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Archive for November, 2008

Aquent and AMA Release New Marketing Compensation Calculator

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

This summer the American Marketing Association and Aquent launched a series of conversations about the marketing profession. We encourage you to check out these valuable marketing tools and resources, including: the compensation calculator and the first installment of the Insight-Series.  The Insight Report demonstrates the key findings distilled from the survey, including a stark alignment between seniority and satisfaction.

Aquent Salary Calculator

Try the Quick Salary Calculator (opens new window)

Download the Insight Report (pdf format)

AMA Boston Hosts Regional AMA Leadership Retreat

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

As president of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association, it was my pleasure to welcome representatives from several other chapters from the Northeastern Region.  Our guests included representatives from the New York Capital Region Chapter,  the Rochester New York Chapter, the New Jersey Chapter and the Hartford Connecticut Chapter.

On Friday evening, Amy Quigley, Maryanne Spillane McInturf, Keith Laferrier and Jim Gallant, members of the Board of Directors from the Boston Chapter, entertained our guests over dinner at the Tavern on the Water in Charlestown.

Tavern on the water, Charlestown, MA

On Saturday, we met at the Constitution Inn in Charlestown for an all day conference with work sessions guided by special guests, Michele DeKinder-Smith from Tampa, Florida and Karen Stone from Nashville, Tennessee. Both Michele and Karten are successful past presidents of their local chapters and accomplished leaders of the Professional Chapters Council, for the American Marketing Association.

The purpose of  the leadership retreat was to bring several chapter leaders together from around the regionso we could support each other and exchange ideas. It was good to see old friends and to participate in such a productive meeting.

Leadership Retreat Attendees

It’s a Buyer’s Market

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Today, the news raised the threat of deflation. While this is especially troubling to the cyclical and seasonal businesses, they have many options to counter the downturn including seeking bailouts. Smaller firms must look to other means to protect themselves. A natural reaction is to protect the home turf and marketing can be a powerful tool to accomplish that. While customers have been assaulted with a barrage of negative news and an outlook that it will continue at least through 2009, all businesses need is to look for ways to separate from the malaise.

Defense Wins Games

Protecting the business revenue is a primary goal in an economic downturn. However, not all revenue is equal – some revenue comes with so much expense, it’s almost not worth earning. Knowing the factors that make up great revenue helps to decide which activity to invest in – and market for new customers.

Marketing isn’t limited to reaching out to new customers. It should also consider the choices that the current customer base made at their point-of-purchase. Marketing can give current clients a sense that they’ve done something right, hopefully to the point that they’ll keep doing it again and drive more business.

Gathering information on customer sentiment and satisfaction is usually best accomplished through a market research firm. Many belong to the Marketing Research Association.

Results of market research can be leveraged into action items for current customers to improve satisfaction, but also to expand the relationships into new areas. Sometimes, new areas of growth can arise from marketing into existing customers for new products and services and is usually an easier prospect.

Growing Through a Downturn

The results of the market research can help determine the list of factors that the best customers have in common. These are the “sweet spot” factors for current customers and should form the baseline for any new customers.

In a tough market, new customers need to feel that they are making a smart choice when each decision may be scrutinized later. Successful firms take control of the messages to the market to ease the decision of the buyer. One way of doing this is to separate the business from the negativity in consumer sentiment by increasing demonstrations of financial strength and growth.

A few good examples are:

  1. Announcing new wins to the customers in some manner. Showing success regardless of the economy turmoil in providing services that are important now is important to both new customers, but also for existing customers. It shows the business has stayed relevant and forward-thinking. The important thing is that the customer receives the knowledge of the new member to the family, the delivery mechanism must work for both types of customers and may take the form of email, printed newsletters, lunch with sales, a roadside bulletin board, or all of the above.
  2. Actively introducing new products or services increases the “buzz” and may slide into a viral marketing situation. Some media outlets are looking for positive news to counter the negative news. One method is to offer limited-time trials or samples to buzz-makers. A public relations firm can help manage the message, especially in advance of holiday shopping, even if the product isn’t seasonal as this recent launch of the new Blackberry.
  3. Publishing a case study of a customer highlighting the factors referenced above adds credibility and practicality to the messaging, such as this study by Akamai measuring the ROI.
  4. Starting a loyalty program can also galvanize best customers against competitor products, especially the types of competition that isn’t obvious, i.e. energy drinks vs. coffee. Starbucks recently introduced the Gold Card.

These programs should accomplish two things: they can remind customers why they made the original choice and create buzz for new customers of the products and services The over-arching objective is to capture the best customers while looking for “like-best” new customers.

What new ideas do you have to manage your message to the market?

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Kevin Flavin has almost 20 years experience in the financial services industry. Balancing the first half of his career as a buyer, he has spent the last ten years as a vendor in a range of roles from sales, product management, but always marketing. He is based in the Boston area. He is also a monthly contributor for the AMA Boston blog.

So…Looks Like We Are In a Recession. Never Fear Marketers Are Here!

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Last week’s article Recession Nation: 49 States at Risk pointed out that every state in the country with the exception of oil rich Alaska is either in or at risk of being in a recession.  Working for a marketing services organization, I automatically hear from customers and prospects that their budgets are being slashed.  It’s a common trend I’ve experienced during my 15 years in marketing.  Yet, each and every time I see a recession as an opportunity.  Are marketing people delusional in feeling this way? Are we eternal optimists?  I don’t think so!    No matter what happens in the economy, let’s not forget our customers!  How do we help them if they are in situations where their budgets have been cut?  What do we do within our own organizations when management puts the pressure on us to reduce budgets?  We do what we do best – get creative! 

With all the latest cost-effective on-line technologies, even the smallest budgets can be used for successful marketing campaigns that yield opportunities for revenue.  Here are three cost-effective ways to leverage both traditional and on-line marketing without putting a strain on marketing budgets.

Keep going with email marketing
Despite the challenges marketers face with email marketing, whether deliverability or CAN SPAM compliance, the fact is – email marketing works!  82 percent of the marketers surveyed by Datran Media indicated that they planned to increase their use of email marketing this year.  There are numerous statistics all over the web about how you can use this cost-effective medium to generate leads and up-sell your products and services to existing customers.  The key is to find an ESP (email service provider) that does all the leg work of ensuring that your emails make it to your prospects and customers.  All you need to worry about is your message and call to action. You can send emails for pennies compared to traditional marketing efforts.  Most of you are already doing it.  Those that aren’t, what in the world are you waiting for!

Make your direct mail campaigns work harder by incorporating PURL technology
PURLs or personalized URLs are a fairly new application that automatically generates a separate URL for each person you’re targeting.  The technology works by creating a personalized web page for each direct mail recipient (e.g. www. AnnaBarcelos.CompanyName.com) that is printed on the direct mail piece.  A DMA study a couple years ago indicated that 42% of direct mail recipients prefer to respond on-line.  Capture these recipients by directing them to special pages that contain offers or collect information to help convert them to paying customers.  PURL technology is cost-effective at pennies per recipient, fully trackable and can double response rates.  I don’t know about you, but I recycle most of the direct mail I receive.  Bet I wouldn’t throw one out if it had a PURL on it.  Wouldn’t you be curious to see what awaits you on a web page created just for you?

What about the good ole fashioned telephone?
It costs 8 to 10 times less to generate revenue from existing customers than obtain new ones.  So why do companies still spend countless amounts of money trying to get new customers when there are plenty of existing ones that they can up-sell products and services to?  Take a look at your existing customer base and their current purchases.  I’m sure there are up-selling opportunities, but you won’t know until you pick up the phone and talk to them.  So simple, yet we don’t do it often enough.

These are just three ways to add more muscle to limited marketing budgets.  As marketers, we are smart, creative people.  Let’s use that ability more than ever during these trying times.

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Anna Barcelos has over 14 years of B2B and B2C broad-based marketing experience, both traditional and on-line. She is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for BLI Messaging, a Providence, RI-based email, voice, survey, SMS and fax technologies company.  Anna is currently a member of AMA, MarketingProfs, and SOCAP. She is also a monthly AMA Boston blog contributor.

The Holidays Are Great Opportunities For Reaching Out to Customers

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

“The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat.’ Use it to flag down readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.  On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” - David Ogilvy

Halloween and the U.S. Election have passed, it’s time to start thinking about the burst of activity surrounding the holidays. For those in the U.S., it begins now. I was perusing the 75% off display at a local retailer of left-over Halloween decorations and fall harvest motifs when I noticed that the Christmas trees were already on display. I realized that as more and more retailers bend to the will of seasonal shopping instead of being consistent providers of general goods, consumers look to other avenues to find what they need. Unfortunately for me, the mop bucket was not to be found at this store. Apparently, I’m not the type of customer this retail outlet is catering to, the new displays were telling me that.

Whether you’re preparing for that shopping extravanganza that occurs every fall through January or just preparing for next year’s activity, your mind must be focused on your customers and what level of sales you can expect. I know in my industry, the financial services firms are taking a beating, both in the markets and in the press. While this is worrisome the inclination to “hunker down” may be too powerful to resist. The more aggressive competitors see this as an opportunity like no other; this is a time to take market share, build a better brand, and introduce new products and services while the weakest industry players cut back.

Make an assessment of your messaging methods and look for improvements
While most of the world is focusing on the issues and problems of the economy, get your message in front of them, too. Your customers are plugged into their favorite news outlet, and are more receptive to hearing what you have to say - take advantage of the heightened awareness of the new President, faltering economy, and international response to the U.S. elections. Put yourself in their minds and look back at your company’s marketing messages. You may find that your message is off the mark, or worse, there isn’t enough to see.

Traditional Methods Still Work…
It doesn’t take more than a moment to realize that anything that can be purchased can be Googled. As time passes, more and more of your customers are doing the same thing to find you - what does your website and press releases say to them? It’s time to review and update your message to reflect the new economy.

For many years, the Direct Mail/Direct Marketing approach was arguably the best method. With the introduction of email, the cost and timeliness of your DM efforts have improved. However, many companies are simply applying the same concepts to the new platform, not adjusting to the platform. Many firms start with a strategy of creating an email campaign, maybe even a corporate blog, but few are consistent and thorough in utilizing the strategy to its fullest. Many corporate blogs start to wither and die from inactivity. Think about what a stale corporate blog says to your customers. Stick with the strategies long enough to see if they work; if they don’t, kill them quickly.

New Methods for New Customers
It’s natural to think about your current customers, but what about your next customers? Have you reviewed your messages to them? Do they need updating? Are you moving into new areas, both product and service, as well as geographical?

As email and websites have changed your marketing, you need to continuously look for the next movement. Twitter comes to mind as the potential next wave. It’s hard to believe, but Twitter is just two years old! At first glance, it can appear as a toy for the Web 2.0 generation. On the other hand, if Twitter is applied in the appropriate manner, it can be a powerful tool to reach out to new, younger customers, build brand awareness, capture ideas, and even open new opportunities. Try your company in these measurement tools designed just for Twitter: Twist and Tweetlater. There are thousands of tools available to make your messages heard.

What does the “ticket” say on your company?

1. Is your message on target for what your company does?

2. Is it reaching your customers; are you leveraging enough outlets to reach them?

3. Are you doing enough to attract new potential customers; do they see your value to them?

Tell us what you’ve done differently using old tools or new tools to manage your message to your customers?

To leave a comment, please double-click on title.

Kevin Flavin has almost 20 years experience in the financial services industry. Balancing the first half of his career as a buyer, he has spent the last ten years as a vendor in a range of roles from sales, product management, but always marketing. He is based in the Boston area. He is also a monthly AMA Boston contributor.
 

The Holidays Can be a Great Time for B2B Email Marketing

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

With the holidays fast approaching, those of us in B2B marketing are probably wondering what kinds of email messages to send to our customers. We are not, after all selling a product that is going to make an appropriate gift, so there is little need for holiday promotions—indeed, they would seem a bit odd for a company selling data center services or enterprise software.

Chris Marriott at iMedia Connection suggests that B2B marketers maintain their visibility during the end of the year with engagement-heavy messages. He suggests sending surveys as one idea that will help your company gain awareness as inboxes get crowded with seasonal offers. The question of appropriate B2B email campaigns for the holiday season is also addressed in a blog post by Mark Brownlow at Email Marketing Reports. Quoting Linda Bustos, the post urges B2B marketers not to cut back on their standard messaging schedule at this time of year. Instead, marketers should keep their frequency the same, but change their message to a more lighthearted, less information-filled content model. Bustos suggests sending a Season’s Greetings message, as well as a lighter-on-content version of one’s usual newsletter.

End-of-year satisfaction surveys and seasonal messages are all great ways to round out your email program as 2008 closes. Nonetheless, I’d suggest looking at your audience and overall messaging strategy before cutting back on substantive content. Winter is a traditional time to regroup, think, and plan. If you’re in the technology space, your messaging likely includes a lot of educational content. Throughout the year, you produce white papers, podcasts, application notes, and other documents that your audience turns to in order to be well-informed. If they are technical staff, keeping up-to-date on new developments is important to them, but they often lack the time. When they are crazy-busy, your audience may only glance through all the technical documents you offer. Many of us take advantage of the slower time of year to do a lot of the reading we simply don’t have time for when business is hectic.

The quieter B2B environment during the holidays may provide just the opportunity for your audience to sit down and actually digest some of your more substantial reading. This may be the perfect chance for you to send out that longer white paper—now, when your audience might actually read it while sitting at their desks, instead of putting it away for later. There are fewer interruptions at the office over the holidays, and not everyone is partying 24-7. Test out at least one mailing this holiday season that contains an offer for a white paper or other educational document. In your email message, emphasize the key points in the document, and home in on the benefits of the topic. Underline how much can be learned from the white paper—if your readers are in the mood to expand their knowledge, they’ll respondyour message will stand out.

Although, for your audience, it might be best to keep most of your emails light over the holiday season, bear in mind that you might have an opportunity to reach out with great content that could be lost in the shuffle at a busier time of year.     
 

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Christina Inge is the marketing manager for Spinwave Systems, a Westford-based tech company specializing in energy management solutions. She also serves as marketing and public relations coordinator for the New England Quilt Museum. She has over ten years’ experience in communications for both B2C and B2B audiences.

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The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.