2011 B2B Marketing Budgets

B2B Marketing BudgetsA recent study by Marketing Sherpa showed a breakdown of B2B marketing budgets in 2011. Frankly, I’m shocked to see how businesses are allocating their marketing dollars. I propose B2B marketing companies re-prioritize their budgets by re-allocating dollars from one marketing investment to another to produce a higher ROI and generate more revenue. Specifically, marketing investments in website design and trade shows should be decreased while marketing investments in social media, marketing automation and lead nurturing should be increased.

Increasing B2B Marketing Budgets

Marketers must recognize it’s a buyer’s world. More and more buyers conduct research online before ever contacting a vendor. The internet-era changed the landscape of sales and marketing. Data sheets, white papers, webinars, blogs, forums, public profiles, employees, competitors and more can be researched without ever picking up the phone. It’s the same concept as in the B2C world when consumers buy a car. Case in point, Polk and Autotrader.com conducted a survey of 4,005 U.S. consumers and found 71% of those surveyed conducted research online before buying their car.

2011 B2B Marketing BudgetsThe same process applies to the B2B world. More than 80% of B2B buyers research the internet for answers about products and services before calling a sales rep. With the proliferation of mobile phones and tablets this percentage will surely rise. B2B marketers have got to be in the right place at the right time (social media), monitor/listen to buyer’s behavior (marketing automation) and engage prospective buyers (lead nurturing). As the volume of online and/or digital activity increases, so does the opportunity to interact and engage with potential buyers. Lead nurturing helps B2B marketers create meaningful dialogue with prospects based on their research and interests. The net result of lead nurturing is stronger relationships and shorter sales cycles as prospects will keep you top of mind through consistent and on-target communications. For these reasons B2B marketing budgets should include social media, lead nurturing and marketing automation as a high priority.

But, what if there’s no more money in the budget for these items? That’s an easy problem to solve. Reduce investments in website design and trade shows and re-appropriate the funds.

Decreasing B2B Marketing Budgets

Trade shows are generally a thing of the past and put pressure on B2B marketing budgets. We’re not implying you completely do away with trade shows; however, reduced investment should be considered. Trade shows are expensive and usually cost about $10,000 minimum just to get in the door. Do yourself a favor and analyze ROI from past trade shows. The easiest way to do this is to look at past sales wins and identify if the lead came from a trade show. If you can’t tie revenue to your trade show investments they’re not worth it. Although, attending a trade show might help prospects recognize your brand/image; sometimes you’ve just got to show up. My advice is to pick a few select trade shows that you must attend and get an exhibitor pass for the others.

As for website design, I encourage B2B companies consider moving their website into a content management system (CMS) such as Drupal or WordPress. These tools have very professional off-the-shelf themes and several plug-ins for search engine optimization, blog authoring and more. You might spend a little more up front to change your site but its well worth it over time. Many of the processes which you rely on 3rd parties for can be automated and you’ll have more control over your content and of course, reduce costs.

Take your money saved from trade shows and website development and invest in social media, lead nurturing and marketing automation.

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