BtoB

Trends reflect cautious optimism, budget priorities

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The current issue of BtoB confirms what’s in every marketer’s gut: Business prospects for 2003 seem somewhat better than they were in 2002. But this optimism is tinged with extreme caution, so the intense focus on the financial performance of marketing investments will carry forward into the new year.

Quantifying these impressions is the BtoB/Patrick Marketing Group survey, which drew responses from 400 marketers across a variety of industries (See story, Page 1). The survey found "generating leads" was the "area of greatest importance within marketing."

Similarly, the survey confirmed that direct marketing—more quantifiable and more closely linked to lead-generation—was increasing its share of the marketing budget at the expense of broad-based branding activities such as TV advertising, which saw the largest decline. Fully 60% of the survey respondents said they were increasing their spending on direct marketing. Nearly as large a number forecast an increasing percentage of their budgets will go to Internet efforts, including e-mail marketing.

Closely matching the empirical findings of our survey is Kate Maddox’s wide-ranging trend story (Page 1), which outlines the top 10 trends in marketing for 2003, based on interviews with marketers, agencies and analysts.

In the story, Eric Meerschaert, managing director of Charter Consulting, notes that in many companies the sales group measures the number of deals closed, regardless of cost of acquisition, and the marketing group measures the number of eyeballs on messages. That structure, he said, needs to be replaced with one set of objectives, embraced and tracked by both sales and marketing.

Meanwhile, b-to-b marketers face a slew of tactical challenges, starting with legislative, regulatory and technological changes related to an enormously important direct marketing technique, e-mail. Carol Krol’s story in the NetMarketing section (Page 16) notes that aside from the threat of regulatory and legal blocks to commercial e-mail, a variety of software-based filtering tools may prevent the delivery of even legitimate, opt-in messages.

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E-mail marketing has always been an important coverage area for BtoB. But because the topic has become so important and complex, we’ve decided to do more. BtoB this month will launch a new weekly e-mail newsletter, "BtoB’s E-Mail Marketer Insight," devoted exclusively to the topic. The newsletter will deliver advice, best-practice case stories and samples of new campaigns. Watch your in-box in the coming weeks for more on "E-Mail Marketer."

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