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Roundtable: Interaction key when delivering message

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OUTLOOK 2007
Marketers' influence grows even as customers demand more control of the message
Online Advertising continues phenomenal climb
Budgeting for 2007
Marketing Plans and Priorities for 2007
Marketer Roundtable
 
Driving profitable growth, reaching segmented audiences and building value with customers are common goals of b-to-b marketers in 2007. However, how they will deliver on these objectives varies depending on the industry and the company.

To find out how top marketers plan to achieve their marketing priorities in 2007 and what tools they will use, BtoB convened a virtual roundtable of five b-to-b marketers in different industries. Panelists in the discussion were: Scott Anderson, director of enterprise brand communications at Hewlett-Packard Co.; Wendy Clark, VP-advertising at AT&T; Manning Field, senior VP-card services, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Patti Temple Rocks, VP-global communications and reputation at Dow Chemical Co.; and Ingrid Van Den Hoogen, senior VP-brand, global communications and integrated marketing at Sun Microsystems.

BtoB: What are your marketing priorities for 2007?

Anderson: For HP's Technology Solutions Group, our marketing priorities are to leverage our portfolio of products and services to drive profitable growth and deliver superior customer value into b-to-b enterprise and mid-markets.

Clark: Marketing plans call for continued momentum in driving profitable growth within strategic business segments through 2007.

Field: Our priorities are to increase the productivity of our acquisitions efforts, grow the engagement we have with our existing customers and support the brand by improving our relevance and communication.

Temple Rocks: Continued emphasis on communicating our corporate brand attributes to our target audiences in a way that will help us to achieve our vision to become the largest, most profitable and most respected chemical company in the world.

Van Den Hoogen: For 2007, Sun is focusing our marketing efforts on several initiatives, including continuing to grow our market share in servers, storage and software, such as the Solaris operating system; increasing participation in the developer community; elevating our eco responsibility efforts; and reaching and targeting new customers, specifically those at new startup companies.

BtoB: Will you be making any budget shifts among media, and if so, where?

Anderson: We made a fairly significant shift from traditional broadcast and print to online and interactive last year in order to map to the evolution [to online]. Just to cite a few examples: Tens of thousands of customers flock to join us when we launch new products and services exclusively via Web events; traffic to enterprise TV, our online streaming video application, continues to grow exponentially and, most important, can efficiently convert the interactions into qualified leads for delivery to our sales force.

Temple Rocks: We anticipate shifting our media emphasis slightly, with a greater emphasis on online as our target audience is looking for more information and content from us.

Clark: Our business media plans continue to evolve with the media habits of our b-to-b target. We continue to believe in a balanced mix of targeted media versus heavy preference to any one medium.

Van Den Hoogen: Our media strategy for [2007] is to reach our key audiences through a variety of online activities, including promotions at our sun.com e-store; increasing our e-marketing activities; and ensuring all online placements drive actions?for example, online Solaris ads drive Solaris downloads. We also continue to take advantage of print, OOH [out of home] and other media opportunities as they present themselves.

BtoB: Which online marketing tools will you use?

Van Den Hoogen: We are using all of it: e-marketing, banner ads and webcasts. We are also really excited about getting our message out through nontraditional media such as the first ever Fortune 500 company press conference in Second Life, which Sun pioneered. Recently we did a launch of Project Blackbox, the world's first virtualized datacenter. Blackbox is a datacenter fully contained inside a shipping container. It is space and energy efficient, portable, addresses concerns of many growing companies and is ideal for rapid deployments in building instant IT infrastructures due to natural disasters, etc. Videos and photos of this new concept were quickly downloaded from sun.com and appeared all over the Web, including on Flickr, YouTube and other new-media channels.

Clark: For our small-business market we recently launched an online resource center at att.com/smallbiz. On this site we feature a lot of exclusive content to help small- business owners more efficiently and effectively run their companies. These include webinars, case studies, how-tos and tips. The initial response has been very good.

Anderson: HP leverages a number of online tools to connect with customers: live Web events, chats, e-mail, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, streaming video, communities, interactive applications and customizable portals. The magic delivered is not in the individual vehicles, however. It is in how we integrate our online platforms with offline to create a seamless path along the buying cycle.

Field: We leverage display media, search, microsites, social networking, and we will be testing newer approaches like blogging,web-casting and user-generated content.

Temple Rocks: The Internet is becoming an increasingly effective way for us to communicate with our stakeholders. We've dedicated a portion of our branding budget to online advertising, primarily banner ads.

BtoB: Do you plan to launch new ad campaigns in 2007?

Clark: The successful "Your World. Delivered." campaign will continue into 2007 with market-specific modifications made based on future business interests. Our current phase moves us into more specific communications about product and service innovations for consumer and SMB customers. And look for us in a big way in Beijing for the Olympics.

Temple Rocks: We will continue with our "Human Element" campaign, but the campaign will evolve somewhat in 2007. Additionally, the 2007 strategy includes Europe and Asia-Pacific. So there will be some new elements specific to those geographic needs.

Anderson: HP will continue to pursue an ongoing engagement with our customers. We are currently working to migrate from campaign-based activities more toward long-term dialogues.

Van Den Hoogen: Our focus for advertising [in 2007] is to drive awareness of Solaris as the most advanced operating system on the planet that is open, free and runs on more than 600 platforms, including Dell, HP, IBM and, of course, Sun.

BtoB: How are you using Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs, RSS, wikis and user-generated content?

Anderson: HP used Web 2.0 technologies long before they were called Web 2.0 technologies. We launched an HP blog program nearly two years ago and learned a lot. We also offer RSS feeds on several of our pages. ... The Change Artists program also leverages Web 2.0 technologies. In the program, CEOs and CIOs discuss the business and technology issues they face with audience participation via the Web. In addition to supporting a tighter connection with our customers, Change Artists also converts a percentage of the interactions into measurable revenue opportunities.

Van Den Hoogen: We are big believers in technologies that enable people to get value and connect over the Internet. ... We've been focused on this [since] long before Web 2.0 became a buzzword. We're calling this new era the "Participation Age"?anyone and everyone participating on the network. More than 4,000 Sun employees [including CEO Jonathan Schwartz] maintain public blogs.

Temple Rocks: We have a Web 2.0 strategy component in our branding plan and expect to use the full array of tools where and when appropriate. We set up an iTunes presence in 2006 and expect to expand that area considerably next year. We have made several speeches from our CEO available for download on iTunes. All of our news content is available via RSS. We also monitor and contribute to wikis.

Clark: We monitor all new media as they develop and look at how we are using and spending time with various types of media. We've had programs in 2006 that employ user-generated content. These were in the consumer market and largely targeted at younger demographics.

Field: We have used wikis. We will be testing user-generated content and other engagement tactics like blogging in the future.

BtoB: How important are events to your marketing strategy?

Van Den Hoogen: Events are an important part of our marketing mix. We hold events both in person and online to reach decision-makers, developers and customers. For example, JavaOne, the premier developer conference for developers, draws more than 15,000 people in person and more than 159,000 attendees online throughout the year.

Clark: Events are very important to our strategy. We maintain a strategic plan for key business trade shows and events that allow us to interact firsthand with our existing and potential business customers. These range from enterprise-level showcases to small-business seminars. ... Events provide an opportunity to physically punctuate our strategy using our most valuable marketing vehicle?our people.

Field: The ability to have the face-to-face interaction with potential and existing customers is very important to us. We execute thousands of events each year and plan to continue this important effort.

Anderson: Events are an important component to our overall marketing mix. Like all other elements in the mix, we evaluate the benefits of events against our marketing objective and the relative ROI.

Temple Rocks: Events are important to our corporate brand strategy, but only as they relate to a broader area of focus for us. For example, we are the lead partner for an organization called Blue Planet Run Foundation?an NGO [nongovernmental organization] dedicated to addressing global sustainability issues, the first of which is providing clean drinking water to 1.2 billion people who don't have access. Dow will be the presenting sponsor of the inaugural Blue Planet Run, a first-ever global endurance run around the world.

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