June 7-10, 2009  |  Colorado Springs, Colorado
Published: June 10, 2009
Clients reveal their marketing wish lists

Are your digital solutions on par with the needs of big players in entertainment, CPG, healthcare, financial, and others? Find out what it takes to deliver the goods to your marketing partners.

You do your research. You take meetings. You fill out RFPs and submit elaborate proposals. You do everything in your power to make sure you are prepared to deliver the right solution to that big, important client. But unless you can sit in on their internal meetings, can you ever really know exactly what they expect an agency or vendor to provide in a digital campaign?

At the iMedia Brand Summit in Colorado Springs, marketers got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a brand conversation on what marketing partners can do to help them reach their business goals, and what makes for a great client-provider interaction that moves business forward in a positive way.
In a session led by Neil Perry, CEO of XLNT Ads, five marketers shared recommendations in categories such as services, healthcare, retail, automotive, and CPG. Each marketer in the group represented the point-of-view of five or six companies in their categories, not just their own companies. And though the categories have their own unique challenges and priorities, the group did recognize that current economic conditions have changed the game; thus, many commonalities exist among the vertical markets.

Service industries
Seth Greenberg, director of online advertising and internet media at Intuit, shared the perspective of companies in the services industry, listing their top needs as follows:

  1. Innovation to help them stay at the forefront of the industry
  2. New business models/revenue streams
  3. Providers that are dedicated to creating marketing partnerships -- in which everyone has a stake in the game and is willing to share some of the responsibilities -- not just vendor relationships

Healthcare and financial
Hilary Weber, director of internet marketing services at Kaiser Permanente, shared some information on the healthcare and financial services categories. She said that these are two of the most challenged industries right now, and will be feeling the impact for the longest. Their top suggestions reflect the need to meet these particular challenges:

  1. The need for better targeting and more flexible solutions. "As they have no time and money to waste, marketers in this category want shorter-term tests and proof of concept, so they can be more judicious with spending," Weber explained.
  2. Like service industry marketers, they want their vendors to show that they have a "skin in the game," acting as a proactive partner rather than a vendor.
  3. Vendors need to incorporate results data into campaign plans for continuous improvement over time.

Entertainment and retail
Kofi Dwinfour, senior marketing manager for digital media marketing for A&E Television Networks, represented the entertainment and retail categories. He remarked that the economy has had a different impact on his sectors, and it has affected some components much more than others. For example, he has found that TV is doing very well, though live theater isn't. Considering this, Dwinfour reported that the biggest needs in these categories are: 

  1. We need to focus on robust metrics that will "tell me why" we need a service.
  2. Integration. We need solutions on multiple platforms.
  3. As with other categories, Dwinfour recommended that vendors share the risk in order to share the reward. "We need flexibility. Show you have a stake in our success. Look at different ways we can compensate each other," he said.

Restaurants, automotive and travel
Danielle Wolfson, in charge of brand communications, online marketing at Taco Bell, represented the restaurants, automotive, and travel categories, which are all in different positions in the current marketplace. Wolfson said that while fast food was still doing well -- "People are spending, though they are downgrading their choices" -- the automotive and travel sectors are having a much harder time: "Pressure has increased. Time is very valuable -- we need to make it work," she said.

Wolfson outlined her wish list for marketers in these categories:

  1. Targeted test market media pricing. "They are looking for partners to be able to duplicate results of a local market test and do it just as cost efficiently for us," Wolfson said.
  2. Ad network site transparency. "We care about the content we are around, and we are challenged with ad networks because we never know where we are going to be, so we appreciate the disclosure you provide."
  3. Customized campaigns/cross-platform campaigns. "We want ideas specific to our brand, and we want to see that we can translate the concepts across multiple media."
  4. Offer up unique opportunities. "Let us know how we can use our unique strengths to work with you to monetize our business. Think outside the box -- it will help us differentiate ourselves from our competitors and pitch things to our upper management at the same time."

Brian Frederick, who is the senior interactive marketing director at Black & Decker, represented the CPG category. He reminded vendors that in the current economic landscape, little wins are now as important as big ones, and the CPG marketing wish list reflected this: 

  1. Case studies that are relevant to our company and our business. Your presentation should be one that lets clients know you understand their target market and seasonality. "We have to sell your ideas up to our superiors, so if it's already in a sales approach that we use, it helps us to know and to prove that our partnerships are working," Frederick said. 
  2. Find a way to improve couponing (to improve trial) by eliminating waste.
  3. Like most of the other groups, CPG wants to feel like vendors have a stake in their success or failure. "The big idea is a start, but co-investing is a must," he said.
  4. Lastly, vendors should provide mobile solutions, not just ideas.

Jodi Harris is senior editor at iMedia Connection.