For our annual B2B Effectiveness Barometer research we spoke to over 800 B2B marketers globally. What they told us offers some good advice as we head into a bumpy 2023.
I have outlined some of the key findings below, but you can also download the full report here.
The anatomy of a B2B leader
In the Barometer research, we separate out ‘Leaders’ from ‘The rest’, so we can understand more about what’s really working.
Leaders are those who say they have outperformed their competition in the last two years. There are limitations to this approach of self-identification. But leaders are also twice as likely to grow by more than 10% a year, so we can infer they are doing something right. And their responses reflect the wider body of evidence on marketing effectiveness, adding further weight to the results.
Those results say to marketers: stick to your guns. What worked once still works. So, when we look at what sets the leaders apart from the rest, it is no surprise to find:
- Leaders are 3x more likely to say their brand is highly distinctive;
- And they are nearly 10x more likely to say their brand is highly differentiated
(The two Ds of marketing proudly strutting their stuff.)
The scale of integration also sets leaders apart:
- Leaders are 3x as likely to say their brand and demand efforts are well connected;
- And 2x as likely to say their marketing teams are well integrated
And, if we look closely, we catch the glinting jewel that is a great buyer experience: Leaders are twice as likely to say their buyer journey is tightly integrated, but only 19% of respondents believe their buyer journey hits that mark.
But what about the ‘r word’?
There is no consensus that we will technically have a recession in 2023 – except for the UK, limping as it is, having shot itself repeatedly in the foot. But everywhere we face low growth and the accompanying hard questions about what and how to spend.
Naturally, we asked our B2B marketers how they we’re facing this challenge and the response was hearteningly bullish. When asked what they’re doing in response to economic uncertainty, our respondents’ top three answers were:
- Investing more in customer growth
- Putting more budget towards brand building
- Increasing budgets because now is a good time to win market share
Bravura stuff. But evidence-based – if you can invest, now is a good time for marketers.
What’s coming next? Who knows!
Leaders are twice as likely to have a structured approach to testing and learning than the rest.
This feels significant given one thing marketers do agree on is that the outlook remains uncertain. Recent history has taught us to expect the unexpected. Confidence is tempered with caution because we don’t really know how things will play out.
That’s the vibe for a lot of marketing leaders now; the emphasis is on emergent strategy.
Which makes sense for a complex system like the B2B buyers’ journey. The way to deal with complexity and uncertainty is with a mindset of experimentation. To continually evolve the strategy through test & learn.
It’s heartening, then, to see more marketers are encouraged to take risks and experiment to improve results. 77% agreed with this statement this year, compared to a little over 50% in the 2020 survey.
Blending these two concepts, the tenets of classical marketing (distinctiveness, differentiation, STP) and a modern growth mindset that embraces experimentation, feels the right combo as we head into the perma-turbulence.
Download your copy of the full report here.