Let’s face it. Marketers are absolutely ace at being positive. It’s what we do. Our jobs basically entail manipulating perception (and sometimes the truth) in order to create the best possible environment for a deal to be made and closed.
That’s why I was a bit bemused by the IDM (Institute of Direct Marketing) recent B2B Barometer, the ‘state of the nation’ study for B2B marketers which was meant to provide an up-to-date and definitive assessment of key issues and trends in the industry.
This study ‘took the pulse’ of UK B2B marketers in Q2 2012, conducting 128 online interviews with 73 client-side B2B marketing professionals, controlling a combined budget of £29.1m, and 55 interviews with B2B marketing agencies. This report looked not only at current issues, but also analysed over three years’ worth of data to look at what has changed in B2B marketing since 2009.
The study itself was full of interesting facts around choice of marketing channels, marketing priorities and the effectiveness of channels to generate leads. I recommend that you click on the link below and read the article in its entirety: http://www.theidm.com/resources/b2b-zone/b2b-barometer/
However, I have to say that I am a bit suspicious about some of the findings – in particular, the ones that relate to growth on the horizon and marketing budgets.
For example, a massive 80% of B2B respondents to the survey expressed their confidence in their organisation’s outlook for the next twelve months and 48% of marketers expect their B2B marketing budgets to rise in the next 12 months; with 15% expecting this increase to be of 25% or more.
IDM even seems to be querying this over optimism by remarking in the report that 80% of turkeys are probably confident of their life prospects after the month of November has passed!
So what’s happening? I think that many of the marketers and agencies that responded to the survey have fallen into the trap of saying what we all want to hear – that business is improving and the future looks rosy. Like everyone else I too, would like to grasp at this straw, but the reality of the situation is that the global money markets are saying something completely different.
The bond markets are sending ‘To the lifeboat messages’ about the global economy to all who will listen. Investors are rushing to buy sovereign bonds in America, Germany and a dwindling number of other “safe” economies. When people are prepared to pay the German government for the privilege of holding its two-year paper, and are willing to lend America’s government funds for a decade for a nominal yield of less than 1.5%, they either expect years of stagnation and deflation or are terrified of imminent disaster. Whichever it is, something is very wrong with the world economy.
That something is a combination of faltering growth and a rising risk of financial catastrophe. Economies are weakening across the globe. The recessions in the euro zone’s periphery are deepening. Three consecutive months of feeble jobs figures suggest America’s recovery may be in trouble. And the biggest emerging markets seem to have hit a wall. Brazil’s GDP is growing more slowly than Japan’s. India is in a mess. Even China’s slowdown is intensifying. A global recovery that falters so soon after the previous recession points towards widespread Japan-style stagnation.
The European Union, the world’s biggest economic area, could plunge into a spiral of bank busts, defaults and depression—a financial calamity to dwarf the mayhem unleashed by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The possibility of a Greek exit from the euro after its recent election, and the deterioration of Spain’s banking sector have all increased this danger.
I would therefore just question this astonishing level of confidence at this stage, and whilst not wishing to be a cynic, I believe a more cautious lens is called for in relation to growth prospects. There’s a lot more to do to before we can breathe a complete sigh of relief and have the sustained confidence levels demonstrated by our colleagues responding to the IDM B2B Barometer survey. In the meantime, let’s temper the fantasy a bit.
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