BMA-NY: Marketers see budgets rise and lead-gen paramount

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New York—B-to-b marketers are moderately bullish with their spending plans for this year, with very few budgetary cuts scheduled and the focus firmly on customer acquisition and online media. “It's a relatively positive outlook for 2012,” said Bob Felsenthal, publisher of BtoB, while presenting the publication's “2012 Outlook: Marketing Priorities & Plans” survey results at a meeting of the Business Marketing Association New York City chapter here today. “Only 7% of marketers expect their budgets to be cut this year, but their media spending plans have changed significantly: 74% anticipate spending increases in online media.” Other significant budget increases anticipated this year are in events, to grow by 41%, direct mail (36%) and telemarketing (18%), according to the report. Modest cuts are anticipated in print advertising. BtoB's study is based on a January online survey of 343 b-to-b marketers. Nicola Morris, VP-marketing and strategy at Verizon Business, said the changes in media allocations are due to a new customercentric marketplace. “The challenges we have in the b-to-b space reflect the macro trends that impact ourselves and our customers,” Morris said. “We now have borderless interactions and transactions, and are collaborating on devices that are intuitive and always ready. Businesses have to differentiate themselves against a backdrop that's fundamentally different than ever before.” Julie Fajgenbaum, VP-brand and marketing at American Express OPEN, wasn't surprised with the survey finding that 75% of marketers will focus primarily on customer acquisition this year. “That's also what we're seeing in the small-business space,” Fajgenbaum said. AmEx itself is focused on acquiring more customers, she said, with a new emphasis on “warming” leads. “The first thing is to warm our current leads through social communities so that later we'll try to sell them the AmEx Gold Card when they're more receptive to a sales pitch,” she said. “A second effort we'll make this year is to figure out how to warm up the hundreds of thousands of entirely cold leads we have.” Fajgenbaum said AmEx hopes to accomplish this with an emphasis on earned and owned media on social sites rather than paid media.
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