We are now publishing the results of our major annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks survey. Our tenth year of doing so!
My thoughts today:
1) Most importantly: The Marketing Transformation effort is accelerating. Many vendors have been at this for a few years but as we now do some accounting for results, we see as many false-starts as we do successes. And so there are renewed and bigger efforts underway to Transform. The best evidence of this is in recent, aggressive marketing budget overhauls and larger, more sweeping re-organizations of the marketing function.
The good news is that top marketing execs and C-Level execs DO understand that “future” Marketing can and should be the game-changer function, and so they are going to keep at the Transformation efforts until they see results.
Here are three major outcomes to watch for and benchmark, on your own Transformation journey: Shorter purchase cycles; reduced overall cost of (combined) Marketing + Sales; and vastly improved customer analytics as a result of integrated marketing plus sales automation efforts.
2) Budgets remain under pressure: we see the average large Tech Vendor getting a 1.7% budget increase this year. That is 1/2 the increase of last year…and we were even “closer” to the 2008-2009 recession at that point. The main culprit is the economy: management teams not willing to spend until better signs of demand pick up. The second factor is media shift: going-to-market with digital ve traditional media.
3) Tech vendors still spend 3-5 times as much on selling as they do on marketing. Heavy salesmanship has deep deep roots in IT vending. My belief is that the future holds a more even application of monies and activities between selling and marketing.
This week the IDC CMO Advisory Service will start revealing results from the 2012 Tech Marketing Benchmark. In this 10th annual study we found some surprises – as you might expect in this era of marketing transformation. In anticipation of the results, I thought I would share a bit of what goes on behind the scenes in the benchmark.
First – what is a benchmark? The term was first used by early land surveyors to describe the fixed point against which all others were compared. Today, benchmarking means the systematic practice of comparing your business processes to what others are doing in order to achieve superior performance. Companies benchmark against peers to learn how they compare with similar companies and best-in-class to compare with those that achieve optimal results.
Why do companies benchmark? A benchmark provides context for decision-making. You spend a million dollars a year on social marketing. So what? If your CEO asks you this question, what will you say? Tech marketers tell us that they like to benchmark for the following reasons:
- Improve the quality of annual planning: Last year’s program budget and gut feelings are no longer sufficient input
- Gain insight into critical trends: Learn what industry leaders and competitors are doing – and how you stack up
- Reallocate costs: Identify areas of overspending and opportunities for better value
- Transform with confidence: Answer questions such as how much to invest in new areas like social marketing or how should I re-organize my department?
- Drive with data: C-level executives increasingly expect marketing leaders to manage their business with the same level of operational excellence as other corporate functions.
- Get an independent view: Benchmark data provides IDC analysts with a wealth of information that make guidance to clients personalized and accurate guidance
How does benchmarking work? At IDC, we use a six-step method.
- Participants are given a standard taxonomy. This is SUPER important. IDC requires that participants bucket responses in accordance with rigorous activity-based costing methods and a marketing taxonomy based on 10 years of experience so that we’re truly comparing apples to apples. We start agonizing over the taxonomy early in the year. It must evolve with changing times but maintain enough consistency for trending. This year, we carved out marketing automation as a new category and adjusted definitions to accommodate new media and practices.
- Participants bucket their marketing investments into categories. We start participant recruitment in the spring. Fortunately, IDC has a large constituency of companies that participate annually, but we always conduct outreach to get new blood.
- IDC collects the data. For IDC’s benchmark, the tech company participants are primarily mid-sized and large companies and we have a 95% B2B focus.
- IDC creates a database of normalized data. This is our secret sauce and takes a ton of work. Every survey gets scrutiny. Anomalies get investigated. We use statistical methods, sophisticated tools, and marketing experience to work the data so that it really means something.
- IDC analyzes the database for benchmarks and trends. We conduct analysis of various kinds – comparing years, industry sectors, and program and people data. We also conduct interviews with CMO’s to lend color to what we are seeing (although we are constantly out talking to practitioners and marketing leaders during the year).
- IDC reports. All participants are invited to a webcast and get a free report that includes a large amount of data and IDC insights. Over 100 tech companies each year contribute to the database and get this free report. For participants who desire a more personalized view, IDC offers a custom service that compares their data with a “market basket” of appropriate peers. IDC conducts an analysis of this custom benchmark and then works with companies to provide guidance decision-making and for instigating change.
Watch this space as well as the press for this year’s findings!