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B2B Marketers Focused on Long Term Tend to Outperform the Competition

B2B marketers that outperform peers are more likely to devote 40% or more of their marketing budget to long-term goals

Good things really do come to those who wait.

A survey of 450 marketers found “leaders” – those who say they have “outperformed their competition in the last two years” – generally devote more of their marketing budget to long-term goals. These marketing “leaders” are more likely to devote 40% or more of their marketing budget to long-term goals, compared to 25% of the rest of marketing.

All said, the number of those committed to long-term thinking in marketing has dwindled. The survey found, that overall, the share of B2B marketers allocating 40% or more of the budget to long term goals “decreased from more than a half (53%) to just under a third (32%)” when compared to the same survey last year.

The study calls this sudden shift “a lurch” and attributes it to the Coronavirus pandemic.

There were other questions that also showed a focus on near-term results. For example, most marketers said they actively run campaigns and measure results for just a couple of months. Only about one in five marketers (18%) runs campaigns for more than six months and 20% report on results beyond six months.

That’s always the case in B2B marketing, no? As soon as you’re done with that white paper or webinar – boom – you’re onto the next thing.

There’s a lot of downsides to this too. First, it places a lot of systemic stress on a marketing organization. Second, the business probably isn’t be realizing the full value of the investment that went into those campaigns. Finally, there’s a good chance the analytics are not being examined thoroughly and so insights go unnoticed.

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B2B marketing effectiveness

The survey asked B2B marketing “leaders” what characteristics they thought contributed to their overall effectiveness. The two top answers were “audience targeting” and “value proposition.” It’s fitting because that’s the essence of marketing – bringing a solution to a problem to the attention of a well-defined audience.

Here’s how the top seven factors in marketing effectiveness tallied up:

  • 68% said audience targeting was the top factor in marketing success
  • 61% said value proposition
  • 40% said brand consistency over time
  • 36% said campaign tracking
  • 23% said creative
  • 23% said the marketing mix; and
  • 11% said maximizing reach

“We were surprised to see a decline in creative as a key driver of effectiveness with nearly 40% choosing it in their top three in 2019, compared to only 23% in 2020.”

Indeed, every business has access to similar tools and data. Marketers across B2B tech all use a similar language. The only thing left to help a brand stand out as different is often creative – but we don’t have time for it when we’re rushing from one campaign to the next.

B2B marketing failure

In contrast to effectiveness, the survey also asked about failure. In other words, when a campaign fails, what is the cause?

Here again, the top two answers stood above the rest: “lack of buy-in from the rest of the business” and “insufficient resources.”

Here’s how the top seven factors in marketing failure tallied up:

  • 40% said a lack of buy-in from the business was the biggest factor in a marketing failure
  • 39% said insufficient resources
  • 30% said flaws in the positioning or targeting
  • 29% said unrealistic goals
  • 25% said insufficient research
  • 21% said unforeseen market changes; and
  • 20% said poorly defined [creative] briefs.

It seems to me “not enough time” would be an interesting answer given the context of the survey – as is the possibility that some marketing campaigns are just lousy ideas.

Good marketing takes time in B2B

Many of the key factors in marketing require time to unfold. Sure, you can trick someone into filling out a form for gated content, but there aren’t any real shortcuts.

PR takes time. SEO takes time. Building an email list takes time. Earning trust takes time. Relationships take time. Strategy takes time. Success in anything, generally, takes time.

The survey was conducted The Marketing Practice, a UK-based agency with an office in the U.S., and Marketing Week, a UK-based trade publication. I first noticed the study in a post on MarketingProfs. The full report is available for download here: B2B Effectiveness Barometer 2020.

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Image credits: Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash and respective study

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