Despite being beset by continued economic woes and global turmoil, 40.8% of b2b companies will boost their marketing budgets this year, according to BtoB's "2012 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans" survey. The survey also found that marketers overall are shifting spending into lower-cost online and social media programs. The annual study is now in its ninth year. It was conducted between Nov. 21 and Dec. 12 and based on an online survey of 343 b2b marketers. The study found that nearly half (48.4%) will keep their budgets flat this year; 40.8% will increase them; and 10.8% will cut back.
"We are trying to do a lot more with the same amount of money," said Kathy Button Bell, CMO at engineering company Emerson, in echoing the concern of many b2b marketers. "We're trying to keep our media levels similar and add more online, especially video production."
Seeing the first signs of recovery last year after two tough years before that, 51.9% of b2b marketers increased their budgets; 40.8% kept them flat; and 7.3% cut back.
This year, online will see the most significant marketing investment, with 74.0% of marketers increasing their online spending. The survey also found that 41.4% of marketers will raise their event spending this year; 36.5% will increase direct mail; and 20.1% will boost print advertising.
On the down side, 22.4% of marketers plan to slash their print advertising this year; 13.4% will cut back on direct mail; and 12.1% will decrease event marketing spending.
"A few years ago, we pulled back somewhat from print to put more in online," said Tom Haas, CMO at Siemens Corp. "We find that print works really well to drive people to our website, so we will continue to use print." Siemens will run print ads in businessand thought-leadership publications this year, including Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, The New Yorker and Time, Haas said.
The company will also use TV, with three new spots in its ongoing "Siemens Answers" campaign set to break in February, and events, such as its Sustainable Cities tour that shows how Siemens is bringing solutions to cities in energy, healthcare and transportation.
Siemens will also invest significantly in social media this year, with programs using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as mobile marketing.
"This is the first full year  that our website has been mobileenabled and optimized. We feel that everything is really going toward more of a mobile application," Haas said.
According to the "2012 Outlook" survey, the top online spending areas this year will be websites (cited by 67.6% of marketers), email (67.5%), social media (64.3%), search (54.8%), video (50.5%) and webcasts/virtual events (45.6%).
"We're doing a lot more video, and more things are being delivered socially or online," said Emerson's Button Bell. "People want really fast knowledge on stuff, and expertise is more viably offered that way."
Emerson uses its own senior leadership and experts from its different business units to produce videos on such subjects as water and energy.
It's also ramping up its mobile marketing, with apps being developed for the iPad and other mobile devices, Button Bell said.
BtoB's survey found that 24.0% of marketers now use mobile mobile as part of their marketing strategies.
"Around the world, we are seeing more traffic coming in to all of our websites via smartphones, so we're enabling our Web platforms to be mobile-enabled, to allow smartphones to have a richer experience," said Eduardo Conrado, senior VPCMO at Motorola Solutions.
Conrado said Motorola is also using tablet computers and other mobile devices to enable its salespeople to conduct solutions demos with clients and provide richer content in a customer-facing environment.
"We're shifting funds from sponsorships into sales enablement, marketing automation and a vertical-solutions focus," he said, noting that Motorola Solutions' overall marketing budget will be flat this year.
The company will be using a mix of advertising media, including print, online, vertical trade shows, search and social.
"As we look at the different vertical industries we serve, including public safety, fire, retail and manufacturing, we want to make sure we're addressing the specific needs of each segment through telling a solutions story," Conrado said.
According to BtoB's survey, 70.3% of marketers are now using social media as part of their marketing strategy.
The top applications for social media are brand-building (82.6%), lead generation (51.4%), thought leadership (47.4%) and customer feedback (39.5%).
Other marketers said they plan to invest in new technologies to help them manage content and tell stories to customers.
"We'll continue to use a full portfolio of marketing technologies, offline and online," said John Kennedy, VP-corporate marketing at IBM Corp. "But we're going to continue to push very aggressively into emerging digital technologies, particularly technologies that allow us to create new assets that can be shared among our clients as well as among end users and people in the world at large. So it's really building a more assertive strategy in this whole earned and owned media space."
Kennedy said IBM's top marketing priority this year is continuing its "Smarter Planet" platform, now in its fourth year.
"We will use that as a way to help enterprises understand how the power of data and interconnecting systems can help them become more competitive in today's world and economy, and also how those same things can help make the world work better."
For information about obtaining the complete research findings from the “2012 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans” survey go to www.btobonline.com/intelligencecenter.