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Featured in Forbes: B2B Marketing tips for tough times

“Firms which cut costs faster and deeper in tough times than rivals don’t flourish and have the lowest probability at 21% of pulling ahead of the competition when times get better.” - Harvard Business Review.

Marketing is integral to the survival of any business in a digital economy. Unfortunately, many organisations still perceive the marketing function as a cost centre, and when times are tough either slash the budget or shut it down altogether.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why marketing needs to be valued even in a recession, so that you can rise through the storm better and more resilient than ever before.

Keeping the marketing engine 'well oiled' in a recession

The marketing engine fuels the energy running through customer loyalty, experience and communication, and importantly, it fills the sales funnel. Without it, any business will struggle to achieve a competitive advantage.

From our experience at AZK Media working with large global technology vendors, a critical mistake we’ve seen is that the CFO or CRO doesn’t really understand or value where marketing fits within the organisation, and its function ends up being shuffled around, given to different people to manage, and when it doesn’t work “instantly,” it’s given to someone else again to “fix.” The effect is long-term and sometimes irreparable damage to the business’s revenue engine.

The fact is, marketing is vital, but it is also a slow burn and requires investment to see results. And these results can take up to 18 months if you are starting marketing from scratch. Changing the business structure or putting a novice in charge of marketing will only see your result being pushed even further behind.

Marketing is vital in a digital economy

Consumer behaviour has changed, and their buying journey has changed along with the rapidly growing digital engagement channels. There are multiple touch points on the buyer’s journey now, and this is absolutely relevant to B2B as well as B2C entities.

A study from Marketo found that businesses that nurture leads enjoy 50% more sales, and those sales cost an average of 33% less than non-nurtured prospects. Annuitas found that nurtured prospects make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured prospects. The lesson? Nurturing your leads is absolutely vital, and this is marketing’s purview.

Good marketers know the decision-making process is done before a sales team even contacts a prospect, and good marketing to nurture and educate those leads will be far more effective in the long run. The question, however, is: Do the CFO and CRO know this?

Slashing marketing? Say goodbye to your sales team

Sales and marketing are a symbiotic relationship—neither can exist alone. Sales input, feedback, outbound lead gen and sales-focused activities remain critical, but they cannot inform the entire journey—and they never will.

Getting rid of marketing or putting someone in charge who doesn’t understand it will end up drying up the funnel, resulting in sales having no leads to follow up. And without marketing, sales lead time could lengthen drastically, leading to burnout and churn of your sales staff.

Put a marketer in charge of your marketing

If you want business success, marketing is a key aspect of this, and it must be run by someone who understands it, values it, and can bring the right people, specialists and agencies on board to rev up the demand generation engine.

The true long-term value of marketing is building brand equity and an authentic emotional connection with customers and prospects, and this takes time. It won’t happen overnight, so putting someone else in charge of it after only a few months is a knee-jerk reaction that will put the business even further behind.

B2B organisations that invest in their brand always remain competitive, no matter what the market is doing. Businesses that thrive beyond tough times are the ones that care about customers and prospects and put them front and centre of everything they do.

This article was originally published on Forbes here.

This article was also published on Little Black Book here.


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