Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to lead a peer-to-peer virtual roundtable among demand marketing and account-based marketing (ABM) leaders on their plans for 2024. It was such a great discussion that I wanted to share some of the highlights with you here.
To set the table, I shared data from recent Forrester studies that found the majority of B2B marketing decision-makers anticipate that their company’s investment in marketing will increase in the next 12 months. Though some of the increase aligns to US inflation trends from 2021 to 2023, the remainder indicates an acceptance of sorts. The disruption and uncertainty we have faced since the beginning of the decade is the new normal. Marketing is vital to customer value and activating business strategy and must astutely move forward. Frontline marketing subfunctions (e.g., demand marketing, ABM, digital marketing, and postsale customer engagement) are among the top beneficiaries of this trust in marketing in planning for the upcoming year, supported by increased budgets across the personnel, programs, and technology.
All of which leads to a series of questions:
- How are B2B frontline marketing leaders reflecting this confidence in their subfunctions as they plan for 2024?
- Where are they focusing their budgets?
- What are they prioritizing?
During the roundtable, we talked about a key challenge each leader wanted to explore. We also discussed their upcoming plans and where to invest, divest, and experiment over the next annual planning cycle. The peer discussion was exceptional. Common themes included generative AI (no surprise), scaling ABM, utilizing insights, improving customer engagement, and working more effectively. As a follow-up, I shared Forrester’s recently published Planning Guide 2024: Demand And ABM (client access only), summarized below:
- Invest in the evolution of demand marketing. Prioritize smarter ways of working that encourage synergy within and across functions and enable a more agile team to anticipate and respond to changes in buying behavior and preferences. This includes aligning frontline marketers on lifecycle revenue marketing, spending on AI literacy before going all in with generative AI, and focusing digital marketing on self-service throughout the customer lifecycle vs. siloed inbound marketing or outbound marketing activities.
- Divest in dated and ineffective tactics. Redirect marketers away from historic activities that no longer demonstrate value and toward better methods of achieving the intended results. Move away from gating assets as the primary means of identifying prospects, understand the true difference between large-deal marketing with strategic ABM, and absolutely stop enabling revenue development reps (RDRs) to cold call accounts and contacts with no buying signals.
- Experiment with more effective ways to engage audiences. Empower marketers to pilot alternate ways of engaging buyers and customers, and scale successful approaches across frontline marketing teams. To start, make in-person B2B events more inclusive, integrating digital engagement throughout the event, and shift away from traditional linear, episodic programs to dynamic, always-on, adaptive programs.
So, what’s the key takeaway for frontline marketing leaders as they look toward 2024? Plan and invest wisely in 2024 to minimize risks and maximize rewards for your company. Use the guidance above as a starting point. Your teams are crucial to enabling and creating value for buyers and customers, and your company’s growth depends on it. This requires innovative thinking and a willingness to experiment with approaches and technologies that provide flexibility and a competitive edge. Modernizing marketing practices helps B2B marketing leaders keep up with market demands in a constantly changing environment. It also empowers frontline marketing teams to become nimbler and more effective.
Read the full Planning Guide 2024: Demand And ABM report if you are a Forrester client, and feel free to reach out if you need additional help with planning. If you’re not yet a Forrester client, check out our Planning Guides 2024 Hub: Planning Insights And Advice for complimentary planning resources.