Where should heads of marketing focus their budgets in 2023? Should they trust conventional channels or try to reverse the trend of diminishing leads by following changing media consumption habits? Move to gamification or augmented reality?
Let’s seek expert advice across the globe.
BBN – the world’s B2B agency – is in the business of enhancing company and enterprise fortunes from the U.S. to Australia. BBN’s leaders on four continents have seen many peaks and valleys. They know what it takes to weather a downturn; here we explore their views.
Gartner’s annual CMO Spend and Strategy Survey captures the state of marketing in 2022. It says that spending has increased but still lags behind pre-pandemic spending. The same survey says that 61% of CMOs report they lack the in-house capabilities to deliver on their strategies.
As recession becomes a reality in the Western world, almost all North American and European business leaders will struggle, as they have no experience leading firms in the midst of inflation.
Due to these uncertainties, internal pressures are high. The latest B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report found that 67% of respondents are being asked to do more with the same resources as the year before.
“We can expect the strong spending in digital marketing to continue. Online channels represented 56% of 2022 marketing budgets. Social advertising ranked first among the tactics used, followed by paid search and digital display advertising”, says John Buscemi, Principal at BBN USA-Ohio.
“Extending or expanding the level of digital marketing activity equips B2B marketers with ways to optimise their budgets in the face of economic uncertainty heading into 2023,” Buscemi continues.
Inbound is not the silver bullet
“Stop thinking that inbound marketing alone will give loads of leads,” advises Andreas Thue, Managing Director of BBN Norway. “There is no secret sauce to marketing; there will be a renaissance of working with sound strategy, messaging, and smart credible distribution.”
Thue sees 3 trends in 2023:
1.Investments in data-driven marketing to demonstrate marketing effectiveness
2. Investments in brand building through a focus on credible content marketing
3.A more-for-less approach – consolidating agencies and insourcing
“So the best advice: stay alert, spend money wisely and ensure that whatever you do can be measured and is aligned both with the corporate strategy and with sales,” says Morten Kornerup, founder of BBN Denmark. He continues: “The world is changing, and if you don’t change with it, you die.”
Make the CSO your best friend
Andrew Haussegger, CEO of BBN Australia, sees a strong reason to finally align forces with sales: “The CMO will need friends in the C-suite who support the idea of marketing retaining both budget and people. In this, the head of sales will be an invaluable ally. Given the ‘impending downturn’, the time is now for the B2B CMO to strategise and plan with sales.”
Haussegger also trusts account-based marketing as a tool to for efficiencies: “Done well, you will minimise wastage in media adverts, content, data and nurturing and be more relevant in your comms – things all CMOs want, especially in down times.”
“You also have to remember that only 5% of all possible buyers are in the market at any given time,” adds Haussegger. “The knee-jerk reaction in a downturn is to focus on the short-term – campaigns, leads and outcomes – and disregard building the brand and awareness for the longer term. When the market comes back, you want to be in the top three of considered brands, and if you are, you have a 90%+ chance of being selected.”
For efficiencies, look closer
“2023 will go in a downward direction, which will manifest in shrinking budgets because of the recession. Just see the Q3 reports of the big tech companies Alphabet and Meta,” states Attila Rasko, general manager of BBN Hungary. “The pressure on budgets will shift spending towards lead acquisition activities and brand awareness and communication will suffer.”
Rasko’s remedy includes interesting low-cost solutions: “I think it will be important to lean into outcome-based channels to increase conversion, apply cost-effective strategies that maximise return on investment and minimise risk. Affiliate and partnership marketing, influencer marketing, and employee advocacy could be winning tactics, for example.”
Pedro Guillen, Managing Director at BBN Spain, anticipates that much marketing investment will focus on protecting the customer base and positioning technology solutions capable of solving immediate problems in an uncertain environment. “The budget reduction will be accompanied by an increase in the return on investment for each dollar invested.”
To rectify the issues ahead, Guillen suggests that “marketing leadership in an inflationary and recessionary environment requires two fundamental attributes: flexibility and adaptation. The best way to do this is without a doubt having a support system that goes beyond internal teams and allows rapid adaptation to the environment and optimal management on a restricted budget.”
Conclusion: be an innovative companion
To summarise,there are five essential actions to take in 2023:
- Create alliances inside the organisation to prove marketing value for sustainable revenue.
- Utilise value chain connections more effectively.
- Find cheap new channels to reach the target audience.
- Focus on luring key accounts together with sales.
- Don’t cut down on your long-term awareness activities.