I know I'm wasting half of my B2B marketing budget...but not which 1/2

Ed Marsh | Nov 6, 2014

Mischaracterization of reluctance

There's a common misconception about B2B business executives.  Marketers often claim that business owners just don't understand that they need to invest in marketing to grow.

That's incorrect.  Business people understand and accept the premise of B2B marketing investment.  But for so long they've been told to simply spend and trust that it's working, knowing full well that much of it doesn't work and not even knowing for sure what portion is effective, that they are understandably skeptical.

It's such a common situation that many actually joke that they know they're wasting half of their marketing spend....they only wish they know which half.

So not only are the marketers' claims incorrect, they're unfair.  In fact the frustration marketers express with execs may be psychological projection of their own frustration at their inability to correlate business impact with marketing spend.

Fix the problem and the attitude will change

The solution isn't to complain or mock the company that hesitates to invest in B2B marketing.  The response should be two fold.

First, provide current research around buyer behaviors and marketing impact.  The nature and role of marketing used to be dramatically different and decision makers may be measuring their investment based on inadequate information. (e.g. overlooking today's role of marketing as a virtual sales rep for 70% of the buying process.)

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Second, shatter the myth that marketing investment can't be correlated directly to resulting revenue.  It can be, and it should be.  This requires a couple tools and a bit of an engineering or analytical mindset.  Most importantly, though, it requires a marketing methodology which is built to support that sort of tracking.

Of course executives have been sold such a bill of goods for so long, they'll be skeptical.  That's OK.  try empathy.  Once they see how it's done they'll be sold.  It's really impossible to resist.  But as excited as CEOs will be, their traditional marketers will be every bit as distressed.  The artist will be strenuously resist being held accountable to revenue results, and at the hint of such will be tossing around lots of naive warnings and admonitions.  It's threatening to their livelihood and often well outside their wheelhouse.

But business owners are pragmatic about their investments.  When it made sense to invest in LEAN, they did.  And this is an analogous initiative for marketing.


Not everything will work - but you'll know what doesn't

This doesn't mean that every marketing action will create revenue, or even that every one will work acceptably.  That's unrealistic.  Inexorable change in markets and buyer behaviors mean that B2B marketing must evolve as well through iterations of sampling and adjustment.

What is realistic is that every action and investment can be measured.  That means that those that aren't working can be adjusted/tested and either quickly improved or abandoned.  Savvy marketers have the ability to eliminate spending that doesn't work - and free up resources for commitment deliberately and consciously to efforts that do.

And it's amazing how eager business execs become to spend more on marketing when they know that their investment is no longer wasted, and particularly when they learn they can manage their B2B marketing & sales as proactively and analytically as they do their operations.

Treat your B2B marketing like your manufacturing

If you had a 50% scrap rate in your manufacturing you wouldn't be chuckling, and you wouldn't dismissively say "I wish I knew which half was defective!"

So stop tolerating it in your marketing!

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