Business marketing budgets are up in the air right now.
In fact, our survey results of 729 B2B marketers last week revealed that only a measly 7.6% of marketers can "confidently plan" their marketing and ad campaigns through the end of 2003 at this time.
92.4% of marketers are poised to make swift changes in their plans if the economy changes in their sector. In fact almost 20% say they are changing plans as frequently as weekly.
We asked survey respondents two open-ended questions designed to dig into The Big Question: If the economy gets much better (or much worse), what will marketers invest in?
o Question #1: What would you spend $50,000 on if your CEO
handed you the money in addition to your regular budget and
said, "Please test something new."
This question was designed to find out what might happen if
the economy gets so much better that marketers lose a bit of
their reserve and try out something they are yearning to do.
These are tactics that marketers have lots of pent-up
demand for. The tactics that will be hotter than hot in
happy-days yet to come.
o Question #2: What would you spend $50,000 on if your CEO
handed you the money in addition to your regular budget and
said, "Spend this for maximum impact on sales."
This question goes after the safe answer: The type of
spending that is favored in any recession. The tactics
revealed are things marketers are not scared to invest in
Plus, if the economy gets a little better, look for additional
spending in these categories first before folks move onto the
-> "Targeted" is Everything; Plus, Internet Growing
The number one most blatant trend about everyone's answers in all categories was not a specific tactic or media, it was the word "targeted."
As in, "targeted email," "targeted lists," and "targeted telemarketing." Sometimes people used the terms "niche" or "segmented," but we know what they really meant. Targeted baby, yeah.
It is fascinating that so many marketers felt required to volunteer "targeted" as the adjective coloring their tactic of choice.
Is it a defensive measure as in "I'd like to spend more money but I promise not to waste any;" or, is it a proclamation of intent, "Forget the big business weeklies, niche trade magazines are where it's at?"
The second overarching trend revealed that not only is Net marketing hot, it is about to get hotter.
37% of respondents said they would devote the extra $50,000 to Net or email marketing as the safest tactic to bring in maximum ROI; and, 57% said they would like to spend their "test" $50,000 on Net or email marketing.
-> Top 7 Safe & Test Picks; Plus, 8 Fascinating Details
Since these were write-in answers, we got a wide variety of ideas, including one marketer who said he/she would like to advertise "in bathroom," and another who said, "I chose direct [postal] mail. Even though I get the worst results, they're predictable."
Here are the top seven tactics that marketers seeking a safe investment volunteered to spend their $50,000 on:
Winner Safest -> 1. Direct postal mail
2 & 3 (tied). Telemarketing and email
4. Search engine marketing
6. Revamping current Web site
Here are the seven tactics that marketers most yearned to test out, if they did not have to worry as much about the bottom line right away (note that telemarketing did not even make the list):
Winner Test -> 1. Search engine marketing
2. Email marketing
4. Revamping current Web site
5. Direct postal mail
6. Launching an email newsletter
Nine notes on the details:
a. Google's AdWords is the brand name that rules.
Out of the 68 marketers who specified they would like to spend more money on paid search engine ads, only one mentioned Overture. Everyone else either mentioned Google (or "AdWords" or "Premium") or did not use a particular brand name for the tactic.
b. Ads in 3rd party email newsletters and ads in print trade magazines were pretty much tied in results. Never expected to see that, did you?
Another note on that front: Several marketers who said they'd spend money on print ads, amended that by adding the term "advertorial." In other words, they would want their ads to look as much like regular editorial as possible. Many more, we assume, expected that their increased PR investment would lead to more trade magazine stories.
c. 28 marketers said they would like to either hire another sales rep, or pay for more training for their current sales team. As one put it, "Training! Our outbound sales are used to the tech boom when their phones rang all the time, now they struggle to make sales the old way. Marketing effort is wasted."
However, only two marketers said they would use the money to hire another full-time marketing staffer; and no one volunteered to invest in marketing training. It seems marketers prefer to put the money into campaigns, not people.
d. Although Webinars are hot now and, according to these results, about to grow even hotter, we also saw a distinct reverse trend. Marketers saying they would like to spend on in-person road shows and live regional events.
Some mentioned they would like to take their top execs on the road, and several said they would prefer to meet one-on-one with top clients. Building face-to-face relations, in order to create long-term relationships and help with referral marketing, is making a big comeback.
"Seminar at customer site to expand to other projects within that customer," said one.
Others said they would keep their campaigns virtual, but would focus on customers as opposed to prospects. Customer-marketing is in fashion it seems.
e. "High-end" direct postal mail was the creative of choice. Many, many, many marketers said that they would do a fairly expensive campaign such as a dimensional (or as some called it, "a 3D").
Others said they would do repeated mailings to the same prospect. Example: "Postcard campaign (large 4x6) every 8 weeks with different marketing message aimed at target market in conjunction with outbound telemarketing follow-up."
f. More than twice as many people said they would invest more money in online advertising as would invest in trade show marketing.
g. Hardly anyone at all said they would invest in technology to create or measure their marketing, with the exception of PR pros who evinced solid interest in Web metrics software (possibly because their craft is traditionally the hardest to measure).
h. Only one person said they would advertise in a newspaper, which makes some sense because most B2B campaigns target national niches rather than regional pockets.
i. When it came to site revamps, often marketers were more interested in upgrading their campaign landing pages (A.K.A. microsites) than they were in the main company site.
Many said they would like better landing pages, presenting a highly targeted offer based on the hotlink the prospect came from, or personalized if possible for the individual visiting. Example, "Targeted search engine ads with auto-generated custom landing pages."
-> Integrated Dreams: Combining Tactics for Higher Response
As one respondent noted, "We've done [each tactic] successfully, just not a simultaneous, heavily integrated execution." Now this marketer, like many others, yearns to take the next step.
Integrated and pervasive marketing fans cited the same popular tactics as above (DM, telemarketing, email, etc.) but this time tactics were combined with each other and aimed at a targeted audience for double, triple or even quadruple impact.
Sometimes the idea was to dominate a key prospect's mind:
"Integrated direct mail and telemarketing effort aimed at
top 50 prospects."
"Trade media saturation, online and off."
"Pervasive online advertising: Sponsorship of entire
newsletters (online ad, email blast, banner ad, newsletter
ad packages) in niche markets."
"An integrated campaign customized to small targeted groups
Sometimes it was sophisticated database marketing:
"Prioritize database marketing effort to match leads to
stage of sales cycle and develop targeted telesales campaign
or email campaigns for leads in each stage of buying cycle."
"A fully integrated email-fax-direct mail campaign database
platform that directs leads through various 'connected'
Often it was to take advantage of the Internet:
"Email followed by prioritized outbound calling based on
"Web site improvements, [and then] online advertising &
direct mail & email to in-house list & PR to reinforce Web
"Print ads that coordinate with promos at our ecommerce
"Integrated Web/personalized print campaigns."
Sometimes the goal was to maximize response:
"Online surveys to targeted email lists (rented and in-
house) followed by telemarketing."
"Permission marketing via telemarketing followed by a
focused email with a specific 'call to action'."
"Combo SEO, direct mail, telemarket, email, all together in
a coordinated manner."
It is ideas like these that make business-to-business marketing a truly exciting profession. All too often B2B marketers are seen as rather boring people, with none of the glamour of B2C with their national TV ads and household brand names.
However, B2C marketers are often so busy trying to influence millions of people cost-effectively, that they can not really dig in and create campaigns to research, reach and interact directly with a few extremely-targeted prospects.
B2B is an exciting profession to be in, especially with Internet so heavily in the mix these days. We are looking forward to seeing many of these integrated campaigns launch for real in the future!
Note: Here is a link to Survey Results Part I, if you missed our issue last week or you would like to share it with a colleague, http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2351