Despite around half of B2B marketing leaders globally saying their budgets have been impacted in some way due to current economic conditions, the majority (76%) remain optimistic about their marketing strategy over the next six months.
This is according to a new study from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network and leading B2B advertising platform.
The global B2B Marketer Sentiment study, which surveyed 1,700+ B2B marketing leaders from across the world, found that the picture of optimism is uneven, with B2B marketers in India feeling the most optimistic about their strategies (94%), followed by Saudi Arabia (92%) and the US (91%); while only 56% of marketers in the UK and 50% of marketers in Germany felt positive about their plans.
Within this challenging environment, B2B marketers are keen to focus on brand building with more than two-thirds (67%) saying they will maintain, or increase spend in this area in the next six months. The most commonly cited reasons are because B2B marketers believe a strong brand supports long-term sales (52%), and because it helps brands stay top of mind for buyers (42%). More than a third (38%) say that it helps them to attract talent.
Improving stakeholder understanding of marketing ROI key to strengthening future budgets
The research finds that as B2B marketers look to do more with less, proving marketing effectiveness to influential stakeholders in the organisation is critical. Of the companies that have seen budgets impacted, 3 in 10 (30%) say the business does not understand B2B marketing ROI.
B2B marketers globally say that measuring campaign effectiveness and proving ROI of marketing investments (21%) is their biggest challenge right now. Higher than the global average, 27% of B2B marketers in the US and 25% of B2B marketers in Latin America feel this is one of their biggest challenges.
Macro environment pushing B2B marketers to invest in building trust with customers, rethink brand story
B2B marketers see this time as an opportunity to invest in building relationships and trust with customers (28%), and a chance to stay relevant and rethink their brand story (22%). Marketing leaders say creativity tops the list of skills needed for marketers to navigate uncertainty (56%).
Over the next 6 months, B2B marketing campaign objectives will focus on how companies are helping their customers (40%), demonstrate that they are a purpose-driven brand (37%), and show that they are serious about sustainability (38%).
Tom Pepper, senior director, EMEA and LATAM, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, said: “Despite economic headwinds, it’s positive to see B2B marketers remain optimistic about their strategies as they navigate through uncertainty. Pausing ad spend can seem like a cost-saving measure, but savvy marketers know that recovering from a drop in memorability and recall can be far more costly in the long-term. Focusing efforts on brand building can be fruitful, especially as competitors pull back.
It is clear that the biggest challenge facing marketers right now is proving marketing ROI to the business, which is crucial to strengthening future budgets. There is a strong need for more education around marketing effectiveness so the true value that B2B marketers deliver is clearly understood.”
Tom Stein, chairman and chief growth officer, Stein IAS, said: “During the pandemic, B2B brands out-performed consumer brands and were a driving force in sustaining and growing the economy. During this period of uncertainty, the macros are different – inflation, challenging financial markets, the war – but B2B brands will continue to outperform. One of the critical keys is to optimize investment in creating future demand while at the same time harvesting existing demand. It takes a strong brand to do this, and a smart interlock of brand and demand activities and investment.”
Janet Hull OBE, director of marketing strategy, IPA, said: “As evidence from our comprehensive IPA Effectiveness Databank attests, investing in longer-term, brand-building, creative and emotionally-led communications activity builds memory structures which in turn drives brand recognition, engagement and overall marketing effectiveness. We therefore welcome these optimistic findings that the majority of B2B marketers will continue to invest in their brand in times of uncertainty. Equally, we know from our evidence of previous economic downturns that maintaining such activity created a competitive advantage for brands that helped them report higher average profit and better market share growth when the economy recovered.”
LinkedIn’s advice for B2B marketers navigating uncertainty:
- In these times of uncertainty, B2B brands can optimise on recency, not frequency – by building a strategy that steadily maintains brand presence. Advertising consistently helps to avoid memory corrosion and keeps your brand front of mind when buyers are back in market and the need for your product or service eventually arises.
- With B2B brands looking to do more with less, creativity is the #1 most sought-after skill currently which can help marketers unlock new opportunities. LinkedIn’s Creativity Playbook offers best practices, expert advice, and top tips to empower brands and agencies to do their best work.
- With proving marketing effectiveness a top priority for B2B marketers, mastering the language of return on investment (ROI) and translating it to business stakeholders is key. Marketers need to hone the ability to express the long-term value of their activity in financial terms and demonstrate the impact it is having on the business.
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