I recently asked a question on LinkedIn about what were the top three challenges that marketers faced in 2009. The responses were varied and unexpected in many ways. Based on those responses, I believe the following will be the top three marketing challenges in the coming year:
Budget is definitely one concern for marketers. As companies reduce their budgets for 2009, this may limit on what marketers can do with their programs. Investments may be kept to a minimum while ROI on tactics will be scrutinized more.
Despite budget woes, marketers will have to increase company visibility within the industry and amongst customers. SEM/SEO, public relations, social media and other perceived “inexpensive” tactics will be used more by marketers.
Now more than ever, customers are in the driver’s seat. More vendors are chasing an ever limited number of customers and budgets. Customers can wring out more value per dollar spent. In 2009, the challenge will be cost-effectively reaching those customer with money to spend. The challenge is not overwhelming these customer with too much information or using social media in such a way to create customer backlash (credit to Linda Franklin for this insight).
In the end, it’s about keeping customers LOYAL to YOUR company, products and services.
Getting More out of Less
Inevitably, there will be some layoffs or organizational restructuring that will happen, if not already completed. That means those remaining will have to do more with less. Do more marketing. Drive move leads. Place more media stories. All with less.
Most importantly, marketing organizations that are able to strategically align all functions toward the same objective will reap the rewards. While this isn’t something revolutionary, it resonates more now than ever. Those companies who can communicate a clear brand and message to the marketplace and customers will be well positioned as we come out of this downturn.
This isn’t the first time, or the last time, we will see an economic downturn. I may be trivializing this but in the end, it comes down to results – who can do what with the most results for the least amount of money.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? What are you recommendations?
Customer participation in your marketing and PR efforts provides validation of your products and services. While you may have many satisfied customers, getting them to YES is one of the challenges we face as marketers.
Sales is your friend: A happy customer is more likely to renew contracts. Believe me, sales will know who these folks are and can point you to the right contact or make the initial introductions. As long as you’re providing something of value to the customer, sales will support as much as they can.
Engage customers: Engage customers as part of a strategic, white glove outreach program. This way, you engaged in a conversation about their programs and provide another contact for the customer. Otherwise, you’re just constantly asking for a favor.
Listen, listen, listen: This is very key. Engagement is more than talking at a customer. It requires the ability to listen and respond to your customer.
Highlight the benefits: Once you’ve engaged the customer, and depending on the implementation, highlight the benefits of participating in the customer program, such as increased brand awareness, positive positioning, etc. If your customer contact is career minded, then mention how marketing and PR can raise their profile within their industry.
Be sensitive to their day-to-day demands: Ok, let’s assume that your customer is open to doing PR/marketing. It’s important to confirm what types of activities he or she is open to doing, such as a testimonial, media opportunity or case study, and how often. The last thing you want to do is embark on a case study but the client is too busy to review or approve the final draft. And being aware of availability will help you to prioritize PR/marketing requests.
These are just a few suggestions that you can consider. Are there others that you’ve used to get a customer to participate in your programs?
One of my most popular posts last year was my summary of 2008 trend lists. I’m a little late this year, but better late than never =) When I look back at my three trends, it seems odd that I selected the growth of blogomerates, social media connections for PR and long tail PR. To me, these seem almost second nature!
So what do I think will be top trends for 2009? Here are my top three:
Brands that participate in conversations will thrive: Ever more so than ever, the need to participate in conversations with your community/customers is more important. Not only from a brand management perspective, but also for demonstrable bottom line results. The brand that connects with me – either for bad or good – will more likely get my attention. And when the nexy crisis emerges, those that are transparent and timely will succeed.
All things virtual will rise in popularity and then wane by the end of the year: Right now, all companies are spooked by the economy. I think this is a knee jerk reaction that will benefit companies that can help move physical events online (note: my company provides virtual events solutions). While this will provide immediate cost and time savings by reducing travel and hotel costs, I think that the pendulum will swing back by the end of 2009. However, once this trend begins, I believe that companies will reconsider which events to hold in the physical world vs. the virtual one.
It’s not about the tools, it’s about the information (attributing this to Stuart Miniman): I was chatting with Stuart when he made this comment, and he’s right. Right now, we’re enamored with all the tools – Twitter, Tweetdeck, Twhirl, Facebook, Friendfeed etc. – but what this all boils down to is the how to receive and send information. The company able to bring manage and disseminate information based on audience preferences – and in real-time – will have an advantage in the age of overwhelming information.
Other 2009 Predictions:
Peter Himler over at The Flack beat me to a list of 2009 trends. These focus on social media, marketing and public relations
Influential Marketing Blog – 2009 Predictions from the Pros at PSFK
Conversation Agent – The Future is Now. Valeria looks at the future of the agency and company in this post.
Scott Monty’s Social Media Predictions for 2009
Marketing Pilgrim – Why 2009 is THE Year for Social Media
Chris Brogran – 8 Marketing Bloggers to Watch in 2009
Charlene Li of The Altimeter – Predictions for 2009
Judith Hurwtiz’ Weblog – My Top Eleven Predictions for 2009 – predictions for the world of software.
Inside the Marketer’s Studio – David Berkowitz’s Marketing Blog – Search Trends to Watch in 2009
It’s All Virtual – 2009: The Year We Go Virtual
The Junta42 blog – 42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009 - Nice summary of predictions from savvy marketers.
Paul Dunay’s Buzz Marketing for Technology – Top 10 Marketing Predictions for 2009 - Paul selects his top 10 from the Junta42 Blog list.
What’s Next Blog – B.L. Ochman’s 2009 Online Marketing Predictions: Mobile, Better Lighting, Subscriptions Rule - I like prediction number 7 =)
Collaborative Thinking – 2009: Planning Considerations for Enterprise 2.0. While not a “trends” list, it is an interesting list to read nonetheless
Read Write Web – 2009 Web Predictions. Predictions by the staff at RWW – acquisitions, business plans and more!
Micropersuasion – Reading Tea Leaves for 2009 in Google Search Data. I love Steve Rubel’s approach to data mining information from Google Search to analyze trends for 2009.
Social Media Explorer - More 2009 Predictions… And A Few Of Your Own. Jason Falls is a very insightful guy. He brings us predictions from Mindsalt. I like the one about time snippets vs. time slot for attention.
Small Business Hub – Online Marketing: 2009 Predictions. Small Business Hub is HubSpot’s blog. They once again bring us a wealth of predictions for this year and even beyond.
Furrier.org – Clay Shirky Media Business Market – His Forecast for 2009 – Look for the deeper meaning within his words . John Furrier writes this blog about all things Silicon Valley and tech. John does the heavy lifting to better understand Clay Shirky’s 2009 predictions.
Experience Marketing Perspective – Five Marketing Trends that Will Boom in 2009. Kristin Morris brings a fresh perspective with her trends regarding virtual events, mobile marketing and more.
my 2 cents – PR Forecast for the New Year. David Reich provides some interesting insights about PR for 2009. I’m not sure if these are pessimistic, optimistic or a bit of both =)!
Brendan Cooper – provides his thoughts for social media in 2009
Daniel Durazo’s Blog – Daniels highlights his top public relations trends for 2009. Daniel is correct that the landscape has changed and those who can keep up with it will succeed.
Leave a comment if you have any additional trend lists you would like added.
Last week, my cousin forwarded me an email to warn me about buying gift cards from several retailers this year. Wanting to pass along this friendly consumer warning, I posted the email with my thoughts on my blog.
Since then, I believe that I was duped into passing around false information. While this email may not be accurate, it was successful, as I did forward it to others and posted it on my blog. And if it is truly false, I was also intrigued by the response, as well as lack of response, by the retailers named on the list.
Why was the email successful
The Power of Fear
The email was partially successful because it is playing with our fears about this holiday season. With the current financial markets, layoffs and overall uncertainty of what will happen in a few months, many of us are tightening our belts this season. And since gift cards have become a popular to give gifts, many of us would’ve been concerned about buying something that wouldn’t be valuable after the new year.
I don’t know how many people my cousin forwarded the email to; however, if I assumed that 50% of the people forwarded it on and an additional 50% forwarded it, this email could have been spread to several dozens more. We were all motivated by good intention to provide a friendly warning to friends during the holiday season.
Kernel of Truth
Most importantly, the emails had a kernel of truth in it. The news had covered news about prominent retailers going bankrupt this year, such as Sharper Image, Circuit City and Mervyn’s. The email further added to this semblance of truth with additional information about store closings by retailers. And the seemingly detailed information served to enhance the email’s validity.
Ease of Technology
More now than ever, it has become easier to spread inaccuracies online – hit forward to spread an email to your contact list or copy, paste and publish it on your blog. Others will record a quick message on their webcam and post it online. Technology has become so ubiquitous that it becomes even tougher to control the spread of misinformation.
The Net Net – Monitor Your Online Reputation is Even More Important
Since posting about this email on November 20th, I received two retailer comments.
I work for Ann Taylor Stores Corporation and wanted to assure you that Ann Taylor is a financially strong Company with a healthy balance sheet.
We already communicated early this year that we are closing a number of stores through 2010, but we continue to open new stores and have close to 1,000 stores in our fleet. Ann Taylor and LOFT Gift Cards are a great idea for gifting this holiday, and they can be redeemed at any of our stores or online.
Although the source of this viral email is questionable, we felt we should clarify the misleading information because we want our clients to always feel confident in their Ann Taylor purchases.”
While I applaud Ann Taylor for being the first to comment within a few hours of my post, I did inquire why no name was included with the comment. I thought this would add a personal element – you know, putting a face to the company. Regardless, I quickly updated my blog posting and this is when I started to question the veracity of the email. (Still waiting on response though from Ann Taylor PR regarding name…)
Wilsons Leather is NOT closing any stores. Wilsons Leather sold the company in August. All of the Wilsons Leather stores that were closing are already closed. The Outlet locations are still in business.
With Wilson Leather, a real person did respond to my post about 3 days after my initial posting. Is this soon enough or has the damage been done?
Conclusion – Be Careful with What You Post or Email
People are people. We tend to believe our friends and family when they send us emails out of good intentions. I would like to say that I will be better about the information that I get, but I can’t promise this. With the speed of email, blogs and video, corporate brands have to be more diligent about their online reputation.
While my blog doesn’t have the reach of others, Ann Taylor and Wilson Leather both recognized the value of posting a comment regardless. You never know what your customer is reading and from whom.
The others? Well, despite my posting, I argue that not responding only further supports that the email may be accurate … at least for them.
What do you think? Anything else that helped to propel this email?
UPDATE: Received comment from Ann Taylor that indicates that this may be a viral email that is being passed around. If someone has any information on this, let me know and I will update accordingly. As such, I am taking Ann Taylor’s name off the list. Let’s see if other retailers will respond to their online reputation…
UPDATE: 11/24/08 Wilson Leathers has responded in the comments below so I’m striking their name from the list. Will be posting an update shortly.
# # #
My cousin just sent me an email about gift cards, especially from companies that have filed for bankruptcy this year. Per her email:
“Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as ‘Bankrupcy Planning). Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be
The list includes (I cannot verify the accuracy of this as this list was forwarded to me. Please feel free to clarify in the comments if there are additions or deletions to be made):
Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
Ann Taylor- 117 stores nationwide closing
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine’s to close 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
Cache will close all stores
Talbots closing down specialty stores
J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots)
Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
GAP closing 85 stores
Footlocker closing 140 stores mo re to close after January
Wickes Furniture closing down
Levitz closing down remaining stores
Bombay closing remaining stores
Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
Whitehall closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda closing all stores
Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
Home Depot closing 15 stores 1 in NJ ( New Brunswick )
Macys to close 9 stores after January
Linens and Things closing all stores
Movie Galley Closing all stores
Pep Boys Closing 33 stores
Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
Wilson Leather closing down all stores
Sharper Image closing down all stor~s
K B Toys closing 356 stores
Loews to close down some stores
Dillard’s to close some stores
Personally, I think this is a deceptive practice by these companies. I suppose, if you’re in bankruptcy with little options to come out of it, you’re not worried about customer loyalty. I can imagine a huge uproar as folks drop by on Jan. 1 and find their cards worthless.
Last night, I went to my first Social Media Club organized by the San Francisco/Silicon Valley chapter. Larrissa of Livingston Communications mentioned it to me – while she wasn’t able to attend, I’m glad she told me about it. Yes – I know what you’re thinking – you ONLY just heard about the SMC? Well, I AM getting old =)
The event was held in San Mateo and was surprisingly well attended – about 40-50 people. There were 6 social media case studies being presented, highlighting not only program strategies but also how these campaigns contributed to increased awareness in the marketplace.
Last night’s event was Ustreamed and my understanding is that presentations will be available. I’ll update when I find out more. Briefly, they included:
My Starbuck’s Ideas – Execution and results to date
Sutter Health Castro Valley – Using a blog to reach your community and how to counsel your client on the steps
Nero Product Launch – Blogger outreach program and how this increased conversations about Nero
Dwell Conference – How to use social media to drive attendance to a physical event and create a self-sustaining community until the next event
Network Solutions‘ Social Media Efforts – Discussed how the program began, getting executive buy-in and results
Get Out the Vote Video – Driving views and comments for a YouTube video
Time – Doh! It takes time and these case studies demonstrated this once again. Set proper expectations with your client or executives.
Comment – Take time to respond to people’s comments. It signals that you’re listening and helps to continue the conversation. And it seems to be an underutilized strategy for YouTube videos.
Measure – Each of these case studies had key objectives and success was measured against these objectives, such as achieving 3 million views on YouTube, selling a number of registrations to an event, or reach of postings to key audience.
Update – Be Visual – David Peck was frustrated by PowerPoint for his preso, which lead to a quick chat before he left for the evening. I concur with him – Shashi presented a photo of Geoff Livingston with boxes of Motrin in his hands. No words but everyone in the room instantly knew what that meant. While I couldn’t provide this feedback to David, I would have recommended doing a flickr stream intead – upload his images to a dedicated folder and set to a slide presentation or just manually forward. I don’t know – that was an initial thought but getting out of PowerPoint or not using it at all was the key takeaway.
Conclusion: Social Media IS an Opportunity for PR
Per my last post about Will Social Media Kill PR panel summary, this meeting demonstrates the opportunity for PR to leverage social media for higher value to clients, while providing demonstrable results. It’s about more than blogger relations (though Mike McGrath did present on this), it’s about how to reach your client’s core audience and achieving key marketing objectives. Social media is just one of the ways to achieve this.
What do you think?
Other Social Media Posts
While there are a lot of posts about how to pitch a blogger, I thought it would be an interesting twist to list the top five mistakes I’ve made a la Letterman style:
My Top 5 Pitching Blogger Mistakes
Number 5: Oops – I thought that was MISS Blogger, not MISTER Blogger
Number 4: Spellcheck is a wonderful technology…when you USE it
Number 3: I’m not stalking you honestly. Could you just puhleeze respond to me?
Number 2: Sorry – didn’t realize you just wrote about this… yesterday!
And the number 1 mistake that I’ve made pitching a blogger:
Who cares about YOUR interests, it’s all about ME
What mistakes have you made? Bonus points for your Letterman style list!
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All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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