The UK B2B Marketing Trends 2012 in the B2B Barometer report for April demonstrated that demand generation was the main focus and that trade shows, direct mail, email, website development and print were the main focus for many marketers, with those areas consuming 56% of the overall budget. Digital channels were expected to take 31% of budgets. However, B2B marketers also recognised the importance of face-to-face, with 22% of budget allocation.

The first thing that springs out is that the top priorities point to a mostly tactical approach. It’s all about selling (lead generation, up- and cross-selling, enabling sales teams) and shouting the loudest (raising brand awareness). In the current economic climate, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that demand generation remains a focus.

Of interest is the fact that raising brand awareness is seen as more important than three critical lead generation objectives (generating better quality leads, better enabling sales teams and nurturing leads). It suggests a greater need to cut through the clutter and have an effective brand presence, or better and greater differentiation. However all this could become a focus of quantity of leads rather than quality of leads which would be problematic.

Less of a priority are the more strategic objectives of refining and communicating a brand positioning. As far as brand goes, it seems that the biggest thing is getting the name out there. Which is interesting and may be counter to a companies ability to “cut through the clutter”.

As an interesting contrast, we also asked agencies what they imagined their clients’ highest priorities were for the coming 12 months and for the most part, both clients and agencies were aligned in their focus.

However, agencies deemed their clients to be far less interested in raising brand awareness than they are in reality. While 32% of client-side marketers said raising brand awareness is one of their top three priorities for the next 12 months, only 15% of agencies believed their clients hold this belief.

This may support my view that differentiation is more critical to being able to cut through than just more “brand exposure” unless of course you’ve already resolved your positioning and differentiation issue.

So we know how client-side marketers allocate their budgets, and what they hope to achieve in doing so. But is their approach effective? Participants were asked to score twelve channels according to their effectiveness in achieving their major marketing priorities (10 for most effective, 1 for least effective – average score shown in brackets in tables below).

The table above shows the perceived effectiveness of each channel at generating leads, which is what marketers see as their top priority in the coming 12 months.

Four channels are seen by client-side marketers as being far more effective at generating leads than any other: Trade shows, Email, SEO/PPC and Telemarketing.

Would you agree that these trends are aligned with your own companies objectives and activity?