Marketers discuss the shift to digital tactics at ‘BtoB’s’ NetMarketing Breakfast in Chicago

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Chicago—Marketers speaking at BtoB’s NetMarketing Breakfast held Wednesday here said they are diving into digital marketing because of its lower costs and more measurable ROI than more traditional media. But they cautioned that many customers and prospects are not fully embracing digital communications.

“Not every business or consumer is prepared for the electronic environment,” said Leo Garneau, one of the panelists at the breakfast and chief branding officer of PayFlex Systems USA. “There’s a level of trust that hasn’t been reached. Will we force it into the channel? Absolutely—everybody is doing that, but there’s resistance there.”

“To build on that, the question isn’t really how fast do you go to digital,” added Tim Whiting, director of integrated marketing communications at Motorola Inc. “It’s how your customers engage with you. I think there’s a risk, as marketers, that we’re rushing to efficient [digital] marketing without really accounting for customers. You have to be thoughtful as marketers about where our customers are going, not where we think they should.”

Whiting, however, said that digital marketing does allow more personalization to create a one-on-one dialogue with consumers. By segmenting and targeting its customers based on their website behavior, Whiting said Motorola can adjust its message to speak more directly to customers.

“Even so-called traditional media are moving towards targeting,” Whiting said. “I was talking to an ad agency and they were saying, ‘How do you target? How do you personalize it?’ There’s definitely a shift from raw to targeted even in the offline world.”

Linda McGovern, director of marketing at USG Corp., described the launch of a new drywall product in the building materials industry, which continues its economic struggles. McGovern showed how USG listened to its customer base, which wanted a lighter-weight drywall product.

The company introduced a product that was 25 pounds lighter and largely used digital media, including ads on Hanley Wood sites aimed at the construction industry, online video and e-mails and texts sent by salespeople.

The product was introduced in late July, and it has already sold 40 million sq. ft., far surpassing the sales estimate of 22 million sq. ft. for all of 2010, McGovern said.

Maureen Moore, VP-corporate marketing and communications at Fellowes Inc., described how her company used a combination of digital and traditional media to launch its 100% Jam Proof Shredder line. The product and the marketing behind it were effective enough for retail distributors such as Office Depot and Costco to heavily promote the line. Moore also noted that the online content Fellowes created to promote the product still resides online and is still generating hits.

Garneau focused his remarks on customercentric marketing as a part of the company’s reinvention in the midst of changing health care regulations. The company’s “surround sound” strategy incorporated multiple media channels to get the message out to its customers.

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