Last week, MarketingSherpa published the results of a survey of B2B marketers that it conducted earlier this year.  The survey was directed to marketers in B2B organizations with revenues of more than $250 million and asked those marketers to describe their most important objectives, priorities, challenges and "pain points" for 2009.

It should come as no surprise that the economy is having a major impact on marketers' views.  When asked to identify their biggest challenges for 2009, 64 percent of survey respondents said that pricing pressure is reducing profit margins, 62 percent said that negotiations with prospective buyers are taking longer, and 48 percent observed that it is becoming harder to get prospects "sales-ready."  Wtih companies making lower profit margins on each sale, B2B marketers will probably be challenged to generate more sales-ready leads or to lower their cost per lead.

The survey also asked marketers to rank the top pain points they are currently experiencing.  Again, it should not be surprising that tight budgets and reduced resources topped the list of pain points identified by survey respondents.  For the balance of 2009 and probably for part of 2010, marketers will be required to produce better, or at least comparable, results with fewer resources.  The next three items on the "pain" list were producing innovative content, obtaining analytics to support marketing tactics, and keeping up to date on emerging marketing tactics and technologies.

The chart reproduced below depicts one set of survey findings about the priorities of B2B marketers in 2009.  The "x" axis of the chart shows the percentage of marketers that described each tactic or goal as their "top priority" for 2009.  The "y" axis shows how survey respondents perceived the degree of difficulty for each tactic or goal based on the  expertise and resources required.  Finally, the size of each "bubble" in the chart represents the percentage of firms engaged in a tactic.


What can print service providers/marketing services providers learn from this survey?  I suggest that the most important message is that, in order to win business in this difficult economic environment, PSP's/MSP's must be prepared to quantify and "prove" the economic value of their solutions and services.  It's clear that B2B marketers will be looking for solutions that help improve the cost-effectiveness of their marketing efforts.  If PSP's/MSP's can demonstrate such value, they have a chance to grow, even in these tough economic conditions.  If not, well, it could be a very long year.