ANA exec sees growth in '03

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(Fifth in a series of Executive Outlooks)

On Jan. 3, Robert Liodice took the helm of the Association of National Advertisers as acting president-CEO. He succeeded John Sarsen, who retired from the post at the end of 2002.

Liodice joined the ANA in 1995, overseeing finance and administration. He then assumed responsibility for member relations and business development. During his tenure in that post, the ANA added approximately 150 new members and now represents more than 300 national advertisers and more than 8,000 brands.

Prior to joining the ANA, Liodice held senior positions at Kraft General Foods and Grupo Televisa.

In a recent Q&A with BtoB, Liodice said marketers must optimize their marketing mix in a struggling advertising environment and take advantage of new technologies to manage customer relationships.

BtoB: How will the economy continue to impact marketers in 2003?

Liodice: I may be an eternal optimist, but I think the economy has made its turn. I don't think we'll go back to aggressive growth of 5% to 6% [a year], but we'll have 2% to 3% GDP [gross domestic product] growth in 2002, which isn't too bad. I sense we could be up to the 3% to 4% range in 2003.

Some forecasters predict more money will be coming into the advertising arena.

The challenge for marketers is determining the best way to deploy the advertising mix to achieve a higher level of effectiveness.

BtoB: How can they best deploy the advertising mix?

Liodice: The more traditional ways are probably having less and less effectiveness as they've come through a recessionary period.

The traditional forms of TV, radio and print will continue to be mainstays of marketing, but it's a function of how to manage the mix. Marketers will need to take traditional forms and integrate a digital approach to better target consumers and customers. I think that's the real challenge for marketers today.

There is a move toward doing more digital marketing and placing more emphasis on alternative ways to reach customers. There is a trend for marketers to become more innovative in terms of reaching their customer base.

BtoB: What strategies will emerge in b-to-b marketing?

Liodice: I don't view b-to-b marketing to be that much different than consumer marketing. If you look at the Intels and IBMs of the world, they've actually used traditional media very well to change the perception of the customer base.

And if you think about consulting companies, such as Ernst & Young and Accenture, they have really taken the high road in using traditional media to get their brand identity out there, and really be able to differentiate their brands in a very challenging environment.

BtoB: What are your goals as head of the ANA?

Liodice: One of my first and most important goals is ensuring we are optimizing the delivery of marketing intellectual capital to all of our different members.

We'd like to expand the portfolio and create greater opportunities to increase our resources. The real reason the ANA has been able to grow its membership base from 188 in the mid '90s to 335 today is that we've been able to expand our charter from a straight marketing organization to one with a broader communications base.

We want to be able to use technology to connect to more individuals in member companies and be able to provide customized support for our members.

On the public front, we will be spending a lot of time and attention to meet broad industry concerns, such as family-friendly programming, global marketing, multicultural marketing and new technology.

--Interview conducted by Kate Maddox

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