When the Business Roundtable released its survey recently that showed only one-third of American CEOs are planning to add workers in the next six months, sales and marketing executives may have cringed, but they weren’t surprised.
As companies continue to try and do more with less, the pressure is intensifying on those who are tasked with finding new customers and keeping old ones. Just getting their attention is a very challenging proposition.
“Finding a quality lead is as hard as finding a good mortgage these days,” said Gary Brooks, who is Executive Vice President at Bomgar Corporation, an Atlanta-area computer software company that solves technical issues for organizations that have remote employees and remote customers.
What do these sales and marketing executives have in common with their customer?
“We are all in the same boat. We have to generate more revenue and drive new sales with fewer resources than before,” said Janet Cleworth of Sage Company, an international supplier of business management software and services.
Both executives agree that today’s customer is more demanding because of the pressure the economy generates.
“It is an interesting dilemma, We have to communicate with the customer a lot more than we used to, even though we have fewer staff to do it,” said Cleworth. “So we are looking for new and cost-effective ways to do it.”
Cleworth said she has been talking with a company that provides marketing and lead generation services to executives like her, who need to meet the demands of new and existing customers in this difficult economy.
“When we speak with business leaders like Janet, they lament that the economy is horrible and they can’t hire extra people to do all that is needed to grow their business,” said Mitch Bednar, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Production Solutions, Inc., a Washington, D.C-area marketing firm that specializes in direct response, targeted sales and marketing applications. “And yet they have to compete aggressively. We like to think that we deliver integrated lead generation and marketing solutions that do the work that employees used to do.”
For Cleworth, her focus is on what some call “retention marketing,” keeping an existing customer active and purchasing.
“We have to be nimble and willing to do something new and always be responsive to what is going on in the market place. The bottom line is that not only do we have to talk with the customer a lot more than we used to, but we have to do it in fresh and memorable ways,” she said.
Executives like Sage’s Cleworth and Bomgar’s Brooks don’t have a bank vault they can simply open to pay for new staff to deliver these services. If they are going to spend, they have to spend wisely and get tangible results.
“What we are finding is that clients can afford more outside business solutions than they think. We help them diagnose their lead generation and retention challenges, and prescribe efficient, innovative, and most importantly, cost effective solutions,” said Production Solution’s Bednar. “If we help them grow their top line revenue in this challenging economy, then we all win.”
For Bomgar, Brooks finds that communicating with his customers is an exploration in diversity.
“Many of the IT Executives that we sell to today have developed certain expectations of the type of technology support we provide. And yet, many of their users who use our service are the Millennial generation, those 70 Million Americans who are just entering the workplace. We have to be able to communicate with both generations,” said Brooks.
“That’s what a marketing partner does, understands the various target audiences the customer needs to reach, and deploys the right tools to connect with them,” he said.
For Janet Cleworth, the questions are about efficiency and effectiveness as she looks for solutions to her marketing challenges across all media platforms.
“How am I spending my marketing money? What’s the proper balance between direct mail, email, digital marketing, and social media? I have to mix and match all the time. That’s what I’m looking for in a marketing partner, someone I can turn to and help me figure it out. ”
For executives like Brooks, Cleworth and Bednar, these are challenging but also exciting times.
“In this challenging economy there’s absolutely no better feeling for us and our customers than when we achieve results,” said Bednar.
And while companies and organizations continue to keep the lid on adding new employees, the challenge to achieve those results in a cost efficient way will continue.
Production Solutions Lead Management: www.leadtivity.com
Overwhelmed Marketer blog: http://www.leadtivity.com/the-overwhelmed-marketer2/
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