Is B2B Marketing Changing Fast Enough?

‘Despite the rapid, decade-long growth of Google and other digital forms of advertising, traditional channels still commanded 66% of B2B marketing budgets this year, according to the “,2011 B2B Marketing Outlook” study.’

I was struck by this headline in BtoB magazine. What does this say about the state of Marketing? Either we are kidding ourselves about the impact of the Web, Email, Search marketing and social networking on our businesses or we are simply not putting our money where our mouths are! How can it be that in B2B, where budgets are comparatively small and market segments easier to target directly, we are not spending more on digital marketing? Do we think it’s a passing fad?

Trade Shows Rule, Ok!

This article goes on to say that the top three areas of expenditure are ‘trade shows and events (28%), magazines/trade publications (13%) and direct mail (9%). Apart from direct mail – which frequently could be replaced by email and eNewsletters – this off-line expenditure is in areas in which it is often hard to show any ROI. In my experience, Sales love events because it gives them an excuse to meet people (often people they already know). But ask what happened to the leads and things go very quiet! I’m not saying there isn’t a place for target seminars and events – but 28% of budget…?

Decisions Must Be Data-Driven

80% of B2B marketers are using some form of digital marketing (what are the other 20% doing then..?) which is a relief, and it is even mentioned that through-the-line (digital plus off-line) campaigns are working, but, reading between the lines, this article suggests to me that many B2B marketers are still running campaigns from within their comfort zones and adding digital activity at the margins (‘Yes, we’re doing SEO’). How many marketers are looking at integrated, channel-neutral campaigns aligned to the sales pipeline and targeted at key stages of the buying cycle? How many are making decisions based on data, not just what they’ve always done or what Sales have asked for?

Not enough.