importance of creating and selling real customer solutions, and they need to hire or develop staff who can effectively market them.  If you’re a solutions marketer today, it looks like your time has come!

If you’d like to have a conversation about how to find, develop and retain solutions marketers, contact me at

shurley50Author: Steve Hurley, Managing Director at Solutions Insights

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