Get Ready for the Upswing

Last week, I attended the IDC Directions conference in Santa Clara and came away with some interesting statistics. John Gantz, Chief Research Officer from IDC had some sobering data about how the recession hit the IT market:
  • The IT industry lost $1.7 Billion between 2007 and their forecast to 2013
  • BUT, there is a recovery it’s way
  • Nearly half of the new spending in 2013 is expected to come from emerging markets, where as in 2009, it was around ¼ of IT spend.
  • There will be an incredible proliferation of new devices and sensors which will connect objects to objects, devices to devices. You will be able to put a sensor in your FedEx package that tracks not only its exact location throughout the journey, but the surrounding temperature, and even vibrations.  Check out this video to get a glimpse of the future. HP Labs: Central Nervous System for the Earth
  • We’re about to hit an IT boom period. Companies have been holding off IT expenditures for as long as possible. When demand begins to pick up, these companies will need to upgrade ASAP to capitalize on growth.
  • John peppered us with all sorts of overwhelming statistics about how many petabytes, trillions of instant messages, and cell phone subscribers there will be.

If you have 5 minutes, you can get the full IDC prediction here.


Are Organizations Ready?

If John’s right, we need to begin turning on our jets in sales and marketing to get ready for the upswing. As many of you know and have likely personally experienced, marketing is one of the first areas to get hit when it’s time to tighten the belt.

What happened to the sales pipeline when they turned off marketing? Anything? Senior execs may not notice an immediate change in the bottom line which is why many conclude that marketing is a cost center, a waste of money. Over a long b2b sales cycle here’s what will eventually happen without the proper marketing investment.

  1. Fewer leads
  2. Deterioration of awareness and branding
  3. Lack of an overarching story that shapes your offering in the customer’s mind
  4. Fewer tools the sales force can leverage to convince customers of your value proposition

Marketing is an investment, not a cost center. Yes, sales will always close the deal and therefore get 98% of the credit for each sale. However, like a missile on its way to hit its target, there are thousands of touchpoints and variables both online and off that a customer hits before he or she ends up speaking with a sales person. And, once the sales person is out of the room, there are dozens more Google searches, conversations with colleagues, blog reviews, and industry forums the customer will use as he or she gathers information to make the final buying decision – many of these are “unmanaged,” out of the vendor’s control.

Customer Touchpoints

Touchpoints a customer may encounter throughout the phases of the b2b buying cycle.

Marketing’s job is to get into and influence as many of these touchpoints as possible to guide the customer down the right trajectory.

So, if you’re an executive wondering when the downturn is going to end, don’t wait until you report positive earnings to crank marketing back up. Like investors who sell all their stock and stuff cash under their mattress, those who keep marketing on ice too long will miss the boat when the turn around happens. Competitors will have already stolen your customers’ mindshare with their slick new “renaissance” campaign. Now is the time to recapture customer mindshare BEFORE they buy.

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