Internet marketing is to get a major boost in the West Midlands, with businesses planning the biggest rise in spending of all the regions outside London.
West Midlands firms are planning an above average increase in their marketing expenditure over the next year at five per cent, compared to a UK average of 4.6 per cent.
The latest Marketing Trends Survey from The Chartered Institute of Marketing has found that the marketing industry as a whole remains in a bullish mood.
The survey, which questioned around 500 senior marketing professionals on their business and its prospects for the future, has found that marketers are planning to spend substantially more this year.
Spending on Internet/intranet marketing is expected to see the biggest growth both nationally and in the West Midlands.
The region is planning a rise of 8.9 per cent, the highest of any region outside London, against a bational average increase of with 7.2 per cent.
The West Midlands is also predicting a seven per cent increase in telephone marketing spend (against a UK average of 2.7 per cent), a 7.1 per cent increase in lead generation (4.8 per cent nationally) and 6.1 per cent increase in information systems (4.8 per cent nationally).
Christine Boswell-Munday, pictured left, director of the Chartered Institute of Marketing West Midlands Region and a hands-on marketing practitioner, said: "This survey proves that West Midlands marketers are making the most of technology to increase sales and reflects the up-beat mood of a region that rises to the business challenge, using the latest marketing techniques."
Overall, UK sales are expected to increase by a significant 8.9 per cent (8.6 per cent in the West Midlands), strengthening slightly since the summer, and rising from a UK low of under five per cent increase in 2001.
This optimism is widespread, with some industries, including electronics, business and property services, and wholesale distributors expecting sales increases of over ten per cent over last year.
Confidence that sales plans will be achieved in the West Midlands is higher than average at 65 per cent against a UK average of 54 per cent, but has dipped slightly since the last survey, but remains above its historic average.
Inflationary pressures are increasing, no doubt in response to rising energy and fuel costs and to slightly higher labour cost inflation.
On average, those taking part in the survey in the UK expect to raise their prices by
2.2 per cent (although just two per cent in the West Midlands), up from 1.6 per cent in the summer.
According to Douglas McWilliams, economic adviser to The Chartered Institute of Marketing and chief executive of the centre for economics and business research, the survey results support the widely accepted view that the expected slowdown will represent a change of gear rather than recession.
"An important indicator of the continued confidence that there will not be a recession is the relatively high - by historic standards - forecast for growth in marketing spend," said Mr McWilliams.
"Taking all the signals together, the survey points to steady, rather than booming, economic growth, but on the back of the strong upswing that has continued now since 2003, the fact that even now recession is not expected is encouraging.