Final Thoughts for 2008

Leave a comment

I sit here today with great hope for 2009 and thankful that 2008 will soon be behind us all. It’s been a challenge these past few months to stay focused on anything, but producing results of today. In fact, I think that’s the one thing about this past fall that has been a change for me. I am so used to being able to balance strategic longer term goals and the needs of sales and leads of today. But, that has not been the case since the summer…

My 2009 marketing budget has a different make up then in years past. Typically, I set aside 20% of my budget for innovation and ad hoc program spending. This year’s budget has virtually no ad hoc spending set aside. I have allocated 10% toward creating a greater presence online. Not exactly sure of the results, but that’s all I can afford for innovation spending in 2009…until we all have greater market visibility.

I saw that Chris Brogan forecast a painful market consolidation of the online community software players, which is really needed to create stronger companies and stronger products. My concern is that marketers will sit on the sidelines the first half of 2009 waiting for the strong to be truly identified. Visibility to sufficient funding is surely going to be hard to achieve for virtually all in 2009. It’s hard for anyone to build a profitable business model to compete with Ning, which is virtually free, or KickApps, which has such a low start-up cost.

I think 2009 will be a struggle for any marketer not having a product in the “must have” category or a product that does not have an immediate and quantifiable cost savings. And I’m not talking about “soft savings”. I’m talking hard savings that will have an operational ROI. If you are a “nice to have”, expect your project not to make it past the CFO…

Have a safe new year’s celebration.

Late Marketing Planning for 2009

Leave a comment

The final touches for my 2009 marketing plan are being completed. I do not recall a period where I have been making such changes this late in the planning process. I bet I’m not alone…

I normally start aggressively working on my next year’s plans right after Labor Day. While everyone is focused on delivering a strong Q3, I’m communicating with others to learn about their aspirations and plans for the upcoming year. I’m also trying to get into the heads of senior management about their expectations. From this information, I head into October with a pretty good sense of what the specific needs and expectations are. It has helped me head into the official planning sessions with a pretty good sense of my resources requirements- be that people or marketing spend.

This year though has been different. In November, we decided to revisit each and every element of our marketing plan to make sure we were prepared to make “changes” rapidly in 2009. This thinking has made us juggle some of our spending commitments in a manner that delays certain funding. I wonder if we are alone in this approach.

One thing we decided to do was to not exhibit at any trade shows this upcoming year. I mean zero. I saw a dramatic drop off in attendance at events starting in October… I bet it continues into 09, until people have greater visibility.

The one area that we have greatly increased our spending and efforts is around online engagement. We are planning to focus a lot of our efforts on our partners and customers.

2009 for me is about creating stronger customer engagements via the internet. What about you?

Getting to the Moment of Wow

1 Comment

The number one question I get when I talk to marketing people about social media and online communities is “what’s in it for me?” My response? You should care because soon it will be a standard component in your marketing mix. And it won’t be an option for you. Think of it as the next generation website. The key difference is that your next generation website will help you drive sales and create deeper customer loyalty and increased prospect stickiness. The era of brochureware is coming to an end. That’s what’s in it for you.

As soon as you help a marketer start to put a business context around social media and online communities, you begin to see the creative juices start to flow. It’s almost magical to see the transition to wow. The moment of wow is when the marketing possibilities around social media and online communities begin. It’s the moment they begin to appreciate how they can use the medium for building stronger business relationships.

Turning the moment of wow into marketing objectives and creating quantifiable business value begins by defining what you want to achieve. This is no different from any other part of your marketing mix.

Some of the objectives in a business to business marketing program might be:

  • Create a trusted environment that fosters conversation and engagement. This is not a time for brochure copy.
  • Create a way for our trusted members to help and share with each other.
  • Offer content on a continuous basis that helps drive independent conversation.
  • Create content that helps you learn how people use your product(s).
  • Create a learning opportunity to learn what people want to do with your products and services.
  • Create sticky value that provides a competitive advantage.
  • Create micro-segmented communications opportunities to expand marketing foot print.

These aspirations will help you drive increased “relationships” to your brand and company. Robert Van Arlen thinks of this as a way to have your clients sing about you. Effectively, you are able to transfer the value of the “Wow” to customers and prospects at all levels.

The fastest growing segment of the social media market is around providing trusted business to business engagement. Social media is thriving because people have always engaged with each other. It’s a natural part of human communications. We naturally engage each and every day with our spouse, children, family, friends, neighbors, golfing friends and business associates. Although Facebook and MySpace get the coverage, they generally are not trusted by adults, unless of course you are looking for a date, want to check out your favorite band or have time to surf. For the majority of adults, they are not willing to “expose” themselves to everyone. I think that people like LinkedIn because they only share their resume or CV with the world.

Unfortunately, we as adults have many sides of our life. And you want to be in control. Businesses are always looking for ways to extend their capabilities and engage their customers and prospects in ways that result in higher retention, lower risk, increased ROI, and greater operational capacity.

Social media and online communities will be standard parts of your next generation marketing mix. Off the shelf products are now available to help you get started and learn. It will not cost you an arm and leg to experiment. You’ll find that this is a world that you will be operational in weeks.

When will you have your moment of wow?

%d bloggers like this: