B2B Marketing Leaders Round Table: Has your marketing budget suffered a blow?

Last week, I was delighted to be invited to join B2B Marketing’s Leaders Roundtable event as a guest speaker. The topic of conversation was undeniably a hugely relevant one – protection strategies for marketing budgets. And it was such a useful discussion, I thought it worth passing on some of the key insights… It’s given me lots of food for thought!

A mixed budgetary bag

Some marketing leaders have seen straight cuts of up to 50%, almost halting the majority of their half-two spend. Others have seen more modest reductions of around 10%, but have struggled to execute their plans with some, or all, of their staff being furloughed. And then there are others for whom the situation has been entirely different. They have found themselves offered more budget because their business has seen an increase in demand during lockdown. And the problem they have faced has been how to increase output when they have no additional people on the ground to do the work. It’s been quite a heady mix.

However, despite all this disparity, one particular theme has come to the fore very strongly for all. The challenge of managing stakeholders during these tumultuous times is now stretching time management to its limit.

The ante has been upped on managing stakeholders

Now, with sharpened focus on cash flow, the role of the CFO has strengthened and it has become more important than ever for marketing leaders to build a sustainable and consistent relationship with them.

Plus, with FY21 planning looming on the horizon, stretched manpower and increased pressure to perform is turning stakeholder agreement to a marketing plan into a finely tuned balancing act. Will focusing time and effort on some stakeholders mean your “equity” decreases with those you don’t? It’s a tough call, because time has to be carved out to properly identify who has the power and influence, and then those relationships need to be fostered and maintained.

Increased scrutiny on ROI.

But that’s not the only challenge. Inevitably, with the tightening of belts has come deeper scrutiny on how the marketing budget is being spent; and with that has come an ever sharpening focus on ROI. Individual POs are being reviewed at the highest level, and evidence of results have become a priority. This is far from ideal, of course, but it is at least forcing marketers to assess whether they have the right measurement systems in place to reflect their contribution… and many are doing exactly that.

But it’s certainly not all doom and gloom

There is a silver lining, however. All this forced change has meant an appetite to drive a much deeper collaboration and alignment through the planning process. Streamlined campaigns and activity have created better cut-through. And marketing agencies have come to the table in support to plug the gaps.

In short, there has been a significant shift from thinking about how to keep costs under control… to how to invest for the future. As one marketing leader put it, “We’ve paused, we’ve reflected, and now we are reimagining the business, whilst keeping a focus on our North Star.”

Whilst the way ahead into half-two is not without its challenges, therefore, it does seem that many are now switching gear to be able to power-out of the remaining few months. Let’s hope the investment in marketing flows with it.

Join the next Stakeholder Engagement for Marketers course.

Want to dial-up your stakeholder engagement approach? The next B2B Marketing Stakeholder Engagement for Marketers course with Maria is running on October 28th and 29th. Click here to book your place.