2011: Redux of 2010
- January 23rd, 2011
- Crandell's Corner
- 2 Comments
Popular consensus was that 2011 would shape up to be a stronger economic year than 2010. The rebound would be firmly established and, as a result, everyone had sugar plums of bigger budgets dancing in their heads. But the facts paint a different story.
The artifacts of planning invade every nook and cranny of the organization and the resulting 2011 budgets are like ‘gifts’; some things you really want and others you hoped you wouldn’t get. Part of the challenge of the annual planning process is that it curiously resembles the legislative process – a large dose of lobbying based on strongly held personal beliefs about the future and a sprinkling of facts. Which brings to mind a favorite Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Doyle) quote, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” (http://www.quotiki.com/quotes/14005)
Marketing is responsible for researching the facts on emerging trends and educating the rest of the management team, well in advance of the formal planning process. By starting out with the facts and having a solid understanding of competitive landscape and company competencies, the company can develop realistic stretch objectives. A good place to start learning the facts is with economic forecasts from various financial and governmental organizations. Then talk to customers and peers, look at the leading indicators of the pipeline, and talk with the analysts.
One data point is Andrew Bartel’s annual tech industry outlook. ( http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/us_tech_industry_outlook_for_2011/q/id/57258/t/2). His conclusions mirror what I found across numerous other sources.
“2011 will be more challenging for tech vendors than either 2009 or 2010. … But 2011 will be a year in which (B2B) IT buyers will be torn between the negatives of weak revenue growth and potential for renewed recession versus the positives of good profits, ample cash sitting on balance sheets, and the attractions of new Smart Computing and cloud computing solutions.”
If you’re in the software business, Andrew forecasts growth to be above 8%. If one digs into the details by B2B technology and by vertical industry, there are pockets of growth but they need to be carefully chosen.
For B2B marketers, this prognosis mandates a different strategy than many were hoping for. Instead of investing in awareness building, experimentation with new engagement models and leveraging new frictionless ways of selling, the marketing strategy for 2011 becomes focused on building third party validation of value and credibility. Companies will only part with their cash if they have assurances from their peer network that the vendor’s solution ‘delivers as advertised’ and other companies, like them, openly confirm this. Net, net – it’s a safe buy.
Demand generation will be hard won and mostly through promoting industry analyst coverage, awards, product reviews, customer success studies, and ROI calculators, and building trusted relationships mono-on-mono with prospect decision makers. Mindshare building activities focus on customer and partner testimonials, engaging target personas in conversations in social communities, highlighting solution capabilities and directly tying them to tangible results.
2011 B2B marketing winners will be those that bond with their target markets and deliver tangible value – just like we all had to do in 2010.