Marketing's Biggest Challenges: 1. Cutting Through the Clutter
"By nature, we want to be on that information overload, because we want to make sure that we're making the best decisions," explains Bjork-Jones. "This additional content is changing the sales cycle and process, making our job, as marketers, more difficult. It's also making it more critical that we have that good communication with the sales team so that they're understanding everything that we're doing and putting in the market at the same time."
This has had a major impact on marketing programs, forcing many of the marketers at the roundtable to make their messaging more personal, targeted and relevant.
"Using data and having the right system so you can send messages that are relevant to your audience is key," says Nochlin, "because it seems as if everybody is sending everything to everyone. When you think about a campaign or product, you should be using data to manage the message—so it's really targeted to that customer."
Derek Martin, director of customer relationship management at MetLife, says that at MetLife, their strategy has been to make that connection with customers using tactics that, in many ways, get back to older principles of direct marketing.
"It's permission-based marketing," that MetLife is really doing, explains Martin, "and it allows you to drill into the areas that you are interested in. … This approach has been very helpful in understanding the topics that customers want to hear about. If you want to hear about stopping smoking, great. If you don't want to hear about it, I want to know that, too. You don't sell more products and retain customers by being a nag."
Sharon Palermo, senior program marketing manager at Manchester N.H.-based data integration company Scribe Software, has been applying some of those same tactics to Scribe's own marketing.