Despite the dark clouds hanging over the economy and growing fears of a recession in 2008, services and solutions marketers are optimistic about the year ahead. In fact, according to new ITSMA research, their members are predicting robust revenue growth, bigger marketing budgets, and increased headcount in 2008.
ITSMA members reported services revenue growth of 19% in 2007. Survey respondents expect that growth to keep right on going, anticipating 18% services revenue growth for the year ahead.
Services marketing budgets are also expected to rise, with 61% of the respondents predicting an average increase of 18.9%, 15% of respondents predicting an average decrease of 9.9%, and 24% of respondents predicting that their services marketing budgets will stay the same.
In addition, 40% of survey respondents reported that they expect to increase headcount over the course of the year, 48% expect their staffs to stay the same size, and only 12% indicated that their departments will shrink.
Budget Allocations: Sales Enablement, Offering Management, and Marcom Are Key Categories for '08
Looking to increase marketing's impact on the business, 67% of the respondents say they will funnel more resources into sales enablement initiatives in 2008, with only 15% indicating that they will decrease spending in this area. Other budget categories that are expected to receive higher levels of investment in 2008 include:
- Strategy and market planning
- Offering management
- Marketing communications
In terms of the marcom budget breakdown, it's clear that the emphasis is on building relationships and engaging customers and prospects in dialogue. Look for increased investment in digital marketing, face-to-face events, and thought leadership in 2008.
More Marketers Recognize That Experimentation = Success
The best marketers are the ones who take risks, make mistakes, and learn along the way. Even though the economy looks a bit precarious, you can be sure that the best marketers aren't conservatively sitting on the sidelines. They're getting their hands dirty experimenting with new tools and approaches—especially digital ones.
This year, marketers are especially high on search, with 70% of the respondents reporting that they are increasing their investment in search engine marketing (both paid and organic). Between 50% and 60% of the respondents also indicated that they're increasing spending on:
- Online communities
Wikis and virtual worlds like Second Life were less popular: Fewer than 30% of the respondents expect to increase spending in these areas in 2008.
Top Marketing Priorities
In 2008, marketing's priorities are more measurable than ever, demonstrating how important it is for marketers to be able to prove that their activities are having an impact on the business.
This year, the top five priorities for services marketers are:
- Differentiating the company or offerings
- Enabling the sales force
- Generating demand
- Improving customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Developing thought leadership
Although it didn't make it into marketers' top five priorities for 2008, increasing the use of digital tools and online marketing channels rose from number 16 on the list in 2007 to number 7 in 2008—a dramatic leap that ITSMA is happy to report, given that recent research showed that the best marketers are experimenting more with newer marketing techniques such as blogging, podcasting, and social networking.
Additional information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at www.CRMindustry.com