I was really encouraged when I got my first look at the results from ITSMA’s 2014 Budget and Trends Survey. B2B marketers are growing their budgets and staffs. They are also increasing their spend with agencies. Finally I thought, the hard times are over. Travel restrictions will be lifted, and professional development and market research investment will resume. Alas, this may not be the case. Despite the improving economic picture, marketers are still being asked to do more with less.
More B2B services marketers expect their marketing budgets to grow in 2014 than in 2013. Services marketing budgets are forecasted to increase 4.8%, on average. 51% of marketers surveyed by ITSMA in December 2013/January 2013 reported budget increases. Only 13% will see their budgets decrease.
However, as a percentage of revenue, B2B services marketing budgets are declining. Marketing budgets are not growing as fast as revenue. Marketers are facing tough choices when it comes to executing the marketing strategy. Marketers are increasing spending on:
- Content development
- Sales (channel) enablement and support
- Brand and communications
- Digital marketing (in particular video, blogs, SEO, public online communities)
- Private events, seminars, and conferences
- Marketing technology
- Marketing performance management (metrics, dashboards, analytics)
And decreasing their spending on:
- Public trade shows, events, conferences
- Advertising (traditional)
- Direct marketing (email/mail/telemarketing)
Surprised to see email and webinars on the “decrease” list? We were too. When you look at the data in more detail, what you see is that the declines are coming from the largest companies (annual services revenue >=$1B) that participated in the study. The midsize companies, those with annual services revenue <$1B are actually increasing their email and webinar budgets. Are the actions of these larger companies a harbinger of the future? They appear to be reducing spend on email and webinars to make room for newer permission-based marketing vehicles. They may also be spending less because they are more efficient as they incorporate technology-enabled B2I (business to individual) principles.
What do you think?