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What Positive 2014 B2B Sector Outlook Means for Marketers

Date posted: January 30, 2014

According to a release by The Wall Street Journal, business-to-business (B2B) firms expect marketing budgets to rise on average in 2014, with the majority of B2B firms entering the new year with a positive outlook after meeting or exceeding revenue goals last year.

This is based on a recently completed Forrester Research/Business Marketing Association (BMA) study, which uses data based on a survey of 56 B2B marketing executives, fielded in Q3 2013.

These executives expect budgets to increase by 6% on average, with a total of 32% of surveyed marketers expecting some budget increase this year. The release tempers this positive outlook a little:

But despite this cautious optimism, many marketers still face ongoing pressure to justify their budgets: More than half of those surveyed said they feel challenged to connect marketing goals to business objectives in ways that defend budget requests, or find it difficult to attribute marketing activity directly to revenue results as another means to justify budgets.

Quoted in the WSJ release, BMA chairwoman Kathy Burton Bell cites the fragmentation occurring with budgets that chief marketing officers (CMOs) are addressing. “Specifically, we’ll see CMOs trading off traditional ad dollars in favor of digital, investing in content marketing, and carrying on the love/hate relationship with trade shows and conferences,” she says.

Among other developments expected in the year ahead:

  • Technology, data analytics, and innovation will top the list of priorities CMOs must figure out how to fund.
  • Bigger bets are being placed on marketing technology: 61% percent of surveyed marketing execs expect the ratio of technology spend to marketing program spend to increase.
  • Customer engagement will continue to rise in the pantheon of strategic marketing plans.

How do these survey results square with what you’re planning in the year ahead? We’d love to hear your opinion on where B2B marketing is headed in 2014.