More seasoned marketers over the years told me how much they pined for the big budgets they used to have.
Since I never had to deal with the largesse they lamented as vanished, planning meant making trade offs. Fewer choices meant much of the effort ended up being focused on acquiring new customers.
Finding, qualifying, and nurturing leads
This is the bread and butter of direct marketing and lead generation activities. Today, there are tools that make it easier to run email and content-based campaigns and build that pipeline of prospects. Because much of these activities have been documented and benchmarked, they were and are funded.
In my recent experience, as I'm sure in that of many marketers, anything that could not be measured of benchmarked against competitive spending and direct outcomes was cut right out.
Was it the right approach? In some cases it wasn't, we ended up robbing our programs from full integration and compounded results.
Customers come first
A feather in my cap was keeping the monthly customer newsletter. I edited most of the main articles myself, taking into account conversations I'd had with customers and tailoring the content to the kinds of questions and issues they brought up on the phone, or in person, when attending our events.
Especially in a complex business with a long sales cycle, customer retention and cross-sell are a business' best ally.
Searching for meaning
And of course, a very large component of our activities went to attracting searches for the key terms people used to look for the kinds of services and products we provided. If you have a really good demand generation group, you should expect to spend less or at least balance SEM with SEO — paid vs. organic search.
This is not unique of B2Bs, of course. Many organizations that sell through a distribution model also go direct. In fact, the direct business is usually where there is growth opportunity. Which means balancing the needs to support channel marketing with the dollars allocated to direct.
Digital can help with both
In different ways, that is. Because so much of what happens online can be tracked and measured against goals, the trend has been favoring digital buys. For a while, a percentage of marketing dollars still went to building awareness and creating demand in different media.
Then bigger budget allocations were made to online campaigns, until there was barely anything other than digital in the plans. Which may work for B2Bs that engage customers and prospects directly and consistently.
Those are the organizations that have a tight process around capturing lead data, nurturing relationships for a future purchase, etc.
Setting up listening posts with good content and an interactive personality complements paid media even in social, where the opportunity is much greater and we're barely scratching the surface.
Million dollar question
And here's the million dollar question, the decision that many marketers need to make in their budget planning cycle. Should you shift all your spending online? Why/why not?