Senior marketers in Ireland (those that spend money) believe that 2013 is the year to watch with significant growth returning again at that time with 2012 providing a solid foundation for future expansion. The general feeling for 2011 is that while difficult, it is definitely showing signs of improvement.
The latest bi-annual Alternatives Marketing Watch Survey points to some encouraging positives in the second part of the year. Overall, business sentiment can best be described as ‘tentatively optimistic’.
Jobs and sought after skills
When it comes to marketing spend, budgets have remained pretty much in place with digital marketing becoming even more influential in the effort to engage directly with customers and build loyalty.
Meanwhile on the personnel front, headcount and marketing team numbers have remained pretty static so retaining staff is not proving an issue.
Marketing job seekers and those wishing to develop their careers in the industry will be interested to know that mid to senior level marketers with key skills in digital, in Customer Retention and Communications are currently the most sought after in 2011.
The marketers surveyed are marketing directors or heads of marketing. Typical marketing spends at their disposal range from €500k to €10 million while they have, on average, between one to ten people on their team.
1. Guarded Glimmers in 2011
Asked how their business is doing versus 6 months ago, 43% reported the same while 35% said that things were better. At the start of the year over half of respondents thought that the market would deteriorate – this has fallen back to 30% which although high, is still a double digit improvement.
2. Optimistic for 2013
Business is feeling very optimistic at the prospects for 2013 with 84% of respondents saying that they expect trading conditions in their market to improve markedly with 40% expecting a bump in performance in 2012.
3. Overall Business Perspective
According to almost 54% of those surveyed, there are few or no businesses taking risks in this current climate. However, the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong for 23% who reported taking risks in areas such as new products, new creative platforms, new markets, pricing policies etc to develop new income streams.
4. Priorities in 2011
Retaining existing customers is the key priority for marketers in 2011. That’s according to 60% of respondents while 44% felt that the need to cross sell or up sell to existing customers was important.
Bucking that trend, a firm 46% thought that acquiring new customers for existing products was essential with 33% expressing the view that developing new products for existing customers was a priority.
5. The Top 3 issues faced in achieving business objectives are:
• Economic Issues 62%
• Marketing Budget Issues 40%
• Competitive Issues 34%
6. The Marketing Team
SKILLS: The most sought after skills this year are those with Digital Marketing prowess (45%) closely followed by Loyalty and Retention skills (43%) Communications (35%), CRM & Data Analysis 18%, Research & Insight 18% and Strategy & Planning 16%.
TEAM SIZE: Currently, 60% of businesses are likely to keep the same team size with 70% reporting some re-structuring in the shape of their marketing personnel in the last year to meet the challenges of the new marketing environment. Benchmarked against the findings of the December Alternatives Marketing Watch Survey, 20% of respondents intended to increase their team size in the last 6 months -up on the 13% that expected to, while another 11% plan to increase their marketing teams in the next 6 months.
MEETING THE RESOURCE NEED: With the “heads down and let’s get on with it” approach adopted by many Irish businesses, it’s no surprise to learn that 60% of senior marketers felt that they had enough resources to implement their marketing plans. Meanwhile, 73% said that their current team would take on more workload with 32% up-skilling team members to allow them to take on the extra responsibilities.
As a result, one third feel they do not have the resource required now. 21% plan to bring in additional, experience resource on a permanent, interim or consultant basis in the next while, with 16% saying they will supplemented with new graduate / internship places.
Surprisingly, given the perception that there is a lot of great talent available in the market, 44% of respondent said YES to the question “Do You Find it Difficult to Attract Good Talent?” According to 56% of those interviewed, mid to senior level were the most difficult levels to attract.
And with jobs at a premium these days 76% of respondents said that it was not difficult to retain good talent these days.
7. Marketing Spends & the relentless influence of social media
At this mid point in the year, the encouraging news is that 53% believe that budgets will remain the same (if continuing to remain under pressure) but with the caveat from 38% of respondents saying that it is likely to decrease by the year end.
The good news for online and digital media owners is that their area tops the list of priority marketing spending for the rest of 2011
· Digital / online 60%
· TV 47%
· Radio 39%
· Print 33%
· PR 32%
Nudging ever closer to break into this Top 5 are Digital / Social Media (31%) and Sponsorship (28%).