Companies still look to grow, despite downturn

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Chicago—Amid the current economic downturn, marketers aren’t just trying to ride out the storm, according to panelists who spoke Thursday at BtoB’s NetMarketing Breakfast.

The companies represented at the event—Wausau Insurance, Tellabs and Molex—are taking steps to increase their market share despite the grim outlook.

Scott Kosinski, director of marketing communications at Wausau, said that while the downturn has affected the insurance industry overall, Wausau will maintain its current marketing spending level in the coming year.

“The situation with AIG [and The Hartford] … has helped us get our message out. Some of the folks that we are working with are wondering, ‘Who else is out there and what are they offering?’” Kosinski said. As part of its effort to boost business, Wausau is shifting away from its historically brand-focused marketing to a more sales-focused approach, he said.

While Wausau is maintaining its marketing budget, Naperville, Ill.-based Tellabs will lower its budget in the next year, said Mike O’Malley, director of external marketing. Tellabs’ answer to the squeeze: “outsmart, not outspend,” he said.

Faced with larger competitors, such as Cisco Systems, which is backed with larger marketing budgets, Tellabs focused on delivering its message in a way that stands out.

“[We had] to change the medium,” O’Malley said. “If we just go and say things the same way and deliver the same ads, but we do it at one-tenth the size of our competitors, we get lost in the noise.”

So Tellabs focused on implementing new marketing strategies in addition to traditional ones already in place. Using podcasts and other forms of digital media, Tellabs is focusing on the industry’s next target audience: the “echo boomers,” or children of the baby boomer generation.

O’Malley played a video for the audience that spotlighted mobile commerce in Europe. Mobile commerce is slowly gaining speed in North America and as the echo boomers grow older, it will present a great marketing opportunity.

Like Tellabs, Lisle, Ill.-based Molex is focused on the global picture. The electronic connector manufacturer re-launched its brand in 2005, and by 2007 created a global campaign database that allows it to track every aspect of a campaign.

“The Internet is nothing more than a tactic in a campaign. If it is not done in concert with everything you are doing, then it’s not done right,” said Brian Krause, VP-marketing and communications at Molex.

The leads Molex campaigns generate are automatically parsed into different "buckets," he said. The first is for an in-house, global sales team, the second is for Molex distribution partners, and a third is recycled into various lead-nurturing programs.

—Sneh Naik

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