Anyone paying attention to the headlines and the economic landscape knows that we’re in a period of serious market uncertainty and volatility. It’s great news that we’ve exited the pandemic, but we’re still living in its wake and its aftereffects: see-sawing markets, inflationary pressure, geopolitical tensions, reductions in workforces across the country.
As companies – for better or worse – look for ways to tighten up overhead, there is a temptation to cut marketing budgets and staff. With the risk of a recession, why would anyone consider now to be the right time to partner with an inbound marketing agency?
Marketing is an essential component of any B2B enterprise: as crucial to success as sales, support, research and development, and delivering first-rate products or services. After all, who will buy from you if they don’t know who you are or what you do?
And that’s where leaning into an inbound marketing approach is particularly advantageous: inbound delivers results regardless of broader context. And hiring an inbound marketing agency now affords you the best shot at the inside track when things settle down and the economy hits full steam.
Marketing as ‘need to have’, not ‘nice to have’
Now more than ever, companies view marketing as integral to overall business success. According to the Spring 2023 edition of The CMO Survey conducted by Deloitte, Duke University and the American Marketing Association, marketing teams are key to informing strategies in innovation, revenue growth and market entry. Further, while marketing budgets relative to overall company budgets have dropped to pre-pandemic levels, marketing budgets as a percentage of company revenues have risen significantly.
What’s more, digital marketing initiatives are generally more protected by companies, whereas conventional marketing tactics are being slashed, an indication that savvy business leaders and stakeholders see digital marketing as critical to operational success and ROI.
The CMO Survey also advises that marketers see “having the right talent” as critical to organic growth, even above having the right operating model or technology. The times and trends can and will change, but for now, it’s an arms race for skilled personnel. And that’s where having an experienced agency – a team that is an extension of your own marketing team – can be an X-factor for any business.
How much should we spend on marketing?
A conventional view says that a company should spend roughly 2-5% of its overall revenue on marketing. That view has changed: HubSpot, citing Deloitte research from September 2022, indicates that on average, 8.7% of total revenue is spent on marketing right now.
Drilling down into specific sectors is more telling: manufacturing, healthcare, consulting and tech are all seeing double-digit percentages in marketing spend (13, 18, and 21, respectively) and are committing more than ever to digital marketing. We’re a long way from small fractions, and this data also flies in the face of popular opinion and narratives pointing to an impending recession and economic meltdown.
Smart companies aren’t dialing back; they’re gearing up.
These increases aren’t spending for spending’s sake, either: along with this increased spend is, as mentioned above, an innate understanding that marketing is embedded in strategy, innovation and knowing when to execute in all aspects of a business. Partnering with a veteran agency now allows for working together more quickly on strategic consulting and optimization, reviewing and refreshing prior initiatives where warranted, and brand, departmental and technological alignment.
The advantage of joining forces with an inbound marketing agency
It’s one thing to have the right people, but sometimes having the right people isn’t enough. Employees are more prone to burnout than ever before; in marketing teams, burnout can be contagious and even lethal to business objectives. Trying to do more with less isn’t just counter to what the statistics say, it’s encouraging your marketers to look elsewhere.
A marketing agency with experienced professionals proficient in all digital elements of the craft gives your marketing team needed reinforcements as committed to your success as your own employees. At Kuno, our company’s success is entirely contingent on our clients’ success. When we work with client-partners we believe in and we see mutual buy-in taking place, we’re that much more committed to success because the dichotomy between us and them disappears.
The right marketing agency partner will leverage their experience to inform strategy, from KPIs to tactical plans and playbooks. They’ll also be fair in consulting and collaboration; after all, working together involves give and take from all parties involved. The agency perspective can be a valuable advantage to in-house marketing teams, giving them a second opinion that helps determine the right course of action.
Doing more with more (for less)
Teaming up with an inbound marketing agency that has fluency in your sector lowers the learning curve that might otherwise exist with hiring and onboarding new staff, which allows you to move more quickly into strategy and executables. Speed to marketing, if you will.
And it’s not just expediency that is the advantage, it’s that the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts in these partnerships: the marketing team and the marketing agency working in tandem to do more – and more importantly, drive higher-quality results – than what that marketing team could do alone.
With Kuno, for example, the cost of partnering with a team is often less than the cost of adding two full-time marketing team members, but the trade-off is for a team that can execute on everything from HubSpot optimization to paid digital media advertising to compelling content that leaves contacts, leads and customers all wanting more.
Pivotability (or: It’s ok, not everyone needs to be on TikTok)
Marketing teams too easily and too often can find themselves locked into specific channels, tactics and strategies. Agility is crucial to marketing success, especially in this climate, and that ability to pivot only comes from having the benefit of perspective. Who has time to think big picture or adapt to emerging avenues when stakeholders and executive teams seek results?
Agency partners do!
Our marketing strategists are skilled when it comes to knowing when not to reinvent the wheel, or when to pull the plug on underperforming tactics. This is not to say we take a weathervane approach; not every new platform or flavor of the month is worth pursuing. (Remember Clubhouse?)
An inbound marketing agency’s experience across their book of business should provide crucial marketing intelligence that informs how they approach any particular client’s needs and objectives. We’re not diving headfirst into the latest buzzy developments, we’re diving into the right solutions that drive the right results, and using appropriate data to validate that direction. Sometimes that includes the latest and the greatest. Sometimes not. A good agency partner is able to distinguish between the two and respond accordingly.
Keeping an eye on the long game
Prudent decision making like that mentioned directly above zeroes in on what matters most in marketing, particularly in inbound marketing: making the right choices toward a sustainable medium range and predictable long-term growth and success.
The numbers from March’s CMO Survey bear this out: while current marketing spend is 3:2 short-term performance versus long-term brand building, the ideal figure is closer to 1:1, leaning slightly toward longer, brand-focused plays. Marketers are craving thoughtful, inbound marketing approaches that cater to the now and the not yet in equal measure.
What better way to actualize the ideal than to partner with an agency rooted in the inbound methodology, and recalibrate toward it?
Perception isn’t reality: Now is the time.
This piece started by noting economic uncertainty and market volatility as two possible reasons why there may be some hesitance to invest in marketing right now. But the data indicates the opposite: marketers and stakeholders alike are seeking greater balance to their approaches. Things aren’t always what they seem!
This is an ideal time to embrace inbound marketing and to facilitate that balance in your organization. By partnering with a veteran inbound marketing agency, we can help get you there from wherever you may be. At Kuno Creative, we’re a nimble team of professionals across many marketing disciplines, and every one of us is driven to deliver exceptional marketing strategy, collateral and results for your business.
See what we’ve done for some of our clients, and then have a conversation with us about what we can do for – and with – you.