CMO Coffee Talk ‘Aha! Moment’: Will the COVID Marketing ‘Budget Bump’ Stay?

3 minutes
Mar 15, 2022
Digital Marketing

Editor's Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz...

Editor’s Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing co-hosts these dynamic, illuminating conversations with 6sense CMO Latané Conant. 


Budgets are shrinking, COVID took them away and they’re not coming back, CFOs expect to spend less on marketing and more on sales, oh, and also there are giant mice living on the moon, they’ve eaten all the cheese there, and now they’re planning to invade Earth because they’re really hungry.

None of the above is true. Some of it, surprisingly so. 

At last Friday’s CMO Coffee Talk, Charlene Chen and Dustin Zaloom from Insight Partners shared some fascinating data highlighting just how much more many B2B organizations spent on marketing during the COVID pandemic versus pre-pandemic times. 

Surprised to hear that? Well, the data doesn’t lie. 

Although much of the detailed analysis and data from their benchmark survey is available to Insight Partners portfolio companies only, we were able to get a peek under the hood Friday on a few of the specifics. You can read more of the report’s highlights here.

Why Companies Spent MORE On Marketing During COVID 

According to Insight’s report, three key reasons drove the marketing “budget bump” (for each dollar of new business ARR closed) during COVID: 

  • Slowdowns in buying, reduced new business ARR 
  • The loss of in-person events as a key marketing channel 
  • Initial cutbacks in demand-gen spend, while people spend stayed steady 

In other words, many of the natural conditions that drove revenue pre-COVID were disrupted, and marketing teams were asked to get creative and find new ways to make up the difference. 

The published report focuses primarily on a top-down analysis, assessing changes in marketing spend as a function of new business targets.

Which Marketing Channels Worked During COVID? 

The “sneak peek” of the more detailed data, from a bottom’s-up perspective, illuminated a few channels and tactics that are working (and a few that are definitely still works in progress). 

A few highlighted insights from the report: 

  • “Table stakes” programs (such as paid digital, direct, and organic traffic) are still generating the majority of marketing-attributed sales pipeline 
  • Partner programs appear to have a higher impact on companies selling into enterprise (six-figure plus) deals 
  • Targeted outbound campaigns are particularly effective with high average selling price (ASP) products 

How much of that accelerated spending will “stick” with COVID finally (knock on wood) in retreat? And with some of the “old school” channels such as in-person events making a comeback, how will the marketing mix shift as well? 

Well, we’ll need more coffee to figure that out. 

Coming Up on CMO Coffee Talk… 

In our next CMO Coffee Talk meet-up (which is just around the corner!), we’re talking about the CMO’s role in managing product strategy.

How can the marketing leader’s insights on the addressable market drive product roadmap? How has the emergence of product-led growth (PLG) changed the working relationship between product and marketing? And who should own the product marketing function, anyway? Don’t miss this one! 

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