Top 5 Issues on Marketers’ Minds

On my way to the gym this morning, I walked past a giant mound of dirty snow. Ugly? Yes. But it stands as a monument to the season–the season of hunkering down. The holidays are behind us. What lies ahead is the long march toward the spring. While this is not my favorite time of year, it’s always my most productive. Minus the distractions of good weather and sunlight, I can set about thinking and creating. My best ideas are hatched in these conditions.

And so it is for marketers. This is the winter of our discontent to be made glorious by our own creativity. To wit, a key finding of this year’s survey of the Marketing Executives Networking Group’s (MENG) members is that 72% of respondents indicated that innovation efforts would stay the same or increase. This is significant given that most marketing experts agree it’s imperative to innovate during a recession and further exemplifies that MENG members are leaders in their respective industries.

It’s also no surprise the economic climate showed greater interest in the survey as more marketers expressed concern on how a recession would impact priorities moving forward. For example, half of executives believe their marketing budgets will be decreased in 2009.

Fine. The most inventive designs typically emerge from situations with multiple priorities and a limited budget.

The Top Five Trends Among Chief Marketing Officers:

1. Insight and innovation viewed as keys to combat down economic and business cycles; Marketers indicated market research and development would either stay the same or increase in 2009.

2. Customer satisfaction and customer retention remained the top two marketing concepts followed by marketing ROI, brand loyalty and segmentation, which represents a “Back to Core Principles” approach to marketing.

3. The issue of global warming showed the largest decrease in importance (dropping 14 places in the rankings), while green marketing showed a statistically significant 5% drop.

4. Twice as many marketers are “sick” of hearing about Web 2.0 and related buzzwords such as “blogs” and “social networking” compared to last year’s survey; however, marketers still admit they don’t know enough about it. This was evident in the results of a social media study MENG released on November 6, 2008, showing 67% of executive marketers consider themselves beginners when it comes to using social media for marketing purposes.

5. Despite well-publicized quality issues over the last year, China ranked the number one greatest area of opportunity for marketers with international responsibility. India was a distant second with only 17% of respondents.

Interesting to note, marketing executives also still feel Boomers represent the best opportunity for customer targeting. However, the perceived importance of Generation X and Generation Y grew significantly compared to 2008.

That mound of dirty snow will slowly diminish. It will take at least 3 months. It’s my timer. By the time it disappears, I intend to have a full arsenal of new ideas, projects and fresh possibilities. May they bloom like crocuses