Brands Must Redirect Budgets To Customers Before Capitalizing On Technology

As marketing departments increase revenue-generating strategies to become a profit center, marketers must invest more of their budgets in customer relationships. More than 80% of marketers plan to shift company budgets to become more consumer-centric in 2015, per a new study. This means reconfiguring their organizational structure, along with putting more of their budgets into supporting consumers. 

The 2015 Planning Report, Evolving Strategic and Financial Plans for the Always-On Consumer finds that marketers plan to redirect their spending from channel- or product-focused initiatives to consumer-focused initiatives. More than half of respondents participating in the study commissioned by the Leapfrog Marketing Institute said they plan to realign their efforts with consumer life stages, defined as acquisition, retention, loyalty and CRM. Those who own and influence budgets participated in the survey fielded in December 2014.



Marketers need to perfect the fine art of consumer relationships and the value they bring to the company long term. Those relationships are technology enabled, not drive, otherwise the company will end up in a ditch, per Jim Carey of Northwestern University, one of the study's advisory board members. "There are days when I pick up my phone and feel like I'm calling someone in 1987," Carey said. "I expect to have a conversation about bleeding edge, Big Data. Instead, we talk about business problems and people and how decisions get made. I had this on vinyl. I've seen this before. These are smart people in smart organizations."

Carey said companies need to either move forward of get left behind. Data from the 2015 Planning Report shows some companies have begun to get the message that revenue comes from consumers and more companies need to focus on consumers, even when considering technology to support the relationship.

One of the most interesting finds involves the shift in thinking about mobile. When marketers were asked whether their mobile marketing strategies will have separate marketing budgets this year, or be combined into larger buckets, 15% said they will remain separate and 83% said they will be combined. The study suggests the strategy of combing the budget aligns with the shift from channel-centric budgets to consumer-centric budgets. It also signifies a focus on the consumer rather than the device.

"Marketing means managing a relationship, not a series of one-night stands," Carey said.

For the 83% of marketers who have integrated mobile into a larger marketing budget, it is interesting to note that 52% will place mobile into a digital marketing budget, which tends to act as more channel-based than consumer-based. This contradicts the larger budget shift noted earlier, and may potentially explain the development gap challenges highlighted in the Benchmark Study, this studies companion report.

In the Planning Survey, only 35% of respondents plan to see an increase in marketing budgets in 2015. Of those, nearly 75% expect their budgets to increase less than 10%. Part of that's due to how marketers adapt, predict and quickly respond to shifts in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Nearly 70% of respondents expected to produce measurable ROI from at least 50% of their budget. This aligns with learnings from the Benchmark Study, in which 63% of respondents cited ROI as the most important outcome for their budget.

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