Ireland’s B2B marketing sector has benefited positively from the pandemic overall according to a new report, published by Squaredot, the B2B marketing agency in association with the Marketing Institute of Ireland (MII).
The annual survey of B2B marketing, a sector which is estimated to be worth in excess of €100m a year, shows that there was an increased reliance on marketing services as a result of the need for companies to be digitally-led since last March.
According to the report, COVID-19 increased the reliance on B2B marketing departments for more than half of respondents (52%). Primarily, this was because the traditional channels for making connections such meetings and events were all off-limits. Many had to get up to speed quickly with a digital-only strategy and have been under pressure to get the transformation right as it became increasingly important not only for sales but employer branding too.
The survey also found that Irish B2B marketers are being asked to do more with less – less resources and less budget as the ‘buyer journey’ is even more online now than pre-covid while sales teams are putting pressure on the marketing function to create content that helps with the sales process.
During the pandemic, 41% of all respondents said marketing budgets reduced while a further 47% stayed the same. That leaves just 12% who have increased their budget to capitalise on any opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.
The survey also revealed that 22% are seeking C-suite buy-in and feel the need to prove ROI and the pressure to perform with just over a third (37%) claiming to have sufficient internal resources. Only 46% expected to see budgets increase for 2021.
According to respondents, the top three challenges for the sector overall are delivering leads, building brand awareness and proving return on investment.
It also found that referrals still provide B2B companies with both the largest number and highest quality of leads at 20% and 25% respectively.
However Ian Blake, CEO of Squaredot warns this approach is a powerful tool but it is a limited one. “With referrals, early growth looks promising but in the end, the line of existing customers and friends to lean on peters out. It’s marketing and brand building that will make the difference in terms of sustainable growth.”
The survey also shows that B2B marketers understand the role of brand and positioning, but only 44% think they are ‘somewhat’ different from their competition.
Blake says this is a “massive opportunity” for B2B businesses that invest in brand building. The report findings show that B2B marketers are in a constant state of generating short term leads to feed sales. “If they took the time and some budget to build their brand, the leads would be much easier to generate,” Blake says.
To download a full copy of The Irish B2B Marketing Survey click HERE