A recently release Association of National Advertisers Survey identified the Top 10 things on the minds of 100 senior marketers who were asked to rank the issues that would have the greatest impact on their marketing decisions and planning for 2007.
Here's the ANA's Top 10
- Integrated Marketing
- Aligning marketing organization with innovation
- Building strong brands
- Media proliferation
- Consumer control over what and how they view advertising
- Globalization of marketing efforts
- Growth of multi-cultural consumer segments
- Advertising creative that achieves business results
- Attracting and retaining top talent
Given that this is an advertising organization, I'm sure that the 100 marketing executives are skewed towards those who do heavy advertising - and, most likely, heavy consumer advertising.
But it did get me thinking about what applies and what doesn't to those of us in the B2B (B2T business to tech or T2T - tech to tech) world, especially if our work is primarily with small companies. Here are my Top 10 marketing concerns for 2007 (in no particular order, other than that Number 1 and Number 10 are in the right positions):
- Product positioning. I don't care what year it is, figuring out the right target and the right messages for your products remain or paramount importance to small B2B's. You can't be all things to all people. Figure out what you can be to the people who matter.
- Aligning the sales organization with marketing. If the sales organization isn't fishing in the ponds that marketing has given them a map to (and, hopefully, stocked a bit), it really doesn't matter what marketing's doing. If sales isn't going where you point them, figure out the reason fast. Get aligned. Stay aligned. Or just don't bother.
- Accountability without making a fetish out of metrics. It's a lot easier to tie the success of a program when awareness-promotion-purchase have an obvious link. (Call this number! Say this magic word! Buy this now!) Those circumstances seldom hold in high ticket, complex sales where there's, at best, a bread-crumb trail from your first point of contact to the signed contract. Try to avoid "I saw it first" squabbles with sales by establishing early on just what constitutes a lead.
- Trying to get in the customer's head. Real success seldom comes from doing everything your customer asks, but it does come from figuring out exactly what products and services will give them some combination of the better-cheaper-faster that everyone lusts after. Understand what it is your customer is doing now. Improve on it.
- Make sure our products meet a real need - not a manufactured one. There's little room for Pet Rocks and other fad products in the B2B/B2T/T2T world. If your products aren't solving real problems for real people, all the marketing in the world ain't going to save you.
- Cutting through the clutter (integrated marketing). Whether you've got a gazillion dollar budget or guerrilla marketing bupkis, it's trickier to come up with the right mix of where to spend your time and budget than it was in the days when the winning combination was 2 Trade Shows + 3 Direct Mail Campaigns + monthly quarter-page B&W ad in tech journal = marketing success. Just don't forget that for some/most B2B/B2T/T2T markets, the old-fangled methods still work and still need to be part of the mix. But make sure you don't keep on doing what you've always been doing just because....
- Cutting through the clutter (media proliferation). Media proliferation can work surprisingly well for small B2B, T2T companies. The proliferation of online media means that there are likely new journals, blogs, and other forum that are content hungry.
- Product pricing. Few things are more difficult for small, boot strap companies than figuring out how to make sure the price is right. Sometimes a product that really lends itself to a lower price point ends up getting forced into "enterprise sales" mode just because of the company's cost structure. If the true value of the product makes it a natural for thousands of smaller-ticket sales vs. a few larger-ticket sales, suck it up. Figure out a way to get to those thousands of smaller folks, even if it looks like it's more costly in the short run. In the long run, you'll come out ahead.
- Keep up with SEO. Yes, the game changes perpetually, but you need to make sure that if someone's googling for what you've got they can find you on the first page. The good news: you can probably find an in-house techie who'll keep on top of what works and what doesn't for you.
- Advertising creative that's just for fun. Most of the companies I work with have an advertising budget of somewhere between zero and zero. But it's still fun to noodle around with ad concepts that speak to your key messages and are creative and interesting. Even if you have no advertising budget whatsoever, come up with a few faux ads for internal consumption. Spit them out and dry mount them at Kinko's and hang them up around the office. Good for morale - your no-budget-blues morale and the morale of everyone else. You never know. You may actually get to use them someday.
Thanks to Elaine Fogel over on Marketing Profs for tipping me off to this survey.