Economically speaking, 2022 has been a wild ride.
Most of our clients continue to experience a range of business disruptions in the aftermath of the pandemic. New challenges have come along too, including unprecedented inflation and a chaotic labour market.
This has made planning a lot more challenging than usual. For most B2B marketers, the central theme of 2023 will probably be “doing more with less”. Even if your growth marketing budget is nominally the same in 2023, it certainly will not go as far with general inflationary pressures and rising labour costs.
So how do you do more with less?
Here are some practical tips from our years of experience planning high-performing, growth-focused programs.
→ Determine the marketing budget you will be working with. At minimum, you should seek to retain your current budget, but ideally you want to make the case for a budgetary increase to account for various inflationary pressures. Remind your financial stakeholders that companies need to keep investing in growth even during challenging times.
→ Before you begin, take all current marketing initiatives off the table - at least mentally. (Yes, all.) Only high-performing marketing initiatives aligned with your top growth areas should go back on the table.
→ Answer the key question: Where will growth come from in 2023? Driving growth with a tighter budget is not about cutting corners or making small sacrifices across the board - it is about investing your resources in the areas with the biggest potential for growth. So find out which solutions, products, regions, segments, etc. represent your biggest opportunities for growth in 2023. You will require input from sales, product teams, finance and market research to answer these questions well.
Once you have established your budget, cleaned the slate and clarified your top growth opportunities, it is time to plan high-impact programs that make the best use of your budget.
Tip #1: Go deeper and wider with current customers.
If you have not yet maximized the potential value of your current customer base, then start there. Current customers are usually the lowest cost, highest reward audience for your marketing - after all, they are in your funnel already. They are opening and forwarding your emails, sharing your posts, attending your webinars, and connecting with your sales team. Assuming you have room to grow within your current customer base, programs focused in this area can be some of the best performing in terms of ROI.
For example, one of our clients discovered massive untapped growth potential to work with more locations within its current customer base. We devised a compelling reason for sales to reach out to those customers (i.e. a new solution for pressing supply chain issues), and just like that, they were closing high-value sign-ups. No complex CPC campaigns, no big media buy - just meaningful outreach to existing customers, backed by solid landing pages and a great offer.
Tip #2: Double down on campaigns for late-stage buyers.
In a tough budgetary cycle, it is especially important to focus on buyer stage and intent. That means focusing on campaigns and content that cater to late-stage buyers and will help you drive short-term growth and ROI.
For example, search marketing campaigns that feature product names and solution names can be the fastest converting because they target buyers who are actively seeking solutions. Are you maximizing the potential inbound traffic from those kinds of searches? If not, double down, expand your campaign and ensure that you are getting as much of that high-intent, late-stage traffic as possible.
How about your content? Consider whether you are focusing your SEO on high-intent searches. And ask your sales team what content they need to move prospects closer to a sale.
The idea is to ensure you are focusing on portions of the funnel where you are likely to make an impact in the short term. (Tight budgets or not, this is a great lens to hold up to any list of marketing initiatives.)
Tip #3: Focus on earlier-stage prospects too - but be selective!
We have all seen how sales targets can have a positive and negative effect on corporate behaviour. They are great for incentivizing individuals and big team pushes for growth in a given fiscal period. On the other hand, if everyone in the organization made decisions based on a quarterly target, we might not spend much time working on high-value, longer-term deals.
And that is precisely what you need to do, even in a tough budgetary year. Some of your biggest growth opportunities will be more than a year away from being realized and you need to work on those now to ensure you have a healthy funnel beyond the current fiscal calendar.
One of the most straightforward ways to do that is to plan and promote content that targets buyers in the early stages of their journey. This kind of content can include:
- Trends-based content: Show buyers where things are going and how they need to evolve in order to compete and avoid losing market share.
- Content focused on “looming issues”: Help buyers get ahead of big industry changes or pending legislation. For example, we have several clients whose customers are heavily affected by pending sustainability legislation. Buyers are doing a lot of research in the early stages of solving these challenges. Timely, helpful content puts your company on their radar at an early stage.
- Economic cases: Some of the best triggers for a long-duration sales cycle is a solid economic case. These can take the form of savings calculators, customer success stories or example ROI scenarios.
Get more help with 2023 budgeting and planning
The last few years have made everyone’s head spin. You have already pivoted, backed-up, moved forward, and then pivoted some more. The idea of a new approach again can be a little daunting. Add in budgetary challenges, labour shortages, and other factors outside of your control, and it can feel overwhelming.
Mezzanine has worked with hundreds of B2B companies facing similar challenges. We have seen what works for them and we have a proven framework to help focus your marketing budgets in areas of high growth.
Get in touch to talk about your needs and challenges.