Why B2B Companies Spend More on Collateral than Digital Marketing

Much of what we do as marketers is invisible. That does not sit easy with me, and I bet it doesn’t sit easy with you either. But think about it. What was once visible is now invisible. Senior executives, line of business executives, and sales teams don’t necessarily see what marketing is doing and producing. What do they see? They see fewer events and tchotchkes. They don’t see the pile of printed whitepapers or glossy brochures.

Many executives still have a hard time understanding the value of building the brand—the classic intangible asset. But now marketing assets are even more intangible. There’s the contact database, the business rules in the marketing automation system, the followers on Twitter.

Search engine optimization is a perfect example of invisible marketing. It takes a lot of knowhow and effort to stay on top. You are doing things like blogging, tagging URLs, linking to blogs, tweeting and retweeting. Social activity boosts rankings. But very few people appreciate this behind-the-scenes work.

The invisibility of marketing creates resistance to change. Sales want the hard copy white paper. They want to collect business cards at the trade show and schmooze at the cocktail party. Your non-marketing colleagues are holding on to what they know and understand. This resistance holds you back.

As a result, transforming the marketing mix is slow process. We see in ITSMA’s most recent Annual Budget and Trends Survey that the digital marketing budget continues to grow, but it is dwarfed by the offline budget. The digital marketing budget is only 14% of the total marketing communications budget, and a mere 4.1% of the total marketing budget. Companies still spend more on collateral than they do on digital marketing!

 Digital Marketing Budget

But luckily this isn’t the case for all the companies. Let me give you a bit more insight into the data. It is interesting to look at the range of spend on digital marketing. It went from a low of 0% to a high of 40% of the marketing communications budget. In fact quite a few companies spend 40% or close to it. Could that be the magic number? Over the next few years, ITSMA expects to see many more companies allocating closer to 40% of the marketing communications budget on digital marketing.


  1. Pingback: What is Your Biggest Marketing Spend?

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