Serious business

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Expect some notable differences this year, compared with last year, in how b-to-b companies market their products and services to their target audiences. Some of these changes will involve what’s missing: flashy Super Bowl spots, sensational humor, glitzy marketing events. Other changes will be subtle, such as behind-the-scenes public relations and investor relations efforts, as marketers focus on cost-cutting measures to communicate their messages in a recessionary climate.

One thing is certain: B-to-b marketers are
assessing every marketing dollar they spend, and they will demand results like never before. Part of this approach is due to the economy, and part is a result of the changed world in which marketers live and do business.

"Sept. 11 brought a new perspective on how you market to b-to-b clients," said Jim Moore, exec VP-managing director of Foote Cone & Belding, New York. "There is a more serious and practical nature" to marketing efforts.

Beyond the change in tone and delivery of advertising on the front end will be intensified focus on achieving measurable results on the back end, whether that is through comprehensive database analytics or traditional metrics to evaluate online advertising.

"The real focus will be on maximizing brand value as it’s teed up to prospective customers through many different communications channels," said Cathey Finlon, chairman-CEO of McClain Finlon, Denver.

To determine the trends that will shape business marketing in 2002, BtoB spoke with marketers, agencies, analysts and technology companies. Here is their take on the Top 10 Marketing Trends of 2002.

Integrated marketing

In the past year, integrated marketing has gone from a trendy catch phrase to an indispensable business practice for success in today’s tough economy.

The landmark integrated campaign last year was Accenture’s $175 million rebranding effort, which used TV, print and outdoor advertising to gain brand awareness after a judge ordered the former Andersen Consulting to change its name in late 2000.

The Accenture campaign, which resulted in brand awareness of 75% to 100% over its former awareness level, captured BtoB’s Sawyer Award for Best Integrated Campaign of 2001.

Industry experts say companies not adopting integrated techniques risk losing marketing effectiveness.

"It’s not a trend," said Jeff Rappaport, president of Outlook Marketing Services Inc. "It has to happen, because there’s accountability in the marketing department more than ever before."

Technology consultancy and reseller Sysix Technologies L.L.C., meanwhile, recently sold $900,000 worth of Hewlett-Packard Co. servers as a result of a $5,000 integrated e-mail and postcard campaign, said John Scheaffer, CEO. "Now, very cost effectively, you can get your brand out to the marketplace," he said.

Greater ROI demand

Proving return on investment moved to the forefront in 1999 as Internet companies touted the capabilities of the Web to track everything from clicks to purchases. But this year, as b-to-b marketers scrutinize every marketing dollar spent, ROI takes on even broader significance.

"Everyone wants to see solid returns as the economy gets tougher," said FCB’s Moore. To maximize returns, FCB (which handles b-to-b clients such as Compaq Computer Corp.) is doing much more targeted communications as well as integrated marketing, he said.

"We are still using mass media, but we’re trying to pinpoint and target the b-to-b customer," Moore said.

Finlon, whose accounts include Sun Microsystems Inc., Johns Manville and Qwest Dex, said: "The language will be much more around ROI. If I put $1 into one-to-one, it’s in Web, direct and special events. Out of every $1 I put in, I want $3 returned."

Customer retention focus

B-to-b marketers will still be looking for new clients; but, as they examine the higher costs of acquiring new customers, many will focus on ways to retain existing ones with new marketing tactics and technologies.

Mike Donahue, exec-VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, said many agencies are now working with clients to help them use the Internet to maintain relationships with existing customers. "There is a higher ROI on the retention side than on the acquisition side," he said.

Many marketers are investing heavily in Web site development to interact with existing clients, rather than spending on Web advertising to acquire new ones, according to a recent survey by the Association of National Advertisers.

"Marketers are using their Web sites for customer retention, to register, test products and get product information," said Barbara Bacci Mirque, senior VP of the ANA. "It’s a way of communicating with customers, keeping them in the fold and giving them more information than they might get elsewhere."

The CRM glut

As marketers increasingly focus on customer relationship efforts, literally hundreds of companies are rushing to compete with longtime CRM giants such as Siebel Systems Inc. and PeopleSoft Inc. to bring marketers the technology they need. The question is whether there will be enough business to go around.

"On the professional services side, many, many people felt that if you could spell CRM, you could make a lot of money," said Adam Klaber, global CRM partner at New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers. "These people set up CRM consulting firms, and there are far too many of them." Klaber said he expects some of them to go out of business in the near-term.

At least one marketing adviser said that CRM developers and consultants need to specialize in order to survive. "If you understand a particular industry—for example, electronics components—you could adapt that to other industries," said Chris Burke, president of Raleigh, N.C.-based BtB Marketing Communications.

Database analytics

Web site measurement has become increasingly sophisticated, as technology has advanced from pure traffic analysis to in-depth database analytics.

Three or four years ago, comp-anies made big-budget investments in Web traffic analysis systems that cost $100,000 or more simply to process data about whether a Web site was running well, said Scott Kauffman, CEO-president of Coremetrics Inc., San Francisco. Today’s economy calls for more cost-effective analytics services, beginning around $5,000 a month, that can do the same Web site monitoring and more, he said.

By late last year, marketers were buying services that deliver measurements of Web site performance but also provide extensive data warehouses and analytical querying software that can measure such factors as customer satisfaction against Web site performance.

"In 2002, you’ll see even more distinction between Web analytics and marketing analytics," Kauffman said.

Traditional metrics online

While the Web brings rich, detailed information about buyers that lets marketers develop comprehensive customer database profiles, there’s a reverse effect going on at the same time: Marketers want online measurement to approach traditional metrics.

"People want reach and frequency [data]," said Greg Stuart, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, whose media planning and buying task force is now working on definitions to equate online advertising metrics with reach and frequency metrics familiar to traditional advertisers.

Some Web publishers, such as CBS Marketwatch, are trying to accomplish this by selling online advertising in dayparts as well as straight impression buys, to give advertisers a more traditional way of buying media to reach a demographic.

Stuart said the IAB supports efforts to sell dayparts. "If people want to establish standards, the vehicle is through the IAB," he said.

Heavier reliance on PR and IR

With marketers looking at cost-effective communications, many are turning to increased public relations and investor relations efforts to send their messages to their target audience through the filter of the media and analysts.

Sheree Johnson, senior VP-director of media services at b-to-b agency NKH&W, Kansas City, Mo., and international chairman of the Business Marketing Association, said, "Traditional, larger agencies who have lived and breathed by traditional advertising will place more of an emphasis on PR." However, she cautioned, "You can’t necessarily control the message you’re trying to convey, like you can with traditional advertising."

Many start-up companies are using IR to inform the investor community about their businesses even before launching.

"It’s important to confront how investors view and try to understand your business in the beginning," said Dave Morgan, president-CEO of Tacoda Systems Inc. "It’s an important constituency, and it’s helpful in business planning."

The globalization challenge

While U.S. b-to-b companies are still keen to expand globally, particularly in Europe and Asia, the recession has kept many initiatives from progressing at the pace many envisioned only 18 months ago. Onerous regulatory and taxation barriers are often cited as reasons for putting off global expansion.

Indeed, some b-to-b companies have pulled back; examples include the retreat of 24/7 Media Inc. from Europe and Latin America, as well as Merrill Lynch’s scale back of marketing plans for Japan.

Those U.S. companies that are achieving international success are increasingly doing so by hiring local nationals, instead of sending star stateside employees overseas, as was the practice for decades. Consulting firms are known for relying on this approach.

"You need employees from the countries you’re in," said Terry Jost, partner at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young L.L.P., a Paris-based firm with a large presence in the U.S. "With people from the region, you clearly have an advantage."

E-mail marketing

Today, about 3% of all e-mail marketing is fueled by rich media, but that number will grow to 12% by 2006, according to a recent Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. report.

In 2002, automotive, entertainment and trade show industry companies are expected to lead the charge into rich-media e-mail, said Michael Della Penna, VP-marketing at Bigfoot Interactive Inc., New York.

Rich media is defined as an Internet message that contains audio and video. The latest version of rich-media software code, called Dynamic HyperText Markup Language (DHTML), has become more flexible and easier to use than earlier versions, giving e-mail marketers a more cost-effective way to target their audience with compelling advertising.

Marketers are able to tap DHTML for anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 for the development of the creative materials, Della Penna said. ``You are going to see people in 2002 using rich-media e-mail to tell a story,’’ he said.

Point vs. platform

This year, companies will purchase so-called "point" customer relationship management applications that deliver immediate competitive advantages or cost reductions, said Bill Zierols, CEO of enterprise data system service provider CentrPort Inc.

Point solutions address a small part of the overall CRM equation, as opposed to systems designed to handle all customer communications in a closed loop, regardless of the medium of contact.

Marketers in the fourth quarter flocked to e-mail retention, automatic e-mail response and other multi-channel point CRM marketing systems that delivered immediate benefits, Zierols said.

"The nirvana is to get companies to tie all their data sources together,’’ and that’s done through long-term investment in platform, not point solutions, he said.

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