Wednesday, December 26, 2007

B2B Marketers Standing Pat on '08 Spending Risk Falling Behind

Most forecasters are rather pessimistic in their projections for the US ecomomy in the upcoming year. Business to business marketers are either not getting the message or are getting through to their bosses that in down economic times, MORE money should be devoted to marketing not less.

B2B's 2008 Marketing Priorities and Plans show nearly 80 percent of marketers planning to up online spending with slightly more than 60 percent planning to increase overall marketing budgets. Overall online marketing will make up a full third of the budget up from 26.5 percent in 2007. Leading the way in budget items seeing increases will be web site development, email and search engine marketing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

From Green to Red White and Blue

I was struck by a story this past weekend in the online version of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette announcing that the last Santa suit manufacturer in that area was going out of business. As a matter of fact, the company was one of the last sectors of the apparel industry left in the United States. While one of the hottest trends in the meetings business, and for that matter any industry, is going green, the environmental-friendly movement may soon take a back seat to the colors red, white and blue.

The cover story in this month's Marketing News, the official publication of the American Marketing Association, talks about how consumers are alarmed about the products they are purchasing given all the product recalls and safety concerns (i.e., lead paint in toys made in China). The story goes on to say they want to buy products they can rely on, and prefer them to be made closer to home. A late-summer Gallup survey found that 72 percent of Americans say they now pay more attention to which country produces the products they buy.

While a few American-made dominant companies are sited in the story (Little Tikes and American Joe Apparel), the author says those groups are in the minority. China is now our second largest trade partner, closing in on Mexico. So, companies and organizations which want to be on the leading edge of meeting a growing consumer need should pay heed.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Partnering with Car Makers

Several items crossing my desk in the past few weeks related to the auto industry if you are considering partnerships:
  • Overall online automotive advertising will grow 27.5 percent over the next four years to $5.3 billion according to the Princeton research organization Kelsey Group;
  • New demographic information from Scarborough Research shows who owns hybrid vehicles. The profile includes people who earn $100,000 or more (more than twice the national average) and are also more than twice as likely to have a college degree. Twenty seven percent even have post-graduate degrees. Nearly three in four are either Democrats or Independents and most vote in elections;
  • J.D. Power is out with its 2007 Customer Retention Study. Toyota leads the list at 64 percent versus an industry average of 49 percent;
  • And talk about driving diversity, Malaysian car maker Proton is partnering with the Iranian and Turkish governments to produce an "Islamic car" globally. Features would include a compass to determine the direction of Mecca for prayers and compartments for storing The Quran and headscarves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Career Talk: It must be that time of year again

Without fail, this is the time of the year you see articles about what employees can do to differentiate themselves in the workplace. I surmise it has something to do with professionals evaluating their careers as another year ends and a new one begins. I find it rather humorous that while the articles use different words they essentially say the same thing.

For instance, last week I read in a popular trade publication for meeting planners that communication skills are important in that line of work

In another excellent magazine that caters to marketing and sales professionals the words cooperation and goodwill, savvy and sociability were used in a study by a non-profit organization providing assessment in education and workforce development. They were labeled 15 Personal Skills You Need on the Job.

Back to the first article, flexibility is another characteristic valued. The second article..savvy and sociability.

Ping, working with numbers. Pong, carefulness, order.

Finally, leveraging partnerships as opposed to influence.

These are all good characteristics to develop as we enter 2008.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Engaging/Disengaging Customers

I recently ran across two very divergent strategies in enhancing customer (member) experiences. First the positive story. The YMCA is test-piloting an effort in 30 cities across the United States entitled YMCA Activate America. As a fitness center instructor at my local Y a few hours per week, I attended a training session the other night explaining the program which is meant to engage health seekers and to reinforce the Y's desire to be a relationship-based membership organization.

The idea is to make customers/members feel welcomed, listened to, respected and involved. It's a great concept because it really involves becoming a counselor in understanding health seeker's obstacles (perceived and actual) in getting fit. It also encourages members to seek out alternative cardio vascular fitness programs that many fail to realize exist.

A less flattering customer relations effort was recently launched by Walmart where it pulled all customer service numbers from its Web site in an effort to cut back on inbound calls tracking orders. This notion is obviously very short-sighted given that when you reach a live person on the other line, you feel valued, versus pushing buttons to respond to an automated system. This also short-circuits the opportunity to cross-sell customers having a tendency toward repeat purchases.