A marketer needs to keep their finger on the pulse.  On the pulse of their customers, on the pulse of their industry and on the pulse of their profession.  Without doing so they risk becoming stagnant or, worse still, irrelevant.  They miss opportunities, insights and ideas.In conjunction with the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) and the Association of B2B Agencies (ABBA), Circle Research has developed a regular survey to take the pulse of the B2B marketing profession.  This definitive study canvassed the opinion of more than 100 client side B2B marketing professionals who represent some of the UK’s largest industrial organisations.  Between them they control B2B marketing budgets in excess of £35 million.

Here’s a few interesting observations.

First, the economic climate.  Unsurprisingly the numbers make depressing reading.  Two thirds expect the economic downturn to last for at least a further 12 months.  Almost all organisations have frozen or cut their budgets in response to the recession and further reductions have not been ruled out.  But when we look a bit deeper there’s hope on the horizon.  Although the majority feel the recession is likely to be prolonged, almost one half also expect their own organisation to buck the trend and grow over the coming 12 months.  It seems that there is collective pessimism, but private optimism.  Perhaps the idea of green shoots emerging is not so far fetched after all.

It also appears that reports of ‘traditional’ media’s death may have been exaggerated…but it’s still on the critical list.  Spend on print advertising is expected to decline significantly over the coming 12 months with two fifths planning cuts.  The same holds true for other traditional channels such as trade events and direct mail.  The rising star of course is new media.  Despite budgets being cut overall, spend on social media, email campaigns and online advertising is expected to rise significantly.  However, we must be careful not to call time on traditional channels just yet.  New media still accounts for only 39% of total marketing budgets and the vast majority disagree that print advertising will become obsolete.  Rather, budgets will continue to erode before bottoming out as print moves from centre stage to a supporting role.

So it seems that change is on the agenda.  Some early signs of economic optimism are emerging and new media channels continue their ascendance.  But let me leave you with one feature of the B2B environment that seems stubbornly persistent.  Two thirds believe that marketing still plays second fiddle to sales.

Read the B2B Barometer in full.

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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