What are your marketing priorities for 2010? | AccountingWEB

What are your marketing priorities for 2010?

A quick search on Google indicates that surveys about business-to-business (B2B) marketing priorities tend to concentrate on tactics--rather than strategy. They also tend to focus on investments in various types of promotional activities, rather than the greater marketing picture. As for strategy, at least one survey seems to indicate that in a tight economy, B2B companies rank demand generation first and then raising awareness.

What happened to the focus on the customer?

The irony is that gaining deeper insights into customer, or prospect needs, rarely shows up as a priority, let alone a high priority. Why not?

Is it because investments in gaining customer knowledge are not of interest to those doing the surveys? Or, do researchers assume that everyone knows all they need to know about customers?

Or, is the assumption that some form of marketing research, win/loss analysis, or customer data mining is an integral part of any marketing campaign--and therefore does not need singling out? Or, do researchers know from past experience, that while everyone realizes gaining customer insights is important, it's not a primary focus or one in which companies invest heavily?

I don't know the answer. I do know that while many companies do invest in learning more about their customers, others feel that they know enough--and/or cannot afford to learn more. The question is can any of us afford not to delve deeper into what matters most to those we depend on for revenues?

Isn't customer knowledge power?

I think so.  The devil is often in the details--and nuances in capabilities and/or messaging can make a tremendous difference. That's why it's not uncommon for consumer goods marketers, "the messaging masters", to invest 10% of the anticipated cost of any marketing campaign in upfront marketing research.

Moreover, we all know of "first movers" that lost the race because they didn't move down the learning curve. Instead, competitors pulled ahead by making slight, but significant modifications to the core offering or message.

Is everyone focused solely on lead gen?

From reading the marketing trade press, one gets the impression that a lot of companies do believe that deep customer insights drive sales. These companies are investing in:

  • Data mining tools that will help them pinpoint their most promising prospects and understand exactly what helped win their business
  • Social communities that help assess the desirability of products and marketing messages before committing to their delivery
  • Usability testing to find and remove product design elements that get in customers' way
  • Social media listening tools that enable marketers to determine where audiences turn for information--and what communications resonate most with them--before jumping in the fray
  • Marketing campaign software that includes the ability to monitor conversions and determine what worked--and what didn't
  • Sales enablement solutions that make it easy to create and test responses to alternative lists, messages, and offers

Gaining deep customer insights doesn't need to be expensive

Investments in increasing customer intimacy are not limited to large companies. While many smaller companies may not have the financial or human resources to invest in the automated listening tools listed above, they have other options at their disposal. Many of our clients gain deep insights by easy-to-administer programs such as:

  • Using free social media listening tools to monitor market trends, conversations about the need for the solutions their companies offer, and any mention of their name and/or their competition's
  • Interviewing customers and prospects to learn about the steps these individuals took before making a recent purchase decision--and what triggered these actions
  • Developing case studies about the benefits that satisfied customers derived from their solutions
  • Following customers, and those who influence decisions about their products and services, on Twitter

The question, however, isn't what others are doing, but what you're doing. Will this be the year of the customer for your business? Ready to start today? Test your customer IQ now!

This blog

by Barbara Bix - In tough economic times, more and more clients are looking to their accountants to help them improve the bottom line. Often, the best way to do that is to start with the top line-since one can only decrease expenses so far. This blog discusses concrete actions you and your business-to-business clients can use to accelerate revenues.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.