I have discovered that a large number of marketers can’t say with confidence what they expect from their 2018 B2B marketing plan. It’s partly because they never assessed how effective their marketing initiatives were in 2017.
Closer to home, even a few of my clients enter 2018 with some anxiety that their marketing spend may not positively impact their bottom line – even though we have delivered consistent and measurable results. This anxiety stems from what I call “PTMD” (Post Traumatic Marketing Disorder), as it relates to investing in marketing. PTMD is caused from years of improper application of marketing principles. The outcome of the disorder is an irrational and negative view of marketing and its potential for positive returns. I have found it to run deep in the B2B world.
Many B2B executives and marketers suffer from this condition because they haven’t measured their past performance accurately and have failed to practice holistic planning and budgeting. I’d like to address three unfortunate and common behaviors that cause PTMD and that perpetuate this lack of confidence in B2B marketing, and recommend a few antidotes.
Symptom #1: You are content to simply do what you did last year
For some reason, many B2B marketers base next year’s strategy solely on last year’s budget. Of course, this approach is flawed and ultimately works much like circular logic gone mad – saying, “Because I have a budget, I have a strategy.” Next year will have its own set of challenges, and the new hurdles may not be best overcome with last year’s budget or strategy. Moreover, if last year seemed like a bunch of money was spent with nothing measurable to show for it, why would anyone do it again?
If executives and marketers want to enter 2018 with more confidence, start with a fearless assessment of 2017. What did you spend? What did you get for it? What worked? What didn’t have the effect you were hoping? The answers to those and other tough questions will help you establish a more effective and intelligent marketing plan for next year.
Symptom #2: You don’t align your media and budgets with objectives
Many marketers participate in annual whiteboard “strategic planning” meetings. If all a marketing team has done is “brainstorm” and called it strategic planning, in reality they’ve only created a wish-list. Effective planning for next year starts after business objectives have been properly determined. Arriving at achievable business objectives requires honest discussions with various stakeholders who represent multiple viewpoints. This leads to realistic budgeting and intelligent prioritizing of media and marketing initiatives.
I am still amazed at how willing B2B organizations are to throw money at travel, lodging and entertainment, all while analyzing their marketing spend under a microscope to try to save $500; thinking only of cost vs. thinking about results.
On the other hand, a client that practices a holistic approach to marketing (whom I have learned much from) would routinely say to me, “Why would I care about trying to shave a $1,000 off one of your project estimates, when it costs me $10,000 just to have a two-day meeting with a few of my sales reps and staff.” He is always bullish that money spent on a well-planned strategy produces positive results.
Symptom #3: You don’t measure and report
Most B2B executives can tell me the labor costs to produce one of their widgets, or the percentage increase in their raw materials year-over-year. But, they can’t articulate from real data their cost-per-lead, cost-per-acquisition, or anything about their digital marketing analytics. It reasons that without real data, B2B executives and marketers will be more prone to making poor marketing decisions. You can begin to see how failing to use analytics and instead rely on “instincts,” “hunches,” and “experience” will lead to PTMD.
Here’s the irony, most B2B marketing strategies and initiatives can be measured to one extent or another. However, it does require a certain knowledge, experience and discipline to know what to measure and to what end. That’s one way a good B2B agency partner can prove their value.
In the end, if B2B marketers continue to carry out their marketing initiatives without serious analysis of their past and without intelligent planning for their future, they will continue to lack confidence in, or understanding of marketing’s role in their sales process.
If you want to cure PTMD, I recommend meeting with, and considering the strategies of a seasoned B2B marketing professional. Until then, I’d like to encourage you to visit our website and download my E-Book “make every marketing dollar count.”
About Nuts & Bolts
The articles found on our blog are intended to educate, inspire and reconcile B2B sales and marketing professionals. We are all fighting on the same side, ideally working towards the same goals within our organizations. At Artime Group we believe that most manufacturers produce more value than they effectively communicate. That leaves money on the table for both management and sales professionals. We hope our articles spur dialog on collaboration and the value of good marketing.