2012 Tech Marketing Budgets, Trends

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.

Rich Vancil

IDC Tech Marketing Benchmark: Behind the Scenes

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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!

 

Technology Buyers Tell Us How to Speed Up the Buying Cycle

IT leaders making enterprise-level technology purchases report that their buying cycle has increased by more than 20% in the last three years, according to IDC’s 2012 Buyer Experience study. They are not happy about this fact and were not shy about telling IDC about how vendors can speed things up.

IDC’s 2012 Buyer Experience Study reveals that CIO’s making enterprise-level technology purchases report that their buying cycle is now longer than five months when multiple vendors are competing for their business.

I find several things interesting about this fact.

1. The length of the B2B tech buying cycle continues to increase.  In 2009, the buying cycle was about 4.5 months and is now 5.4 months. It has increased more than 20% in three years.

2. IT executives have consistently told IDC that they would like their buying cycle to be shorter. Three months seems to feel about right to them – which is 40% less than what they currently experience. The CIO’s readily admit that their own companies are to blame for most of the delays – 60.8% of the delay they attribute to their own buying process complexity.  More people are now involved in each decision, for example. However, 35.6% of the delay, IT leaders say is caused by poor marketing and sales processes on the part of the vendors.

Clare Gillan, IDC Senior Vice President of Executive and Go-to-Market Programs, told the audience at the recent IDC CMO Advisory client meeting that survey participants were very clear on how vendors could help them speed up the buying cycle. Here is advice from the IT leaders along with just a few quotes:

  • Listen: “Listen to what we are asking and what we want before presenting a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all solution.”
  • Justify: “Help us write the business case.”
  • Honesty: “Put everything about your product on the table, including the short-comings.”
  • Pricing: “Provide all available options with associated pricing up-front.”

 Respect, service, and transparency – these are the communication attributes I perceive when I read the survey results. Are these attributes in your persona descriptions?

3. One more thing I find interesting about the reported length of the buying cycle:  Does five-plus months seem short to you? In contrast, marketing and sales leaders reported that 19 months is their average sales cycle for enterprise-type deals according to IDC’s 2011 Tech Marketing and Sales Productivity Benchmark studies.  I don’t think I have ever heard a B2B tech marketer or sales leader report a sales cycle of just a couple months – except for small ticket items, repeat purchases (which would not be included in this survey question’s category) or the occasional purveyor of some super-hot-can’t-wait solution.

My guess is that buyers have a different definition of when the buying cycle starts than do marketers and sales people.  What does this mean to marketers who are engaged with buyers in very early stage conversations? Something to think about.

 

Big Data Comes to Marketing?

What’s the most commonly heard word in marketing organizations today? It is “Transformation.”

Dramatic transformational change is sweeping through marketing functions in most industries. And the main “change agent” is the customer. Or what we at the IDC Executive Advisory like to call the “New Buyer” . Our customers and prospects today are crafting their own routes to learning about products and services. They are motivated and skilled at educating themselves and learning from peers. They travel through numerous digital pathways in their exploration process. And by the time they come to a meeting with the vendor sales person, they are smart and savvy. They are empowered.

Marketers need to ask and answer these questions: Where did our Buyers come from? What do they know already? And above all: How do we  add new value to where they are in the process of discovery about our product or service? The New Buyer dynamic creates volumes of new data and customer intelligence analysis opportunities for vendors.

In turn, Those in the marketing job function must be able to bring better data into any planning meeting, including discussions on budgets and investments; programs and campaigns; or performance measurement. Hard data needs to complement the “softer side,” or the “art,” of marketing.

The tools for accessing and mining data, and turning data into insights, are now plentiful for today’s marketers. And, The marketing job function might be the last of all an organization’s major functions to become automated.

The marketing winners of tomorrow will be masters of rapid data management — able to turn data into intelligence, intelligence into analysis, and analysis into decision support and execution. Achieving this will be the first step in the rudiments of sales-to-marketing cost control.

For the CMO, there are three critical, inter-departmental, data-driven intersections that need to be created and nurtured. Marketing is now too important to run in isolation, so here are the three key intersections:

1. The Marketing and CIO intersection. New IDC research shows that the investment in marketing automation technologies in 2012 will be at three to four times the rate of 2011 levels. Automation technology development is going to sweep through sales and marketing over the next 10 years.

2. The Marketing and Sales (CSO, or Chief Sales Officer)  intersection. Today, the CMO needs to be able to connect sales technologies, such as CRM, with new marketing automation technologies.

3. The Marketing and CFO intersection. The CMO needs to deliver a return on investment in measurable terms in order to have meaningful budgeting and planning discussions with the CFO. Measuring impact of push programs in terms of conversion to leads, opportunities, and revenue is the game today.

I like to say that there will be more change in Marketing in the next five years, than we have seen in the past 25 years combined. These Marketing data and IT automation issues will be at the forefront for the next generation of successful CMOs.