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Sponsored by Closed Loop

B2B Marketers, raise your hand if you’re ready for 2023 to be over.  

If you’re wondering: 

  • How can I possibly do more with less?
  • How can I still demonstrate continued growth?
  • How do I meet the sustained high expectations of stakeholders?
  • How do I generate creative campaigns at scale?
  • And... how can I best protect my own job security in all this? 

As a trusted digital advertising agency partner to clients like Calendly, Clover, RingCentral, Harvest and more, Closed Loop has helped B2B marketing leaders deliver exceptional results under constantly shifting circumstances.  

We hear you, and we’re here for you. Like therapy for marketing professionals, we help navigate the storm. 

If you’re looking for a fresh start in 2024, Closed Loop can immediately identify wasted spend in your advertising campaigns, stretch and redirect those dollars to stronger revenue generating channels and uncover new growth opportunities in your market segment. 

Qualifying Exit Five community members are invited to receive a complimentary custom advertising review with actionable insights to make a significant impact in the new year.Lock in your custom advertising review today >>


What Marketers Are Budgeting For In 2024 


I recently listened in on a conference where basically every session started with the speaker saying “In 2023, marketers are being asked to do more with less,” or, “budgets have been slashed this year,” etc. You get the idea. 


Yes, many budgets are tighter. Yes, companies are struggling to grow more now. Yes, leaders are looking more closely at the ROI of marketing teams and programs.


But simultaneously, the machine hums along. We keep the channels on that work. We cut the things that don’t drive results, and we have to plan for 2024. 


At the beginning of 2023, a little over a third of marketing budgets were reduced. But over a third increased, and around a third stayed flat (according to this poll). 

A more recent SaaStr survey confirmed that out of ~1,700 responses, a full 71% of people in SaaS are feeling “more bullish about 2024 than 2023. And only 9% think things will be tougher next year.”


So the more nuanced situation is that most people are still marketing, hoping to grow, and budgeting for that in 2024. 


I recently asked the community what they’re budgeting for in 2024, and was excited to see a range of hires, tactics, channels, etc.  


Hey Exit Five - We're turning the corner into Q4 and budgeting for next year.


What tools, tech, agencies, or hires are you budgeting for in 2024 that you're not currently spending on today?


So, what are you hoping to get in the 2024 budget that's not in there today?

This makes good sense to me - shifting away from sponsorships (where you don’t always control the outcome or if it will drive revenue), and leaning into owned events. This doesn’t have to be a huge conference by the way to drive revenue - getting 50-100 of your best customers and prospects into a room together is magical.

Doubling down on owned media/activities like: events, content, video - We’ve heard this from many people actually. Building a content engine takes time and doesn’t always directly correlate to ROI, but it’s such a solid long term play that people are excited about it for 2024.

Hiring sales and marketing. Say what you will about the state of job boards… accretive roles are still moving.

This seems like a product led marketing growth motion based on the PMM and Product data analyst hires. They’re attempting to drive company growth through optimizing product usage.

Part time marketing help – I’ve heard of this happening more and I’ve been seeing it more especially at the earlier stages, where companies might not have budget for full time staff. This is absolutely an option to advocate for if you're making tradeoffs in a budget. Like hey - we can use a freelancer for X, if I can increase program spend on Y channel. 

Others still are leaning into typical demand gen motions. Investing more in email marketing, testing to find sweet spots in paid acquisition, continued investment in SEO (and driving efficiency in that channel through AI). We have owned content again as well. 


High Level Overview of Strategic/Budget Plays 


There are a few ways to think about budget and company growth strategy right now, on a very high level (also borrowed from Jason Lemkin over at Saastr). 

  1. Cut all spending, do free tactics
  2. Spend what you can, but not as much as before
  3. Stay bullish, grow aggressively

Cut all spending, do free tactics

Focus the marketing budget on Free / Very High ROI channels.


This can work well in the short term. Spend is cut, and you can still drive growth from inbound leads with high intent, and you can harvest opps from your existing list of prospects.


The issue is that, in this case, growth slows pretty rapidly. You don’t drive any growth from the people who you could have captured, if you had jumped into their orbit (i.e. ads, sponsorships) vs them coming inbound. So a whole chunk of the market stops hearing about you.


So you’re not engaging anyone that’s a medium or low intent prospect - only the high intent ones.


Spend what you can, but not as much as before

So what’s a better approach if you can spend something (even if not at the same rate as before). 


Pick a fixed budget that is the most you can handle…to keep the train moving on those medium and low intent prospects. 


As a leadership team, get super in the weeds on the budget for the entire business and figure out what you can handle spending on sales and marketing. Give functional leaders that set amount and see what they can do with it. Even if the budget gets chopped greater than 30%, you can still direct that spend toward the prospects who wouldn’t have otherwise come into your funnel, so that you don’t entirely lose touch with the large segment of the market that’s interested but needs some convincing to buy. 


It feels risky to target those folks because they’re more expensive to close than the high intent prospects, but the beauty of SaaS is that they’ll stay around, upsell, and LTV:CAC just goes up and up. 


Stay bullish, grow aggressively 

This is like the good old days - trying to take over a category by selling to all possible niches, and accepting that ROI will be close to zero in the process. If you have capital, there’s no downside to doing this. 


Wrapping up  

You may be in a combination of these positions right now. Maybe you’re bullish on one channel, taking a big risk that you believe in, and are staying conservative in the rest. Maybe you’ve cut out all spend except for a couple things that are reliably driving growth.  


In any case, the boat that we’re all in is that leadership teams want marketers to demonstrate that their work is driving returns. And they want us to budget more cautiously than before. On the flip side, companies are still trying to grow, and it’s marketing’s job to make that happen. And any work you do that drives opps for sales, or a new customer for the business, is still good. Even if it feels risky to advocate for budget, if what you’re doing is resulting in customers that stick with the business for multiple years, it should be worth it. 

Hope you are having a productive week.

- Dave

PS. Are you reading? Reply back and let me know, I love getting replies...


🎧 Podcast #100: Dave and Friends (feat. Kaylee Edmondson, Lashay Lewis, Tas Bober, Tim Davidson)


Dave is joined by a crew of B2B marketers to celebrate the 100th episode of the Exit Five podcast: Kaylee Edmondson, Lashay Lewis, Tas Bober, and Tim Davidson.


Listen To The Episode Now on Spotify

Or find it everywhere you listen by searching "Exit Five" podcast

You'll also find episode 101 out this week with Anthony Pierri on positioning and website strategy.

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Thanks to the 2023 Exit Five presenting sponsors Demandwell (SEO) and Zapier (Automation).


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