The continuing ‘tech marketing transformation'—outlook for 2012

Rich VancilTech marketing organizations have been in a snow-globe swirl of re-organization, budgetary upheaval and operational transformation over the past two years. IDC expects some of this volatility will settle down a bit as we work our way through 2012 and beyond.

This does not mean that the "tech marketing transformation" will not continue to sweep through organizations. It means that living with transformational change and embracing it is now the new reality. But it will not rock the marketing organization with the "shock factor" of recent periods.

Some specific findings from the IDC Tech Marketing Barometer Survey of February. (This is a survey of CMOs or senior tech marketers at 60 companies with average annual revenue of more than $9 billion.)

Tech CMOs have told IDC that they expect an average 3.5% increase in their marketing budgets this year. Last year at the same time, the same CMOs were expecting an 8% increase—a number that just did not hold up. And so IDC believes that CMOs are now working with a more realistic set of assumptions  and expectations about their funding.

This current marketing budget investment trend, in which marketing budgets are growing at about half the rate of revenue, could be with us for a while, until real confidence returns to top-line growth and the underlying investment to drive that.

In the meantime, our guidance for Tech CMOs with regards to budgets is two-fold.

  • First, search for marketing budget efficiencies within the existing cost envelope. Typically you will find those opportunities at the "boundaries" of the various marketing organizations: where corporate marketing shares a boundary with product marketing, or where corporate marketing shares a boundary with field marketing.
  • The second area will take more time and effort. It involves re-drawing the pathways through which a customer or prospect is  "processed" through all of the marketing and sales execution—steps that comprise your current "business model" for creating a customer. This work will require a tight working compact and mental alignment between the CMO and the CSO (chief sales officer).

Other survey findings:

The pace of decisions and deployments for marketing automation software and services is seen to be booming. Allocations for this area are expected to be as much as 9% of discretionary marketing spend this year. This is triple the rate of previous years. In general, IDC believes that most marketing organizations are NOT ready to deal with the complexity of marketing automation, from the standpoint of proficiency and maturity.

Look for social marketing to settle in a bit, as it more comfortably takes its place as a value-adding member of the marketing mix.

"Solutions marketing" is projected to jump to the top of the list for new marketing personnel this year. IDC hears and sees a lot of talk about "campaign marketing" and “solutions marketing." We encourage you to put the words away and ask: What does this really mean on an activity basis? What will be specifically new and different with these new people and initiatives?

Continued "good luck through hard work" in 2012!

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