Brand investments likely to tighten in 2002

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(Fifth in a series of executive outlooks)

B-to-b marketers have increasingly demanded results from advertising and marketing campaigns, but in 2002 the emphasis on justification will be even greater, says Cathey Finlon, chairman-CEO at McClain Finlon, Denver, whose clients include Sun Microsystems Inc., Johns Manville, Qwest Dex and energy company Xcel. While brand marketing will still be important, the focus will move toward point of sale, and marketers will need to develop even more precise metrics to measure the impact of ad campaigns on actual sales, she told BtoB.

BtoB: What are some of the top marketing trends in 2002?

Finlon: In business-to-business, brand investment will continue to be important and valuable for clients, but there may be some tightening up. As tightening is made around traditional brand investment like traditional brand advertising, it will become even more important for the brand to be embedded in less traditional advertising or communications such as direct, one-to-one, Web, events and public relations.

The brand and experience of the brand will now be very seriously placed in integrated communications. The real focus will be on maximizing brand value as it's teed up to prospective customers through many different communications channels.

BtoB: How will brand value be measured?

Finlon: One way of measuring it is actually driving communications to the point of sale. You will have to measure the sale. There will be intensity around making sure the brand is actualized in the sale. The language will be much more around ROI. If I put $1 into one-to-one, it's in Web, direct and special events. Out of every $1 I put in, I want $3 returned.

BtoB: What strategies can marketers use in this environment?

Finlon: A tightened economy requires that all communications get closer to the point of sale. Even though in b-to-b communications we have many, many steps to get to the point of sale, the focus on moving from connecting with the prospect to point of sale will be very tight. Companies need to be certain that as they tighten up, they do not lose communications approaches that align with the sale--direct, sales collateral, solutions selling and one-to-one.

One of the things companies should not be doing is devaluing their product through deep discounting. That happened in the ‘80s, when people moved more toward promotional selling. That just gets you into price wars.

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