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Balancing the books

 As another year draws to a close, many organisations unaffected by the consumer Christmas surge will be taking advantage of the seasonal lull to reflect on the success or otherwise of key activities from the previous 12 months.

But what does taking stock mean? How methodical are B2B marketers about assessing what works and what doesn't? How much of the review process (assuming there is one) is based on assumption versus cold hard fact?

Too much, according to new research from Marketsafe, a business sales and marketing information specialist, which points to great waste in how UK businesses allocate their marketing spend. The average business spends an average of £28,187 each year on business-to-business sales and marketing, with new clients won in the UK costing an average of £472 in sales and marketing activity alone. Imagine, then, the cost of the customers that slip through the net.

Marketsafe's research points to a 'customer intimacy' gap where firms fail to adequately investigate and qualify potential new business opportunities, with many companies neglecting to do their homework before approaching a new business target. Less than half (43 per cent) go to the customer's web site before contacting them and a similar proportion don't check who is the most appropriate person to approach. Shockingly, 16 per cent confess to conducting no research whatsoever into a prospective business customer before approaching them. Andrew Harris, Marketsafe's MD, says, “There is an attitude, particularly with direct marketing, to target as many businesses as possible and wait for 'the two per cent' to reply.”

Sadly, many businesses don't get tough on marketing until problems have clearly developed. Clientmind, a firm specialising in auditing high-value B2B clients' activity has plenty of examples, such as the large financial organisation that couldn't understand why its lovely new brochures were being chucked in the bin.