Laura Ramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

While I was hanging out at the Forrester Marketing Forum last week, I missed a milestone. The report I mentioned in my blog about the impact the economy is having on B2B budgets popped out of the editing queue and made it onto the Web site.

Maybe not so surprising to many of you – but reassuring perhaps? –
is the finding that digital marketing tactics are gaining B2B marketing
budget share because of the rocky economy. Over 40% of the 317
marketers surveyed said they would allot more marketing dollars to
online channels like the corporate Web site, search marketing, video,
Webinars, and email.

B2B Marketers Turn To Digital Tactics In 2009
B2B Marketers Turn To Digital Tactics In 2009

here’s the thing.  B2B marketers have said this for the past three
years. Since August 2006, when I published my first report on the state
of B2B marketing called “B2B Marketing Needs A Makeover – Now,”
marketers say they plan to funnel budget dollars online and away from
traditional broadcast channels. But the evidence shows they continue to
spend the lion’s share on trade shows and direct mail.

Most B2B marketers cling to traditional channels because 1)
executives like them, 2) sales complain if marketing tries to stop
using them, and 3) measuring the impact of various marketing tactics –
over long B2B selling cycles – is difficult. The lesson here? Tuning
the marketing mix is an ongoing challenge. Everyone struggles with it,
so get more systematic about how you measure marketing mix results.
Making those precious budget dollars pay off requires focusing on
programs, not campaigns.

Conventional Tactics Get The Lion's Share of Budgets
Conventional Tactics Get The Lion’s Share of Budgets

To make an integrated, programmatic approach to marketing work, you should:

1) Lay a solid foundation online. Your Web site, email, and
search marketing provide the base to build digital marketing programs
on. Use personas and scenarios to help buyers achieve goals online. 
Use email to continue conversations, not start them. And profile
buyers’ information-seeking behavior and motivations to master keyword
advertising and organic rankings.  Only when search, email, and Web
marketing churn out qualified and more measurable leads do you get to
experiment with other, emerging media.

2) Peel of a little of that field marketing spending
Cutting out a trade show or two can counter steep budget cuts. But
don’t make these decisions without involving field marketing and sales.
Use a financial model – not conjecture — to decide what gets the ax. 
Show field and sales skeptics how blending in digital tactics can drive
interest and excitement for little additional spend. This also helps
them get behind the cuts if they think they are getting better in

3) Structure budgets to drive community interaction and returns.
Instead of building budgets around campaigns and launches, focus on
business outcomes like “build thought leadership with IT managers
virtualizing the data center” to align digital and conventional
spending programs. Showing that marketing spend shortens sales cycles,
produces better qualified leads, and reduces costs will help you
preserve marketing budgets.

Want to know more?  Join me Monday, May 18, 2009, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Eastern time (16:00-17:00 UK time) for my Forrester Teleconference where I will talk about this research in some more detail.

[Cross-posted from B2B Marketing POSTs by Laura Ramos.]