Market Smarter in 2009: Make the Right Choices


Tim J. Smith, PhD
Founder and CEO, Wiglaf Pricing

Published March 22, 2009

For many companies, 2008 has been a challenging year. The new realities of our current market and economy have impacted many sectors, and even more expect to feel the effects in 2009.  This makes it even more important than ever to plan smarter, more effective ways to market to industrial and technical buyers in the year ahead.

Based on internal research into market trends and feedback from our customers, here are strategic recommendations to achieve marketing success in 2009. All of these recommendations have something in common: better decision making when it comes to marketing choices.

Make the most out of finite resources

Our research shows that having too few resources is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketing professionals in the industrial sector. At the same time, marketers also are tasked with demonstrating results and improving ROI. While “doing more with less” is a challenge for any marketer, there are two ways to approach this situation.

Number one; understand what your executive team expects your company’s marketing investments to deliver. Together, you should define clear and realistic objectives and establish metrics to measure marketing performance.

Second, consider dropping programs that haven’t proven to be effective or can’t be measured, and replace them with programs that have shown to deliver quality leads as well as provide performance metrics. Quality leads are those coming from motivated prospects who fit your target customer profile and whose contact information is made available to you, providing you the opportunity to begin a dialogue.  As for performance metrics, online programs are the easiest to measure: they are built on views, clicks and conversions.

Diversify your marketing portfolio

While you may be forced to make difficult decisions about reducing your marketing budget in the year ahead, you also want to make sure that you don’t allocate all of your resources to a single marketing tactic.  Diversification of your marketing portfolio is important because your audience uses multiple sources to find components and suppliers, as well as conduct research. Today, the majority of these sources are online. Your customers visit industrial Web sites, use more than one search engine, and subscribe to multiple relevant e-newsletters.

As a marketer, your job is putting your company, products and services in those places where customers and prospects can find you. In other words, fish where the fish are. For example, according to the 2008 GlobalSpec engineering trends survey, 74 percent of engineers and industrial professionals visit six or more work-related Web sites per week; 20 percent visit 20 or more. In addition, 59 percent use two or more search engines for work-related purposes.

Many industrial marketers have made smart decisions in response to these customer and market trends. Thirty percent spend more than 50 percent of their overall marketing budget online, according to 2008’s GlobalSpec industrial marketing trends survey. Three of their four top lead generation sources are online, with online directories/Web sites and e-mail the two most frequently used marketing channels.

Remember two words: frequency, consistency

Even with finite resources, it’s vital to maintain a level of frequency and consistency.  It is crucial to stay in front of your customers and prospects.  You should never disappear for stretches at a time.  If that means you need to focus marketing efforts on a few of your strongest market sectors, do it.

The benefits of regular visibility accrue over time as more prospects recognize your company. This improves your opportunity to get on a prospect’s short list of potential vendors and also shortens the sales cycle. Demand exists even in a challenging market. Only those companies that maintain their presence through marketing will stay in the minds of customers and prospects.

Plan for a consistent and frequent online presence on Web sites, directories and search engines your customers use and the e-newsletters they read. Your company will achieve stronger brand awareness and more measurable lead generation via online contact.

Your marketing message

This is a good time to evaluate your message to the market. What do your customers stand to gain by using your products and services during a challenging economy? Is part of your value proposition efficiency or cost savings, or do you offer support and service that sets you apart from competitors and lowers risk for your customers? Use current economic conditions to your advantage when planning creative and messages.

Time is short to start preparing and planning for 2009. Remain positive. Stay on top of all trends in your industry. Reach your audiences using media they use.

Focus on these recommendations and you’ll achieve strong results in 2009.

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About The Author

Tim J. Smith, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Wiglaf Pricing, an Adjunct Professor of Marketing and Economics at DePaul University, and the author of Pricing Done Right (Wiley 2016) and Pricing Strategy (Cengage 2012). At Wiglaf Pricing, Tim leads client engagements. Smith’s popular business book, Pricing Done Right: The Pricing Framework Proven Successful by the World’s Most Profitable Companies, was noted by Dennis Stone, CEO of Overhead Door Corp, as "Essential reading… While many books cover the concepts of pricing, Pricing Done Right goes the additional step of applying the concepts in the real world." Tim’s textbook, Pricing Strategy: Setting Price Levels, Managing Price Discounts, & Establishing Price Structures, has been described by independent reviewers as “the most comprehensive pricing strategy book” on the market. As well as serving as the Academic Advisor to the Professional Pricing Society’s Certified Pricing Professional program, Tim is a member of the American Marketing Association and American Physical Society. He holds a BS in Physics and Chemistry from Southern Methodist University, a BA in Mathematics from Southern Methodist University, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and an MBA with high honors in Strategy and Marketing from the University of Chicago GSB.