An A-Z of B2B marketing: B stands for… Budget

I’ve selected Budget as the B in my A-Z of B2B Marketing because financial implications have a much more heightened significance in B2B than B2C. This, I think, is for a number of reasons:

  1. B2B brands are often built on credibility rather than more emotional bonds
  2. B2B activity is usually less brand related and more lead generation and nurture focused
  3. B2B customers can’t easily be reached by advertising any more
  4. Budgets (outside technology and financial) are commonly considerably smaller in B2B.

From experience, I think the B2B sales pipeline requires a more integrated mix that blends PR, advertising, direct marketing, events, training, sales and distributor support and increasing consideration for customer experience online.

You don’t see B2B brands taking out pages in the weekend supplements, prime time commercial radio slots, splashes on the Yahoo! home page or half time Super Bowl or Oscars advertising for a reason. [As an aside, did you know that a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl was a cool $4m, with the Oscars priced at $1.8m]. That’s an awful lot of brand awareness.

Budget matters in B2B because we need to see conversion and a steady movement towards conversion in increasingly niche clusters of customers.  This in part explains to rise to dominance of Google in analytics – and the myriad of companies offering the same or similar in the area of analytics, web traffic tracking and conversion.

 

Managing a marketing budget and investing in the right activities, tools and technologies is one of the biggest challenges facing the modern B2B marketer. There are lots of ways to dump budget fast – that’s probably why big ticket items like advertising campaigns and trade shows are the first to go when budgets get cut.

You can make it easier for yourself if your business has a clear picture of

  1. Who your audience is
  2. Understanding their points of pain
  3. Understanding how what you offer resolves pain
  4. Understanding where they hang out and how to reach them

Try assessing your marketing spend in a way that fits more agreeably with how the boardroom plan for the business. Instead of a long shopping list of linked activities, try mapping spend across the following parameters. See if you are promoting the best bits of your offer to the right people by comparing where and how you currently invest.

Increasingly, marketers are mapping spend to retention, acquisition using simplified models like this:

  • 60% – Investing in service and expertise that adds value, retains and grows business with existing customers.
  • 30% – Investing in promotion to support new business customer acquisition goals (relative to the growth objectives in this area)
  • 10% – Risk taking: investing in new technologies, a new customer segment or geographical market. This is your safe playground to try different things. This spend is mapped out and ring fenced.

Anyway you look at it, whether you take a simplified or complicated view, money matters in when it comes to B2B marketing. And that puts budget at the heart of your strategy.

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A positive Budget for business?

Millions of words have already been written on the subject of the 2010 Budget. What we know in business is that we have been in the deepest recession in sixty years; one which has left a large number of skilled people unemployed, many companies out of business and an economy that is barely growing.

There was probably more hope than expectation in the run up to yesterday’s Budget statement. Remember, on the back of a grim recent economic period, we are about to enter into a General Election. If we’re honest we knew there would be little in the form of stimulus or giveaway with a huge blackhole in our national accounts to somehow fill.

That said, there were reasons to be cheerful. The cut in business rates will have a positive effect on scores of businesses and may even allow a significant number to continue trading and keep people in employment. Entrepreneurs have been incentivised to continue investing in UK PLC with a doubling of their capital gains tax relief. A new body will look to reduce the administrative burden associated with setting up and running a business. And there are a number of new investment initiatives, not least in manufacturing, which will provide some stimulus too.

It was a budget perhaps designed to appease business, and yes secure some additional Labour votes. It was inevitably thin on the deficit, and thin on the details on cuts required. From a business perspective it could have been worse, and better.

But, I think the best thing we can do is look ahead positively, focus on what we do well and do more of it, target our activity to our best and most profitable customers, and wait and see how takes on the reins of Government in May.