April 20, 2015 | Laura Baines
I was very encouraged to read that the latest Bellwether Report recorded some healthy financial results for the first quarter of 2015. Marketing executives are forecasting sustained growth in 2015/2016 for a third consecutive year. In fact overall growth for the year was the best recorded since 2004/2005.
Over 27% of companies surveyed reported an upward revision to their marketing budgets during Q1 2015, compared to around 15% that signalled a fall. The respective net balance of +11.8% was a marked improvement on Q4’s reading of +6.1%.
This all points to a positive start to the year. Even when faced with the prospect of a general election, the majority of marketing executives interviewed seem to be shrugging off elements of uncertainty.
All Bellwether categories are forecast to benefit from this expected upward revision to total marketing budgets. Happily, I can also report that events and main media advertising should benefit the most, suggesting that companies are still willing to maintain spending on both high-level campaigns (e.g. TV, cinema and press), and on looking to further their footprint in cost-effective online marketing and experiential solutions.
Positive prospects for finance and marketing budgets are rooted in a strengthening macroeconomic climate. Allied with official estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) indicating solid growth rates in both consumer spending and investment in 2015, the Bellwether survey predicts a real-term increase in UK ad spend of +4.2% in 2015, before growth cools slightly in 2016 to +3.6%.
Event marketing budgets rose from +2.4% to +5.7% over the first quarter of 2015, extending the period of growth to 18 months.
What is clear is the importance of events and their relevance in B2B marketing, especially for those who get the format right and fully embrace the array of tools available for promotion.
Some companies are describing how events are part of an experience economy and are an integral part of the marketer’s toolkit.
Event organisers who support the traditional as well as digital tools (iBeacons, apps, social media, blogs, data capture) will in no doubt continue to experience greater audience engagement.
With the pressure on delivering greater ROI, companies need to use events as part of their holistic marketing programme and fully integrate digital and physical tools into the process. This in turn will deliver greater insight, more conversations and, ultimately, those all-important customer conversions.
The IPA Bellwether Report features data drawn from a panel of around 300 UK marketing professionals, who were carefully selected to represent key business sectors, drawn primarily from the nation’s top 1,000 companies – including Nimlok.
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