In a challenging economy, you must find new ways to make marketing work more effectively, get more out of marketing investments, and measure and account for marketing decisions. In short, you must make changes. Doing the same things in an uncertain economic environment and expecting the same results is, at worst, a definition of marketing insanity. At best it is a flawed strategy.
How can your company be one of those success stories that market and grow their businesses during challenging economic times? The following strategies will help you allocate marketing investments to better performing programs that will carry your company through the economic downturn and beyond.
A fundamental but sometimes overlooked marketing tenet is to "fish where the fish are." In other words, invest in those specific, targeted media where you know your customers and prospects will be exposed to your message.
Research shows that virtually all engineering, technical and industrial professionals now use the internet throughout their work process. The same holds true in most B2B markets. But the internet is vast, and the fish you are looking for may be using specific websites where the content is directly related to their information needs. Work with your media partners to identify and target those sites.
While it's always the right time to purge marketing programs that don't perform, it may be time to scale back any marketing plans whose results you can't measure or are unsure about. In other words, re-allocate and "right-size" marketing budgets to measurable programs. Online programs -- which are built around delivering visibility, impressions, clicks, leads and customers -- are easy to measure.
Integrated marketing means your marketing strategy takes advantage of multiple media, resources and customer touchpoints to create a whole that's greater and more effective than the sum of its parts. The more that marketing efforts are integrated and comprehensive, the greater impact you can achieve in gaining visibility in your market, qualified leads and sales.
Maintain frequency and consistency
The benefits of regular visibility in the market tend to compound over time as more prospects recognize your company. This improves your opportunity to get on a prospect's short list of potential vendors and also shortens the sales cycle. A consistent online presence where your customers and prospects are looking for information -- including websites, directories, search engines and e-newsletters -- will help your company stay visible as well as provide measurable lead generation benefits via online contact.
Push and pull your way to success
Most marketing can be classified as either push or pull: companies push their message out through tactics such as direct mail, advertisements and e-newsletters; and they also establish a presence in online directories, websites and search engines to pull customers in real-time when prospects are searching for information, products and services like those your company offers. Rather than struggling over whether to allocate resources to push marketing or pull marketing, seek out a media partner that has your target audience captive and can offer both push and pull programs under an integrated program.
Focus on quality over quantity
If marketing efforts focus solely on quantity over quality, fewer leads will convert, more sales resources will be wasted, and sales people will begin to distrust marketing's lead generation programs. Commit to programs in which quality is a key attribute: programs that can deliver interested prospects, provide prospect contact information and offer reports of program performance.
Seek assistance from media partners
The economy is likely forcing you to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. While you may be facing challenges, you don't have to face them alone. Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions help your company achieve the strategies mentioned above.
- Do they have your target audience's attention?
- Can they keep your company visible to prospects and customers at all times?
- Do they offer a variety of integrated marketing solutions aligned with your goals?
- Can they provide both visibility and lead generation?
- Do they deliver targeted, quality leads with full contact information?
- Do they provide reports you can use to measure the performance of your marketing and justify your marketing investments?
During challenging times or when things are going well, marketers need to clarify goals and create tailored, integrated marketing solutions that complement the current media mix and extend their companies' ability to compete and win business in the market. Utilize a wide range of digital media advertising and marketing solutions. Consider keyword ads, email marketing, searchable product catalogs, banner ad networks and industry-leading e-newsletter advertisements. Figure out the right combination and you will deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience and integrate with your traditional marketing efforts.
Guy Maser is senior vice president of marketing for GlobalSpec.