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Thinking global may help U.S. marketers

TELECOM POTENTIAL

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Braue is particularly optimistic about China's telecommunications potential. “That 8% growth is about half of what it was last year, but a lot better than much of the rest of the world,” he said. By contrast, the World Bank said last month that world output overall would decline by 1.7% this year. U.S. GDP fell at an annual rate of 6.3% in the fourth quarter, the steepest decline in more than 25 years. To aid in its international push, Light Reading last year bought Pyramid Research, a provider of communications industry market data with particular strengths in South America, Africa and Asia. Overseas opportunities may exist for U.S. companies that put an emphasis on customer service, according to new research from Accenture. The management consultancy found that companies in several overseas countries are much less tolerant of what they perceive as poor customer service, causing them to switch vendors more aggressively than their U.S. counterparts. The phenomenon is most noticeable in China, where 55% of companies have switched vendors in the past year because of unfulfilled customer service expectations, followed by Sweden (46%), India (44%), Italy (44%), Finland (43%) and companies in Asian countries other than China (36%). In the U.S., by contrast, only 22% of companies have switched vendors in the past year because of disappointing customer service. “In China and India, both emerging economies, their expectations have risen pretty dramatically,” said Brian Sprague, senior executive responsible for customer service and support within Accenture's communications and high-tech industry group. “With those expectations, they are less loyal in their business relationships. They're saying, "If you do give me a differentiated customer experience, you could probably lock in my business,' ” Sprague said. As always, marketing stumbling blocks exist. “International marketing has unique challenges, and one of the main ones is not being able to get adequate data,” said Michael Fisher, senior VP-sales and marketing for the Americas at integrated marketing software provider Alterian. It's a particular challenge for b-to-b marketers, Fisher said, but it's one that may be changing. “As marketers begin to realize they're operating in a mature environment in the U.S., and with a greater need to expand globally, higher-quality data for better targeting is emerging,” said Jay Schwedelson, corporate VP at database company Worldata. “The quality is growing along with demand.” Schwedelson added: “International data isn't cheap, and it's limited in quantity. But list providers want an avenue for marketers to test, and marketers are trying to find the budget to do that.” Last month, direct marketing company Harte-Hanks Inc. expanded its Ci Technology Database with profiles of some 44,000 decision-makers within 10,000 Chinese companies. “One of the most exciting discoveries we made while gathering this intelligence is that, despite a global economic shift, these companies are planning to spend several hundred million dollars on information technology,” said Tino Kokkinos, managing director of Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence. M
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