According to a survey, B2B companies want to put larger marketing campaigns on the back burner for now. Other findings: traditional trade shows continue to be valuable post-Covid, and more and more marketing departments have to face employer branding.
Survey: a gloomy outlook for B2B marketing
Following the Covid shock, the expenditure for marketing activities by companies from the B2B segment has risen significantly. The average overall budget grew by around 13 per cent from the year 2021 to 2022. But the outlook for the coming years is shaped by huge uncertainty. Mainly due to the geopolitical hotspots, decision-makers are hardly able to develop serious forecasts about their companies’ economic prospects. As a result, caution is being taken when it comes to budget planning.
As the survey B2B-Marketing-Budgets 2022 (German) from the bundesverband industrie kommunikation (bvik) shows, the experts questioned expect short-term budget cuts in 2023. Larger projects, above all, are being shelved for the time being. Many of the participants state that they can no longer reliably plan marketing campaigns, and it has become more difficult to gain the required resources and availability from external service providers compared to pre-Covid times.
However, only a small fraction of a companies’ overall expenditure can be saved in marketing. The share of advertising and PR spend amounts to just under half a per cent on average of the overall turnover earned by industrial companies.
Professor Dr Hannes Huttelmaier, economic expert for the survey, reckons with long-term consequences from the current crises: “Covid, the aggressive war on the Ukraine by Russia, the climate catastrophe and worldwide tensions are having drastic consequences on the world order, the economy and all our lives. Against this backdrop, the general uncertainty is massively growing along with the real pressure being put on companies.”
In-person trade shows and events are regaining their significance
The survey also gave an insight into the distribution of the marketing budget in the B2B segment. The significance of in-person trade shows is clearly high, which are being held again in larger numbers in 2022 following the Covid break. While 41 per cent of expenditure went to events in an online format in 2021, only 16 per cent is being invested in these in 2022 – although the costs for online trade shows and similar events are comparably low. This shows that direct personal contact in the business customer segment cannot be replaced one for one by digital formats. In 2022, a total of 76 per cent of the trade show and events budget was invested in appearances live on-site.
The percentage of the external marketing budget for other measures and channels remains largely stable compared to the previous surveys. The main tasks of the B2B marketing departments are, in addition to trade shows and events, online marketing, advertising and brand leadership, according to the survey. The number of employees, too, in the area of marketing and communication has hardly changed compared to previous years.
Employer branding is becoming more relevant
Worth noting is the development being made in the area of employer branding, which showcases the company’s own strength as an employer. Only about one-third of all those surveyed in 2021 stated that this was a task of the marketing department; in 2022, this has grown to nearly two-thirds. It appears, therefore, that employer branding has become much more relevant, as well as convincing specialists of a company’s attractiveness. In line with this is the fact that the importance of the marketing department has grown in the survey participants’ companies.
However, only an average of 6 per cent of the marketing budget has been set aside for employer branding campaigns – which will certainly grow in future. According to bvik, when it comes to the battle for suitable employees, the break-down of marketing, HR and management silos will be decisive.