As we head into 2023 budget-planning season, B2B CMOs find themselves facing a variety of economic headwinds. This lack of clarity could cause friction in the C-suite as financial leaders look for areas to cut or require more robust justification for spending.
While some marketers may look to pull back on budgets in an attempt to save in the short term, history has shown that it’s a better long-term strategy to increase marketing investment. The goal is to be strategic with those dollars by investing in your brand and continuing to engage with loyal customers. Every economic downturn eventually ends, and brands often can gain market share through strategic investments that deliver a strong brand promise, great experience and great products or services.
To build on that point, B2B CMOs should consider emulating the spending patterns of successful high-growth organizations when conducting and justifying their budget planning process for the next fiscal year.
Let’s look at some of the most up-to-date thinking around how to shape 2023 priorities with stability and growth in mind.
1) Don’t freeze marketing spending
Forrester’s 2022 B2B Marketing Survey checked in with 340 B2B leaders around the world and found that companies that experienced annual revenue growth of at least 20% weren’t skimping on marketing dollars. In fact, 51% invested between 6.1-9.1% in marketing. Just a third of companies with declining or flat revenue spent at those rates—and were less likely to see a budget increase.
2) Understand buyer behavior
Deloitte’s September 2022 edition of The CMO Survey found that customers are continuing a trend noticed during the height of the pandemic: a clear preference for trusted brands and an emphasis on quality and service. Where do your buyers stand? Consider persona-driven research to identify any changes to your buyers’ preferences.
After all, marketing efforts must connect to programs that drive brand awareness, demand generation and post-sales engagement with a personalized experience.
3) Enrich your brand
This uncertain time gives you the opportunity to go back to basics and clarify and strengthen your value proposition. 40% of respondents to Deloitte’s CMO Survey report engaging with this core activity. Fine tune your reasons to believe, then go to market with brand-awareness programs to encourage a deeper connection between buyers and your products and services.
4) Implement a purpose-driven brand
In addition to quality, today’s buyers (especially Millennial and Gen Z) are increasingly eager to connect in meaningful ways. Forrester survey respondents give top preference to the importance of aligning your brand with your environmental, social and corporate responsibility vision. Continue to enhance that connection—and tell that story effectively to mission-driven customers.
5) Center CX through all channels
Customer experience needs to be baked into all your efforts, including both digital and traditional. That means retooling marketing communications with more relevant messaging, marketing channels and personalized experiences.
6) Nurture current customers
Make sure your customer experience efforts continue through the sales cycle and fulfillment process. Post-sale customer engagement is important to retain existing customers, drive organic growth within existing customers and create brand advocates.
7) Double down on digital transformation
Marketers are noting they’ve made progress on the path towards complete digital transformation, with The CMO Survey identifying a 20% jump year over year in the number of marketers describing their status as “emerging" and a 10% leap in “fully integrated.” Continual assessment of your results can guide investments.
8) Balance digital with traditional
The pandemic drove deep investment in digital experiences, but that emphasis is changing for some industries. Deloitte reports that the mix of traditional v. digital spending varies by industry, but traditional was up overall by 2.9% in early 2022 — but down .7% by mid-year. Paid media and mobile are preferred digital tools.
9) Realize the potential of data
Data makes or breaks marketing. Internal data, such as ROI, helps identify effective programs, target effort and secure additional funding. Customer data, including pain points and marketing engagement, helps tailor messages, channels and offers. But your organization needs the staff talent and technical resources to analyze data and leverage insights.
As you look to 2023, remember that uncertainty can be your opportunity. Through carefully planning, a return to marketing fundamentals and continued digital transformation, your organization—and your marketing initiatives—can see meaningful results and progress.