By Kara Brown, CEO and CRO of LeadCoverage, an Advisor B2B Demand/Lead Gen + Marketing agency.
A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that “marketing budgets have fallen to 6.4% of companies’ revenue this year from 11% last year, citing an annual CMO Spend Survey by research firm Gartner Inc.” Even more alarming is that Gartner reported, “the new level is the lowest since the survey began in 2012 and the first time it has dipped below 10%.”
Interestingly, though the 400 marketing executives surveyed in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France and Germany represented B2C industries you’d expect to be affected by Covid — consumer products, retail, financial services, media, travel and hospitality — there was one standout whose budget held its ground.
According to the article, Tim Clevenger, vice president of marketing at Cambia Health Solutions Inc., shared that they maintained their marketing budget as a share of revenue by their heavy use of performance marketing, allocating budget toward campaigns that directly generate consumer action, making it easier to justify the expense. In addition, Clevenger cited partnering with an unexpected department: Cambria’s finance team.
Ewan McIntyre, co-chief of research and vice president analyst in Gartner’s marketing practice, underscored the importance of marketing’s need to demonstrate its value, saying, “There’s a certain urgency to getting to some proof points to getting to the value of marketing.”
As someone whose B2B agency is rooted in demonstrating marketing’s ROI, I wholeheartedly agree with both McIntyre and Clevenger. Both B2C and B2B marketers are under pressure to deliver bottom-line results or risk losing their budgets. In this changing marketing landscape, the savviest brands and companies must leverage new ways to show their value. Here are three ways how.
1. Rethink your internal cross-collaboration teams.
We’ve always paired marketing with sales in my world, but as marketers, we can’t continue to always do things the way we’ve always done them. Marketing can also partner with other internal allies: finance (as we’ve learned Tim Clevenger has done), legal or operations. Marketing support should be applied to where it’s needed most, so if you’re having massive supply chain issues, it might make sense to partner with procurement to use marketing know-how to prove the ROI. The more successful one department is the more successful the company will be.
2. Build (and use) the appropriate tech stack to show your ROI.
I’ve found that so many brands only half-heartedly use a CRM or marketing automation software. And no wonder — the average company has technologies in the double-digits in their tech stack and expects one or two people to be experts in all of it, which is nearly impossible.
Today, the democratization of marketing technology tools like Hubspot and SEMrush have enabled B2B and disruptive B2C companies with the ability to access sexy data — something only large media companies could do in the past — at a fraction of the price.
But even if you have the right technology, its value is meaningless unless you have someone to provide context and to interpret the data. If you don’t want to invest full-time in dedicated people on your team, make sure you hire an outside agency to manage this for you. Because when done well, technology tools lead to marketing “math,” which helps prove ROI.
3. Be open to learning something from the “other side.”
Yes, B2B and B2C have their differences — different clients, prospects, ROI and expectations — but that doesn’t mean each side can’t glean knowledge from their counterparts.
As B2B specialists, we’re always willing to take cues from B2C marketers to make our clients successful. And because we’ve measured ROI for the last 10 years for our clients, we’re happy to share our thoughts with our consumer-focused marketing friends.
When we work as a community of marketers to foster greater collaboration between B2B and B2C, we’re open to finding new ways to demonstrate value and prove marketing’s ROI, which is a win-win in everyone’s book.
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