This and other marketing recommendations were offered Wednesday by a panel of marketers and analysts at B-to-B Outlook 2009, an annual marketing breakfast conference presented by the Business Marketing Association of New York City and cosponsored by BPA Worldwide and BtoB.
“There’s a lot of good news out there, in particular in the b-to-b world,” said Bob Felsenthal, BtoB publisher and conference moderator. “Our research indicates that 31% of b-to-b marketers plan to boost their marketing budgets this year, with 62% citing customer acquisition as their primary goal.”
Panelist Geoff Ramsey, co-founder and CEO of market research company eMarketer, said: “It’s tough out there, but we have to use the other half of our brain to focus on opportunities. You have to come out fighting. Test, test, test—and try new stuff.”
Rob Goulding, head of b-to-b markets for Google, offered an in-depth analysis of Super Bowl spots that aired during Sunday’s championship game. He said the most successful were multichannel-oriented, driving viewers to Web sites and “focusing on conversion as never before.”
Goulding cited in particular H&R Block’s integration of its Super Bowl ad with complementary Facebook, YouTube and Twitter marketing efforts. Web domain name registrar GoDaddy experienced significant Web traffic and a strong “hangover” effect of viewer interest in the days that followed due to a provocative “teaser” ad pointing to the Web, Goulding said.
“All advertisers have some marketing event that is a Super Bowl equivalent,” he said.
As for marketing to small businesses, panelist Marcy Shinder, American Express OPEN’s VP-business strategy and marketing, urged marketers to offer both solutions and emotional connectedness to small-business owners, who, she said, often feel misunderstood by suppliers.
“These times are perhaps the most exciting for marketers, because it is getting us back to the art of marketing that creates emotional connections with brands,” Shinder said. “It’s how marketing really pulls the business.”
Shinder said this could best be accomplished by “taking off the corporate mask” and embracing such social media as customer forums and blogs.
Online advertising remains the fastest-growing channel for b-to-b marketers, although its growth rate has moderated to between 3% and 10% for 2009, compared with robust double-digit growth in past years, Ramsey said.
Optimistic to the end, Ramsey added, “But flat is the new up.”