Outlook 2005: Bolster Your Marketing Prowess in 2005

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There are so many places to put your money, energy and intellectual capital when it comes to marketing. I recommend focusing your energy in 2005 in four areas.


I wish they were as simple as ABCD, but each is rigor onto itself. Nonetheless, learning about these four drivers for your business will reward you with better marketing and will make you a better marketer to boot.


• A is for attitude - your customer's, though your attitude is important, too.


• B is for broadband.


• C is for that ill-fated moniker that remains of fundamental importance: CRM.


• D is for dashboard - the saving grace for the career professional.


First, get your database of customers and prospects organized. Collect leads from your Web site, cull and merge your sales and management team's contacts and rent lists to bolster your coverage.


Leverage this golden list for direct and e-mail marketing. Use it for market research. Track your Web visitors' travels and abandons to optimize your site. Whether you are a high-volume consumer product or a deeply matrixed enterprise solution, you can increase sales by carefully managing and smartly using your database.


You can use ACT, Siebel, Salesforce.com or, if you really don't have much budget, Excel combined with Coremetrics, Mercury Interactive or WebTrends as well as e-mail marketing services like SilverPop, Digital Impact, CheetahMail or DoubleClick.


Increasing your expertise in CRM should form the foundation of your effort for 2005.


Next, cement your brand positioning. Who are you? Why do your customers care about you? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? Does your company's brand delight prospects? If not, it is time to leverage broadband and give all those customers surfing the Web with high-speed, always-on connectivity a new view of you.


Buy large-format ads that let users interact or "click within" and offer a deeper, more engaging experience. Most publishers accept PointRoll, Eyeblaster and Viewpoint/Unicast. When planning a campaign, pick a vendor and ad unit accepted across all your media targets to streamline quality assurance and trafficking.


If you don't have an interactive agency, get one. Have it develop rich media online marketing campaigns and find your customers online. There is no excuse for lame creative, even if where you run an ad is five times more important than which ad copy runs, according to the Atlas Institute.


Ensure your agency copy tests your creative and use a central ad serving solution like Atlas DMT, ZEDO or DoubleClick so you have reasonable metrics for comparison and can "feed your dashboard."


A good agency optimizes your campaign for clicks, leads, sales or other goals you establish. But impact should be your aim as well. Use OTX Research, Dynamic Logic or Insight Express to run an attitudinal overlay on your campaign to measure recall, purchase intent and how well your target understands the messages in your ad's "perceived brand imagery."


Marketing isn't just about delivering sales. It is also about building a rich brand personality for today and the future. Make sure your marketing tells the right story by measuring how your targets feel about your value proposition by doing attitudinal research. Just tracking "clicks' is akin to shooting blanks.


Finally, get your metrics lined up. I suggest starting with your "ultimate dashboard" and working backward to create your marketing plan. Your goal is to drive revenue. Figure out how your hard work contributes to sales. Does site traffic increase leads? Does e-mail drive orders? Do rich media ads on targeted sites jack up your "intent to purchase" metrics?


Create a marketing funnel that tracks prospects every step toward an order. (I know, my friends in consumer packaged goods, life is harder for you.) Find ways to quantify and then improve those metrics each step of the way. This will increase efficacy and help you focus on activities that best drive sales.


So, for 2005, whip your database into shape, experiment with more evocative ads and become a metrics hound. These are the capabilities that will catapult you into the rarified league of thought-leading marketers.


Susan S. Bratton is CEO of online marketing consultancy Cendara Inc., Los Altos, CA, and chairwoman of the Ad:tech conference. E-mail her at susan@cendara.com.


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