After two years of cutting their marketing budgets due to the recession, marketers are once again loosening their purse strings.
This year, 51.9% of b2b marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets, according to BtoB's “2011 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans” survey.
The annual survey, conducted online in November and December, attracted responses from 426 b2b marketers. The top marketing goal cited by respondents for this year is customer acquisition (69.1%), followed by brand awareness (18.4%) and customer retention (12.5%).
Only 7.3% of marketers said they will decrease budgets this year, while 40.8% said budgets will remain flat. In contrast, 13.3% of b2b marketers cut their budgets last year, and 57.7% slashed them in 2009 in response to the economic slump.
Some marketers are making dramatic increases. DuPont will increase its marketing budget by 50% this year as it introduces a new positioning platform and integrated marketing campaign, CMO Cynthia Green said at the BtoB's Best awards luncheon in New York in November.
Of those marketers boosting their budgets this year, the majority are planning double-digit increases; one-quarter will increase them by more than 20%.
The survey found 78.5% of marketers plan to increase their online budgets this year. Many will also raise spending on events (44.3%), direct mail (36.6%), telemarketing (24.8%) and print (19.2%).
“More and more we are going interactive; but for our integrated campaign, kicking off a new company, we are definitely going to use print,” said Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-CMO of Motorola Solutions, which split off from Motorola Inc. on Jan. 4 and serves enterprise and government markets.
Motorola Solutions is making heavy use of vertical trade magazines to introduce itself, with ads in Chain Store Age, InformationWeek, IndustryWeek, Logistics Management and Mobile Enterprise. It is also using online ads, an online branding video and a new website to promote the brand.
Paul Dunay, global director of services and social media at Avaya Inc., said that while his company is investing heavily in interactive, it will continue to use print and other traditional media to reach business customers. “I thought we overrotated last year toward digital, so this year we rotated back toward more print,” he said.
Avaya's marketing budget will be up about 15% this year over last, Dunay said. Approximately 40% of its budget will be spent online, in social media, webinars and virtual events, he said. It will also use TV, print and events.
Other marketers said they are using a mix of online and off, with online playing an ever more important role.
“We have increasingly shifted annually our work to reflect the way markets are consuming information, which is through online. It allows us to be much more targeted,” said John Kennedy, VP-corporate marketing at IBM Corp. He said IBM will double or triple the number of virtual events it conducts this year, up from the 80 it produced last year.
Kennedy said IBM will also increase its use of social media and continue to use TV, print and in-person events to build its brand. “We don't believe virtual events will substitute for what we have with physical events. We are using them to augment our physical events,” he said.
Marketers said they will increase spending this year on websites (cited by 70.7% of survey respondents), email (68.0%), social media (62.6%), search (56.8%), online video (50.9%), webcasts (40.8%) and banner ads (34.8%).
“We are rebuilding from the ground up our entire digital infra-structure,” said Mike Kullman, director of corporate marketing services at DuPont. “Going forward, a lot of our investment will go toward digital, whether that is social media or building out digital communities.”
Kullman said it was still too early to talk about the details of DuPont's planned branding campaign. “A lot of our effort this year will be in positioning DuPont around the ideas of addressing some of the big problems facing the world, including feeding the world, alternative energy, and safety and protection.”
B2b companies are increasing their use of social media this year, with 68.6% now using it for marketing. That is up from 53.5% that used social media for marketing last year and 45.0% two years ago.
The top uses for social media in marketing include brand building (79.6%), thought leadership (53.6%), lead generation (46.8%), customer feedback (40.6%) and advertising (37.6%).
Dunay said 15% of Avaya's online budget this year will go toward social media, including monitoring tools.
BtoB's survey found that new-campaign activity will be up this year, with 65.7% of marketers planning new ad campaigns, an increase of 60.0% over last year.
Hiring will also be up, with 35.5% of respondents planning to add marketing staff this year, up from 25.7% last year. Only 3.3% plan to cut staff.