To find more ROI with fewer marketing resources: That is the question

Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing … making room for both

Our most recent SMA/ITAC Think Tank had technology marketers considering the best ways to operate effectively under constrained or nonexistent budgets. The discussion focused on how to do more with less, and how to maximize return on investment even with limited resources. Our key conclusions from this event include:

  1. The focus for digital is shifting to lead generation.
    • Major investments have been made in digital marketing over the last several years to raise awareness and credibility. Now the emphasis is moving to lead generation campaigns, including call out programs and face-to-face events.
  2. Tracking ROI continues to be a challenge.
    • With multiple marketing and sales components in the mix, it’s still far from a perfect science.
  3. Marketing resources are still being squeezed.
    • No single area is being eliminated; rather specific marketing activities might be reduced or increased, depending on the target market and past successes and failures.

This SMA/ITAC Marketing & Sales Executive Think Tank was hosted at GE Grid Solutions in Markham, Ontario by Laure Tessier-Delivuk, National Commercial Leader, GE Healthcare Digital. The discussion was moderated by Bob Becker, Principal, SMA. 


  • Jessica Skead, IBM Software Brand Sales Specialist, Arrow ECS – Enterprise Computing Solutions
  • Mahrukh Qureshi, Business Development Manager, Compugen
  • Shimrit Frenkel, Senior Manager, Americas Field Marketing, CyberArk
  • Doug Long, Director of Marketing, Emailtopia
  • Laure Tessier-Devlivuk, National Commercial Leader, GE Healthcare Digital
  • Mariana Kutin-Morais, Director, Membership and Business Development, ITAC
  • Claude Couillard, National Field Manger, Micro Focus
  • Frank Baldwin, Marketing Director, Mid-Range Computer Group
  • Sarah Warsi, Marketing Manager, Sentia
  • Vanessa Brown, VP, Client Success, Thinkwise
  • Paul McDevitt, Director, Marketing, Unity Connected Solutions
  • Shannon Major, Senior Manager, Field Marketing, Canada, VMware Canada

Comments from our Discussions

Below are participant comments from our Think Tank.  Each event is unique, and the needs of each technology company represented at the event are equally unique. As you will see, there are different opinions and approaches, but also some clear themes. We think you’ll find much food for thought in these comments from our participants.


  • We are moving to an age where marketing is increasingly personalized.
  • Marketing and Sales are more becoming collaborative in their approaches; teamwork is very important between the two roles.
  • It’s still a challenge to adapt to digital while balancing with traditional marketing.
  • Marketing approach can vary by company regions: different regions will try different programs and new tactics while embracing elements from the traditional methods.
  • Targeted direct mail strategies are needed; make it smart, personalized, next level interaction that will result in better qualified leads.
  • Follow through more effectively, nurture the lead and show patience.
  • Road show concept is increasingly popular; it’s interactive and can effectively show what the product can do at the customer site.
  • Because CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation) limits emails communication to individual prospects, more tech firms are doing outbound phone prospecting as well as targeting marketing campaigns at account level using ABM (Account Based Marketing) activities.
  • Need to consider privacy regulations, it’s critical stay up-to-date on latest regulations.

ITAC is a great source to answer questions; in future may develop webinars around specific topics of interest. (CASL as an example)

What marketing activities have you stopped doing in the last few years?

  • Stopped participating in larger trade shows ($500 to $600K ticket); used to participate weekly, now participating quarterly.
  • Decreased participation in horizontal trade shows, they are large and cost inhibitive.
  • Used to do 200 newsletters a year, now do much fewer.
  • There are still lots of trade show participants, but prospects are not frequenting the trade show floor / booths.
  • Reduced attack marketing (spam, e-mail).
  • Stopped subscribing to tools that were not being used (for example, a software application that cost $9K per year, only used twice).
  • Reduced telemarketing, long term funnel is healthy; short term funnel needs attention.

What marketing activity have you started to do more of in the last few years?

  • Started account-based marketing, mini version of a trade show.
  • Appetite for “Road Show in a Box”; customer brand as sponsor and then invitation is extended to a larger audience.
  • Newsletters evolved to a personalized message, personalized news.
  • Experimenting with different mediums; found direct mail did not have a good rate of return.
  • Success with SalesForce, send an item to a client that has been engaged, has already been “vetted”.
  • Phone calling has been successful, internal persons who know the product making the calls.
  • Traditional methods = “Don’t stop doing it, do it more effectively or in a different way.”
  • Increased personalization to prospecting, knocking door to door meeting with great success.
  • Face to face has greater value, more information directly and queries addressed simultaneously.
  • Using MeetUp forum, reaching audience not usually engaged and very useful for drawing in a millennial as they are used to this type of engagement.
  • More attract marketing, personalized, tailored approach, Google-friendly.
  • Focus on organic messaging.
  • Direct mail is working when it is smart mail (ie. personalized message and coaster, URL on back with followed prompts, follow up from vendor eventually; other example shared of name plaques with URL).
  • Direct mail is not dead, rather it is evolving; needs to be smart via capturing a person’s search criteria, who is searching for which items / features.
  • Sales is an important piece to keep engaged / re-engage; knowledge of what the client is researching and then becomes a vetted / warm lead.
  • Familiarity of the known Sales Team results in more client engagement.
  • Depending on level of audience, higher level demands almost solely digital messaging.
  • Targeting unique accounts, SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) brought in, smaller cost, customized approach.
  • Trying to expose the client / prospect to other, less known features a challenge; broadening their scope of what a product can do.
  • Executive engagement is increasing; third party engagement and peer to peer engagement.
  • Activity is marketplace dependent; greenfield development needs more round-table discussion; need for both physical and digital marketing.
  • Engaging top of funnel requires broad selection with trade shows and digital banner ads but is marketplace dependent and depends on maturity of the marketplace being addressed.
  • Transitioning from large trade shows to think tanks and thought leadership events; exploring key problems and solutions while positioning the relationship.
  • Short term prospecting and cold calling more active; use of webinars.
  • Leverage “other” staff, internal, as touch points to client – use of consultants, project managers, sales, equipment (service) staff who have experience of customer in the forefront.
  • Equip sales team with interactive digital tools to understand what the process is, what the experience of the client might be.
  • We plan to better utilize blogs and staff contributions.
  • Need to focus on follow up of 30, 60 and 90 day plans.
  • Show patience and follow up more with Sales Team.
  • Survey follow up can be exploited and mined more.
  • Plan to use influencer marketing more.
  • Micro focusing on big campaigns.
  • Event at a customer site a new idea for some.
  • Focus on account-based marketing, narrow focus and more specific messaging; the more personalized / tightly targeted, the more success.
  • Door-to-door marketing success with developed client leads.

What are you doing in digital marketing?

  • It’s more than one thing that gets them in; it requires multi touch points and many buckets.
  • As a reseller of products, can be limited in how the world is seen via the eyes of the manufacturer.
  • Marketing tools can be limited, complicating factors via regulations.
  • Use of varied touch points, multi touch, variety.
  • Trying to use programs to automate a piece of the process, be more efficient.
  • Marketing is the middle of the process, the glue.
  • Online programs, a few per year with huge (20,000) participation.
  • Day-long interactive conference with speakers and presentations, virtual trade show.
  • Mirrored a European program and “Canadianized” it.
  • Follow up via call center information and longer-term activity information.
  • Shift content to “what do they need today” not so much longer-term prospecting; need to manage the sales team expectation of immediate recognition.
  • Tried a webinar in lieu of dropping trade shows and promoted it via a third-party vendor.
  • Some find AdWords campaigns to be very successful, consistent background effort, while others have had very limited success with AdWords.
  • Use of influencer marketing is very successful; ask a question of the influencers, get them to contribute to an article, turn the article around – can be used in different segments.

How do you track ROI for digital marketing?

  • We struggle with what we are measuring, and the costs that are being incurred.
  • Governance issues and secure content activity challenges.
  • Niche market so how do you convert the “counts”; at what point is there success? How deep do you have to go into the “click” count?
  • Often work with partners (90% of budget), partner has limits as to what can be done.
  • ITWorld seems to have good / high level cold leads; measurement of time of interaction (longer) and contained more readily consumable content resulting in more time spent.
  • Google analytics helped ascertain how AdWords was used, monitoring hits and interaction, bounce rates.
  • Social media and LinkedIn used to focus on specific areas – company size, titles resulting in messaging “in their face”; try to engage top accounts.
  • Tech target engine allows to learn intelligence on what’s going on in the account.
  • Always a challenge to justify ROI to top level executives; how blogs are being received, content being searched, articles being consumed.
  • Sales are not tactical and immediate.
  • Rank the lead and then mesh with traditional methods and time line concepts; need to be more patient with results as they are longer term.
  • Marketing automation via getting all staff involved; leadership believed in a multi-faced approach, encouraged blogging by all staff (tied to performance review) where all participated resulting in reduction of content development searches, easy to measure via automation tool.
  • Mix of both traditional and digital is very powerful.

How can we honestly measure customer satisfaction of programs and events and translate this into customer loyalty?  If we have limited resources and want higher ROI – better satisfaction at our event while decreasing # or size of event – how can we effectively measure our programs to improve them thus delivering a stronger deliverable to the customers who will in turn buy more … through influence?

  • Looking at $500K per trade show, how do we spend better?
  • Surveys are completed, are they used?
  • How are the surveys mined for information and success?
  • Number can be “pretty bogus” and manufactured by the interested parties.
  • Compare a “score” with the industry at large (example – we think that 80% is great but the competition is scored 90%).
  • Have the consumer compare what they experienced (for example – “I enjoyed the live speaker compared to the webinar.”)

Next event will be on Thursday, December 7. Details will be posted on this page.

Posted By: SMA

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