To say it’s been an eventful few years economically is an understatement.  First we had the credit crunch and a deep recession.  Now deficit reduction measures are biting and bond markets shaking.

These turbulent times make the latest instalment of the bi-annual B2B Barometer interesting reading.  The survey – conducted in August 2011 and based on the opinions of 137 B2B agencies and marketers in the UK – shows that despite strong headwinds, the last 12 months have been rather rosy for most.

The full report is now available to download – B2B Barometer report Q3 2011 – but here are some highlights to whet your appetite.

The majority of client side marketers have seen depressed budgets return with three fifths (57%) reporting increased spend.  This is the most pronounced rise in budgets since the B2B Barometer’s inception in 2009.

A key beneficiary of this spend, agencies, have also experienced a fillip.  One quarter (26%) report increased billings and a further third (33%) have seen significant increases.  Again, this is in stark contrast to the B2B Barometer’s first reading two years ago when the majority (45%) were seeing revenues tumble.

This strong bounce back is further supported by the findings of B2B Marketing Magazine’s latest B2B marcomms agency league table (conducted in partnership with us here at Circle Research).  Gross income reported by the top 40 agencies in 2010 is, on average, up by 18%.

So, a good year for most and many expect it to continue.  The B2B Barometer finds that two thirds (69%) of agencies and client side marketers are confident in their organisation’s outlook for the next 12 months.

However, whilst few fear for their corporate future, there are signs that growth will be much more muted.  When asked about the number of enquiries received in the last six months, although most agencies (55%) report an increase, the level of growth has dropped markedly from January 2011’s B2B Barometer when two thirds (67%) had seen a rise. Again, the agency league table paints a similar picture.  Just over one half (55%) of agencies describe the current state of the market as either ‘good’ or ‘strong’.  However, the other half describes conditions as ‘static’ (21%) or ‘challenging (23%).

The external economic environment is of course critical to the health of our sector.  However, the B2B Barometer also reminds us that headwinds can just as equally be created internally.

Four out of every five client side marketers (79%) believes that their activities need to be better aligned with those of sales.  Furthermore, 59% see alignment of the two functions as a very important goal.  And with good reason.  Failure to do so is wasting leads (60% report as consequence of mis-alignment), time (53%) and budgets (41%).

Download the full report here:  B2B Barometer report Q3 2011
Past editions of the B2B Barometer can be found here:  B2B Barometer reports

Find out more about Circle Research’s B2B research services here.

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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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