The direction of travel in marketing over the last decade is unmistakable. Today’s B2B marketers are now under more pressure than ever before. No surprise there.
However, when commentators talk about this, the focus tends to be on the tactical. It’s all the choices and options that cause the stress. It’s navigating an ever-changing marketing landscape that’s the main problem.
So we hear about the explosion in media channels, or conversely the threat of the Googlebook duopoly, or social in all its forms, or the bright shiny new world of AI and AR/VR. We hear how you must be all in on ABM or inbound or content marketing or, or, or...
In reality, the real issue is more fundamental than this. Put in its most brutal terms: B2B marketers are under more pressure than ever before to deliver bottom-line revenue.
Sometimes this is couched in terms of pipeline. Sometimes it is about closed:won rates. Sometimes it’s about speed of sales cycle. But the end result is that the C-suite is increasingly looking to marketing to hit numbers that have hard currency attached to them.
B2B marketers: under pressure to perform
Of course, we’re all under pressure to deliver, nothing new there. If you want a stress-free life, B2B marketing probably isn’t for you. But, to be clear, for many, the levels of pressure we’re seeing today are intense.
In our study, 52% of mid-market and enterprise marketers said they are under a lot of pressure to deliver pipeline and revenue. This increases to 56% when we look just at enterprise marketers.
What’s more, it’s increasing.
A massive 86% of respondents say the pressure has become worse in the last 12 to 18 months. Just under half (49%) say it’s increased a lot. In fact, split out the responses by sector and the picture is even more stark.
Professional services has seen the biggest change followed by technology and B2B financial services businesses. This results in 70% of professional services marketers feeling under a lot of pressure with their tech brothers and sisters not far behind on 60%. (The makers of Valium must be laughing.)
Intense is the new normal in B2B marketing
Ok, but maybe this is just the new normal. Maybe we’ve hit a steady state and just need to adapt. Maybe, like new tech on the Gartner Hype Cycle, this will all begin to plateau soon.
We admire your optimism. Sadly, it’s not shared by those we interviewed.
Some 59% of respondents expect the pressure to continue to intensify in the coming year. And you know those professional services and tech marketers we mentioned above? They expect it to intensify the most (70% and 63% respectively).
Seriously, if you know a marketer in either of these sectors, stop reading this and go give them a hug. They need it.
Pipeline and revenue: important and urgent
Given the pressure, it’s no wonder that pipeline and revenue are becoming key objectives for the year ahead. Across our respondents, 31% say increasing marketing-driven revenue is a key marketing priority. Again, the bigger you are, the more you’re feeling the pinch. Among enterprise marketers, we see this number increase to 34%.
And it’s not just about professional services and tech marketers. Over half of those in manufacturing businesses are placing revenue in the key priority bucket for the next 12 months too.
There is a truism in business that what matters gets measured. Today, with all the talk about data-driven marketing, B2B marketers are measuring more factors than ever before. The survey’s respondents are no different, tracking a wide range of metrics.
But when we asked them about the number one metric they are using to measure performance, increasing pipeline/revenue came top (just ahead of closed:won rates).
3 things to do right now
- Get on the same page as the C-suite. Understand how marketing fits into the wider strategy of the business. Dig deep to make sure you’re speaking the same language.
- Even if you’re not feeling the pressure on revenue yet, it’s coming. Start to look at what you’ll need to change if senior management hits you with a significant revenue target.
- Get ahead of the problem – set your own revenue targets for the year ahead now (even if these stay within the marketing department).
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