BMA conference focuses on value of marketing

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B-to-b marketers discussed the value that marketing brings to an organization at the Business Marketing Association's annual conference in Chicago last week.

Attendance was up slightly at this year's show, with about 160 marketers compared with roughly 130 at last year's conference.

Mike Hensley, exec VP-director of integrated marketing communications at HSR Business to Business and immediate past chairman of the BMA, said senior managers are increasingly calling on marketers to show the value of marketing to the organization.

Need to respond to the challEnge

"Business marketers need to respond to this challenge to show how marketing can be relevant to the organizational goals and can be measured," Hensley said.

At the show, marketers and consultants presented case studies and strategies that showed how b-to-b marketers can demonstrate marketing's value to the C-suite.

In a keynote presentation, Emerson CMO Kathy Button Bell discussed Emerson's rebranding campaign, which was launched in 2002 with the goal of creating a unified corporate brand image, and the challenges the marketing department faced.

Prior to 1999, when Button Bell joined the company, Emerson had no CMO, did virtually no advertising and had a very small marketing department.

The company had more than 60 business units, including In-Sink-Erator, ASCO Power Technologies, Thermodisk and Louisville Ladder Group, which were operating and marketing autonomously.

One of the key challenges was getting the entire organization to embrace a new, unified identity, including a new logo, new colors and a whole new way of communicating with customers and employees.

"We really needed to create a new culture," Button Bell said.

To help achieve this, Emerson reorganized its businesses into eight groups, including Emerson Network Power, Emerson Process Management and Emerson Climate Technologies. It named a brand officer for each group, who is responsible for serving as a liaison between the corporate marketing department and the brands in each group.

"The whole thing was about the brand architecture," she said.

Button Bell pointed to a few other strategies that helped Emerson succeed in its corporate rebranding effort.

One key strategy was an internal campaign to get employees excited about the new identity and rebranding campaign, which had the tagline "Consider it solved." Emerson used T-shirts, pole banners, a corporate video and other marketing tools to create employee buy-in.

Another key constituent was the sales force. Working with its agency DDB Chicago, Emerson created global sales kits that included a video, marketing collateral and other sales tools to help its sales force understand the new image.

The campaign rolled out in 2002 with print, outdoor and online, with new additions every year since. So far, it has proven to be a success; last year, Emerson ranked No. 2, behind General Electric Co., in Fortune's report on America's Most Admired Companies in the electronics category.

Keith Pigues, VP-marketing at global cement company CEMEX USA and one of the speakers at the BMA conference, said, "Marketing is too important to be left to marketing departments and marketers."

He said marketing cannot operate in a silo; it needs to be integrated with the entire organization.

"The role of marketing is changing," Pigues said. "Marketing is a way of running the business to drive sustainable, profitable growth."

Pigues presented a four-step process that the marketing department at CEMEX uses to create value for the organization: Identifying the most valuable opportunities to help the company grow; identifying ways to create value for the core customers; understanding how to capture a share of the value created for the customer; and making sure the value is delivered to the customer.

Also at the BMA show, the 2005 William A. Marsteller Marketing Leadership Award was presented to Anne Toulouse, VP-communications at Boeing Co. The G.D. Crain Jr. Award for excellence in business marketing was awarded to Mary Louise Nemeth, who had a 40-year publishing career, including 24 years as co-owner and marketing manager at Huebner Publications. She is now retired. M

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