Survey: How B2B stars differ from their rivals

David van Schaick
Graphic with chart showing growth

The job of a B2B marketer in 2023 isn’t without its challenges. Delivering an ever more sophisticated buyer experience while navigating an economic downturn, for one. But today’s environment is, thankfully, a far cry from the height of the pandemic when B2B marketers doubled down on short-term, quick-win strategies in the face of an uncertain future.

Over the past two years, opportunities have emerged for marketers to learn and grow. What lessons can we glean from those who have been most successful?

This year’s Annual Effectiveness Barometer from The Marketing Practice surveyed 800 B2B marketers in the US, UK, Germany and Australia on the role of marketing in their organisations, responses to the recession, and secrets to success.

The report sheds light on the best-performing strategies, by calling out answers from ‘leaders’ (marketers from organisations which outperformed their competition and were twice as likely to grow by more than 10% a year) separately to other respondents.

1. Invest in long-term goals

Half of leading marketers invest more than 40% of their budget in long-term goals, compared to only 38% of the rest. In fact, B2B marketing leaders sense opportunity when it comes to investment, ranking 14% higher than others when it comes to increasing their marketing budgets. Now might be a cost-effective time to invest in trying to win more market share, while others hesitate to spend more.

2. Get creative

Find ways to make your brand stand out and be remembered. Leaders are three times more likely to consider their brand activation extremely creative than other marketers. Distinctiveness is important, but so too is how you differentiate your brand and your offering from others. Leaders are nearly ten times more likely to say their brand is highly differentiated. If you’re not focusing on distinctiveness and differentiation, those important two ‘D’s of marketing, now’s the time to start.

3. Integrate brand and demand

How well does your brand department collaborate with the demand generation team? Do your brand awareness campaigns neatly dovetail with bottom-of-the-funnel activity? There’s a clear gulf in this area between leading marketers – who are three times more likely to say their brand and demand efforts are extremely well connected – and the rest. Find ways to break down silos in your marketing activities, for instance by introducing common scorecards.

4. Align with sales

Yes, that old chestnut: sales and marketing alignment. We all instinctively feel that integrating with the sales team is a good thing, but this report proves it. 20% of leaders have a common plan with sales and work as one team, compared to only 13% of the rest. Building a mutually strong relationship with sales is a must-have for marketers in 2023.

5. Tighten up your buyer journey

Not an easy one, this, when many organisations are grappling with legacy systems and data silos which make a frictionless, cross-channel buyer journey appear a distant dream. The research shows that successful organisations are putting emphasis on this area, however, with 21% of leaders saying their buyer journey is tightly integrated, compared to only 9% of the rest. Every step in the right direction will improve customer experience and, ultimately, the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

What does all this tell us about the anatomy of a successful marketer in 2023? They’ll need sharp eyes to see all the way to the long-term horizon, and they’ll be making investments to back their plans. They’ll use their heads: short-termist, siloed thinking isn’t on the agenda for these B2B leaders. But they’ll also use their hearts: there’s room for creativity and flexibility to grasp near-term opportunities when they arise, without derailing the long-term strategy. A close relationship across teams – brand and demand, marketing and sales – will help 2023’s most successful marketers react to whatever’s around the corner with agility and confidence.

Further reading:

The Effectiveness Barometer research, The Marketing Practice’s extensive annual report into B2B marketing. The agency surveyed over 800 B2B marketers in the US, UK, Germany and Australia to place under the microscope the role of marketing within organisations across Europe, APAC and US. The purpose of this research is to provide B2B marketers with key insights from their peers, as well as offering wider stakeholders within the organisation a fresh perspective and key benchmarking data on marketing strategy.

The full report can be found here.

Written by
David van Schaick
Written by
March 6, 2023