In a b-to-b marketing career spanning 26 years, Mike Wien has headed up efforts for companies including Pepsi Bottling Group Inc., where he was director of brand management, and Omni Hotels, where he was VP of marketing and sales.
Today, as national director-marketing for e-business services at Deloitte & Touche L.L.P., he faces what is perhaps his greatest challenge yet—convincing spending-averse clients that they should fork over millions of dollars for the New York-based firm’s advice rather than going to one of its Big 5 competitors.
Wien’s marketing task is staggering. Deloitte & Touche offers a breadth of services unusual among professional services firms. The 30,000-person division of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu advises on everything from customer relationship management to the cross-border tax considerations of implementing e-business platforms.
The wide range of services helps in retaining clients over the long haul—something the firm is known for—but makes presenting a clear-cut marketing case difficult.
Before joining Deloitte & Touche in 1996, Wien worked as senior VP-marketing at Cole Taylor Financial Group. He’s also a keen marathoner. He’s run 10 of them and finished the 1979 Dallas Marathon in an elite time of 2 hours and 48 minutes.
BtoB: Deloitte is facing a slowdown in consulting engagements. What are you doing to push its brand?
Wien: Well, Deloitte’s clients tend to be the larger, multinational companies, and the opportunities that the Internet is creating as we move toward a networked economy are significant.
The important thing to remember is that an environment like this is one of the greatest opportunities to build brand identity. If you take a look at the size of e-business publications, when you have a publication that goes from 700-plus pages to 200 pages, you all of a sudden have a lot more visibility.
This is an opportunity for the stronger brands to get a lot stronger and to take advantage of some of the disruption that’s happening in the marketplace, and to spend dollars efficiently.
So, during the turndown, I think the opportunities to gain efficiencies and the sense of urgency that many of our clients are facing to gain those efficiencies are continuing to drive significant opportunities for us. It’s a matter of making sure that the market out there understands the value that we can provide and reaching the right people.
BtoB: What keeps you awake at night?
Wien: What keeps me awake at night is that in this business, things are changing at such a rapid pace. The opportunities out there—certainly with what’s happening with connectivity and the way that companies do business—it’s changing the whole business model.
If our challenge is to help our clients understand the implications of these changes and take advantage of these changes, we have to change just as rapidly and stay current.
BtoB: What is Deloitte’s biggest marketing challenge?
Wien: I think Deloitte’s biggest marketing challenge is that we are continually reinventing ourselves. We are traditionally thought of as an accounting and auditing firm. Yet, our practice has changed dramatically as we have evolved to help our clients.
And so, all of a sudden, we’re evolving into a multidimensional organization, integrating services and addressing the full business needs of our clients.
BtoB: Are b-to-b companies that have axed their marketing budgets damaging their brands for when a recovery comes?
Wien: First of all, marketing seems to be the easiest thing to cut back on when you have a downturn. I think that the biggest challenge is to effectively spend the dollars that you have to really maximize that spending, because in a downturn, when everyone’s cutting back, you have reduced clutter and a better possibility to really be visible and break through and get your message across.
BtoB: What have you learned about marketing during an economic slowdown?
Wien: I’ve learned that it’s an opportunity—it’s a significant opportunity to push your brand forward. It’s a matter of efficiency. It’s a matter of really honing down on what marketing tools you use and to use the most effective one. But in an environment where your voice is going to be heard much louder, it’s more important that you come up with a very targeted message and continue to push the brand with the funds that you have.