Marketing budgets trend upward

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About 40% of companies raised marketing budgets 3% to 11% this year, while only 13% reduced their marketing budgets, according to a survey of 280 senior marketing executives that was released last month. Unica Corp., a developer of enterprise marketing management software, commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct the "Marketing Challenges 2004" survey.

Among the b-to-b marketing executives queried in the survey, 35% said their companies increased marketing spending in 2004, while 20% said their companies decreased their marketing budgets.

Overall, the survey showed a mild optimism among marketing executives, with nearly 69% saying their fellow employees understood that marketing was "strategic."

However, survey respondents also said they faced numerous challenges, chief among them measuring marketing effectiveness, which was cited by 55% of respondents. Rounding out the top three challenges were improving image/brand awareness (45%) and coordinating and integrating marketing programs (38%).

"About 63% [of marketing executives] said their companies didn’t consider marketing measurable," said Carol Meyers, VP-marketing at Unica.

Most measurable media

Perhaps that’s why three of the top four marketing channels in terms of importance, according to the survey, are among the most measurable. Topping the list is direct mail, which is probably the most measurable offline form of marketing. Second is print advertising, which is notoriously difficult to measure. But both the third and fourth choices in the rankings are highly measurable: Web advertising/Web sites and e-mail marketing.

The survey found that marketers plan to increase spending with an eye toward measurable marketing efforts. About 43% of respondents said they would increase spending on the Internet, making that the most common channel for budgetary jumps. Next was direct marketing spending, which 40% of respondents said they would increase this year. Rounding out the top three was print ad spending, which 30% of respondents said they would boost this year.

At the same time, print ad spending also topped the survey as the channel that the most marketers would reduce. About 16% of respondents said they planned to cut print ad spending this year. About 14% said they would reduce direct mail, and 12% said they would trim event budgets.

About 45% of respondents said their primary objective was to support the sales organization. About 28% said their top objective was to drive direct sales, and 22% said it was to build brand awareness.

The survey found companies faced different challenges depending on their size. Those with less than $1 billion in revenue cited as their top three challenges measuring ROI, building brand awareness and coordinating marketing programs across various channels. For those with
$1 billion or more in revenue, "drive customer centricity throughout the organization" held the middle spot.

Many respondents said they planned to address marketing deficiencies by implementing software or technology.

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