Friday, March 6, 2009

The Changing Marketing Mix

The press is filled with stories about the demise of traditional advertising and the in-person, public trade show. Sounds quite similar in fact to the predicted disappearance of the "brick-and-mortar" storefront, and the emergence of a new on-line world where we can do all of our shopping in our slippers from the comfort of our home. Well, IDC CMO Advisory's recent 2009 Barometer study does continue to indicate that our traditional marketing mix is in the process of permanently changing. In fact, almost 70% of technology marketers indicate that they'll be increasing their program investment in digital marketing in 2009, while 72% of companies will be decreasing their in-person events spend and 60% decreasing their advertising spend (print, broadcast and corporate sponsorships). What are the top digital marketing initiatives for technology companies in 2009?

  • Corporate web site: No longer simply a marketing billboard, the corporate web site has become the window to the customer. The most effective corporate sites offer visitors the opportunity to not only learn about your products and solutions, but to also learn about the latest technologies and business challenges as well as offering the opportunity to interact with their peers and your technology experts. (e.g., through a community portal) The best sites also track the details of visitors to enable more of a 1-to-1 experience as well as tracking detailed customer data to improve marketing's lead management and nurturing process.
  • Email: An often over-used vehicle for sending marketing collateral to the masses in a one size fits all mentality, this channel is being used more effectively for engaging with customers through an event-triggered marketing process. For example, providing respondents with additional, customized, relevant information based upon their responses to earlier communications.
  • Search engine marketing: Although display ads will continue to be part of a strong portfolio, search ads and search engine optimization(SEO) will increase in importance. Search ads offer the opportunity to more surgically target your prospects as they reach out for information, while SEO continues to yield a strong return in increasing your companies' prominence in organic search.

However, before you hand the "key to the city" over to your digital marketing team, there are some important things to consider:

  1. First and foremost, the rest of the marketing mix will continue to be an important part of a strong portfolio of marketing's strategy; and the balance of this mix will only get harder. For example, the CIO may prefer to continue reading their magazines and printing out pdf whitepapers; their direct report(s) will attend webcasts and read interactive white papers; and third level staffers will attend virtual events and online communities as part of their everyday job. Your mix will need to address the information consumption patterns of each of these roles – hence the need for role-based marketing.
  2. As you continue to rush into digital marketing, ensure that your team does not leave their Marketing 101 learnings behind. For example, continue to leverage market intelligence as part of a market segmentation strategy; to identify your target customers, to understand what information is most relevant to your customers along different stages of the buying cycle, and to understand how and where your customers' consume their information.
  3. Look for opportunities to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. While everyone is shifting to email and webcasts, a portion of your investment may be best spent on direct mail or in-person proprietary events.
  4. Yes, continue experimenting with digital marketing, however, now is the time to begin including digital marketing as part of the fabric of your go-to-market strategy. Best practitioners are establishing campaign management teams to maintain an integrated marketing strategy focused on the customer, as well as developing centers of excellence in the digital marketing space as part of a shared services strategy.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Michael - a good summary. I'd add two other specific areas that I think are (and should be) seeing increased investment by many technology marketers:

    - Thought leadership research, putting more energy not simply into publishing articles and white papers but doing more substantial research to develop stronger points of view and customer proof points

    - Account-based marketing, putting more investment into highly focused "campaigns" oriented to top accounts in close alignment with sales account teams

    Both fit well in the larger context of the shift you're describing toward more digital, more segmented and role-based approaches, and more sophisticated uses of Web and email.

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  2. I agree Rob, on both accounts. Thanks for the comment.

    Thought leadership research is one area that the better marketers will continue to invest in for 2009; especially as they strive to improve the relevancy of their content.

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