Technology also a driver in refining business marketing
While companies are making better use of technology in marketing campaigns, the widespread growth of consumer technologies has changed the face of many marketing approaches.
"Technology really is driving marketing these days," says Kathy Wall, president and chief operating officer of Brady Marketing Group in Menomonee Falls.
Not only do marketing firms such as Brady make use of technology in their research, "new technologies have changed the way consumers define their expectations," she says.
And the change has come fast. It wasn’t long ago that, if you wanted to research a topic, you went to a library, possibly using hours of time. "Now, you click on Google and, in a minute and a half, you have your information," she says, referring to the popular Internet search engine.
That immediacy has rubbed off.
"The ‘right now’ expectation sets the stage for how people want to buy products," Wall says, supporting marketing trend research done by Business Development Directives (BDD). (See article on previous page.)
That technology-enabled speed also allows competitors to quickly copy or expand on product features, lessening the value of product branding, Wall says, also supporting BDD’s research.
"Nowadays, the features are just the ante for being in business," Wall says. "The way you win is by the brand and by relationships."
And it’s by good use of technology that companies develop those relationships, Wall says.
While consumer-oriented marketing is moving more toward such refined marketing, it’s been in practice for business-to-business marketing for years, and it’s getting perfected, Wall says.
"In business-to-business marketing, you have long had to know you audience better; we have mastered database marketing," she says. "Relationship marketing is defined by databases."
Database marketing not only lets a business know its customers better and makes it easier to attract new customers, it also lets a business be more flexible in its marketing, Wall adds.
Good databasing can optimize prospect leads and can identify trends and other information that can affect the way a company does business, she noted.
"It will never be an exact science, but we’re a lot closer," Wall says of database development and use. "You can report yourself to death; but if you link the data back to your customers and really focus on what is relevant, you can get incredible information. And you should use it; our clients are making amazing use of it."
Amid signs of a strong economic recovery, Wall has "cautious optimism" for the new year.
Her perceptions aren’t just based on hopes and what she sees in the stock market.
They’re based on what her clients are saying and doing.
"For the first time in three or four years, long-term clients are increasing marketing spending," says Wall. "Also, we’re hearing less of ‘that’s a good idea but we’re not sure of our budget,’" she adds.
"Companies have been running so lean; everyone has been held to the fire," Wall notes. "That’s changing now."
— David Niles
— Dec. 26, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee