According to the latest research from Gartner, marketing spend amongst high-tech and technology providers is on the rise again in 2010 – after a year in which more than half of these vendors cut their marketing budgets.
But the resurrection of high-tech marketing budgets doesn’t, it seems, mark a return to a pre- recession marketing mix. According to Gartner research vice president Laura McLellan, “Marketing has to continue to look at being more efficient and cost effective” and she noted that many marketing groups were “searching for better ways to measure and show the value of marketing”.
The "new normal"
Well, hurrah to that. But what is this likely to mean in practice? Gartner predicted a “new normal” in which IT buyers rethink their spending approach and identified key priorities for many IT vendors in 2010 as sales programs to support both the direct and indirect sales forces together with increased investment in positioning and external communications.
These targeted investments are certainly consistent with some of the best practice I’ve been observing in high-tech companies that are managing to ride the rebound, rebuild their pipelines and get their sales and marketing engines running effectively again.
Clarity of market focus
Clarity of market focus requires that organisations define their ideal customer profiles as well as understanding the hierarchy of needs that drive buying behaviour – but perhaps most importantly it requires a deep understanding of the sphere of influence that surrounds these prospects. Much of the increased investment in positioning and external communications will, I predict, be focused on reaching out to and through this BuyerSphere.
Effectiveness of the sales process
It’s no longer accurate (or fashionable) to describe sales being from Mars and marketing from Venus. The traditional tensions between the two functions are completely unproductive in the “new normal”, and it’s striking how organisations that have successfully aligned sales and marketing around a common focus on the customer are doing better by every important measure of performance. Gartner’s recommended focus on programs to support the sales process (and thereby facilitate the buying process) is a reflection of the growing trend towards collaborative behaviour.
Where’s your marketing money going in 2010?
How do your marketing spend priorities align with Gartner’s findings? Have you identified a “new normal” in the buying behaviours of your target markets? And have your sales and marketing teams learned to play nicely together?