On the eve of the Q3 IPA Bellwether Report, the majority (76%) of B2B marketing directors globally are optimistic about their strategy over the next six months, despite around half saying their budgets have been impacted in some way by the current economic conditions.
According to LinkedIn’s global B2B Marketer Sentiment study, which surveyed more than 1,700-plus marketing leaders from across the world, the picture of optimism is uneven, with B2B marketers in India feeling the most optimistic about their strategies (94%), followed by Saudi Arabia (92%) and the US (91%).
Closer to home things are not quite as robust, with only 56% of marketers in the UK and 50% of marketers in Germany feeling positive about their plans.
Within this challenging environment, B2B marketers are keen to focus on brand building, with more than two-thirds (67%) saying they will maintain, or increase spend in this area in the next six months.
The most commonly cited reasons are because B2B marketers believe a strong brand supports long-term sales (52%), and because it helps brands stay top of mind for buyers (42%). Over a third (38%) say that it helps them to attract talent.
The research finds that as B2B marketers look to do more with less, proving marketing effectiveness to influential stakeholders in the organisation is critical. Of the companies that have seen budgets impacted, three in ten (30%) say the business does not understand B2B marketing ROI.
Globally, marketers say measuring campaign effectiveness and proving ROI of marketing investments (21%) is their biggest challenge right now. Higher than the global average, 27% of B2B marketers in the US and 25% of B2B marketers in Latin America feel this is one of their biggest challenges.
B2B marketers see this time as an opportunity to invest in building relationships and trust with customers (28%), and a chance to stay relevant and rethink their brand story (22%). Marketing leaders say creativity tops the list of skills needed for marketers to navigate uncertainty (56%).
Over the next six months, B2B marketing campaign objectives will focus on how companies are helping their customers (40%), demonstrate that they are a purpose-driven brand (37%), and show that they are serious about sustainability (38%).
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions senior director of EMEA and LATAM Tom Pepper said: “Despite economic headwinds, it’s positive to see B2B marketers remain optimistic about their strategies as they navigate through uncertainty. Pausing adspend can seem like a cost-saving measure, but savvy marketers know that recovering from a drop in memorability and recall can be far more costly in the long-term. Focusing efforts on brand building can be fruitful, especially as competitors pull back.
“It is clear that the biggest challenge facing marketers right now is proving marketing ROI to the business, which is crucial to strengthening future budgets. There is a strong need for more education around marketing effectiveness so the true value that B2B marketers deliver is clearly understood.”
IPA director of marketing strategy Janet Hull added: “As evidence from our comprehensive IPA Effectiveness Databank attests, investing in longer-term, brand-building, creative and emotionally-led communications activity builds memory structures which in turn drives brand recognition, engagement and overall marketing effectiveness.
“We therefore welcome these optimistic findings that the majority of B2B marketers will continue to invest in their brand in times of uncertainty. Equally, we know from our evidence of previous economic downturns that maintaining such activity created a competitive advantage for brands that helped them report higher average profit and better market share growth when the economy recovered.”
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