3 New Marketing Realities to Live By
While we're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, the attitudinal sea change that we've witnessed as a result of the recession may last for a generation.
In both B-to-B and B-to-C environments, customers are no longer buying on impulse. They don't have the access to credit they used to have, and they're hoarding their limited resources. Bottom line: They're spending less.
What does this mean for marketers? Over the next three years to five years, every company, including yours, has to demonstrate more value to keep the customers it already has, let alone attract new ones. Below you'll find three new marketing realities merchants should keep in mind if they want to survive now and in the future.
Reality 1: That 20 percent cut to your marketing budget is permanent. I can safely speak for most chief marketing officers when I assert that, by and large, we've received orders to make budget cuts this year. We also fully understand that CEOs won't be increasing our budgets anytime soon. As a result, you must be proactive. That means driving true, integrated marketing that goes beyond campaign-based metrics to return on investment-oriented metrics such as conversions, purchases and leads. You can maximize your limited budgets only when you clearly understand which strategies and tactics produce the best bottom-line payoffs. And hopefully, you're not waiting for someone to tell you to do it.
Reality 2: Measurable marketing tactics get funded; others get cut. Even as marketing departments scale back on classic offline marketing activities, they're putting more focus on online marketing tactics, including:
- Search engine optimization and pay per click: New investments in SEO have been dramatic as companies realize that getting on page one of Google's organic search results is a lot less expensive than displaying a paid search ad for the same keyword. This greater emphasis on SEO, however, doesn't imply that companies are abandoning PPC advertising. Search engine marketing continues to perform strongly — i.e., at a high ROI when done correctly.
- Email: Companies are pressing their marketing teams to squeeze more value out of this channel by experimenting with things like frequency, segmentation and customer loyalty programs in connection with social media sharing efforts. Email is widely recognized as the marketing ROI leader, and today's economic environment further accelerates email's long growth trajectory.
- Social: Based on its sheer popularity and proven engagement model, social media marketing is the new ROI wild card. Companies are starting to realize this marketing gold mine, but its potential remains largely untapped and unmeasured. How do you harness it? How do you define and measure success? As you learn the answers to these questions, it's likely that many of you will begin to allocate more time and resources to social initiatives.
The shrewdest marketers will not only continue to concentrate on measurable online campaigns, they'll also build real-time ROI dashboards that detail their results and begin to centralize metrics management.
Reality 3: A highly competitive job market means all marketers must up their games. With unemployment rates higher than any we've seen since the 1980s, it's no secret that marketing salaries have remained flat or dropped. And like overall marketing budgets, salaries are likely to stay where they are for at least the near future. So, how do you distinguish yourself as one of the lucky few who deserves a superstar compensation package? Or, in a worst-case downsizing scenario, justify why you're indispensable?
The only surefire way is to deliver superstar marketing results. One often overlooked key to stellar results is making better use of your company's investment in marketing technology. As any technology provider can attest, no matter what the offering, most users never venture beyond the most basic features. But it's the more advanced capabilities that often give you the power and flexibility to drive ROI better than your peers.
Making peace with the new marketing realities
This recession has been anything but fun, and the recovery will be anything but quick. But now that we know what we're working with, we can all take a deep breath and accept the new norms, which include the following:
- different B-to-B and B-to-C spending patterns;
- more focused marketing budgets;
- greater emphasis on measurable, online marketing tactics; and
- increasing pressure on all marketers to produce concrete results.
Here's to your success in 2010.