Outlook 2010: Prognosis: Baby Steps
In late November, we surveyed the All About ROI editorial board members and other marketing insiders to gauge their views on the year ahead. At press time on the eve of the 2009 holiday homestretch, with their hopes for a better sales outcome than 2008 looking modest at best, few saw an especially bright light shining by December. Instead, many settled in to make the appropriate adjustments for reduced demand.
"Given the circumstances we faced in holiday 2009, I'm not disappointed with our results," says Jean Giesmann, executive creative director for Stony Creek Brands, which goes to market with the Uno Alla Volta and Cooking Enthusiast catalogs and online brands. "Our '09 forecasts were more realistic, and demand was closer to plan than '08. We did our best to reduce costs wherever possible and, as a result, have a stronger bottom line on ?less demand."
As part of their adjustments to the new reality of lower sales volume and print's growing inefficiencies, most retailers, particularly those rooted in catalog or online, are modernizing their sales and marketing efforts this year. The still-challenging economy coupled with the greater expense of nondigital marketing has forced many to rely more heavily on e-commerce to close sales, Giesmann points out.
This strategy spans consumer and B-to-B markets. "We're shifting some of our traditional investment in mailing toward our web and outbound sales efforts; we're trying to maintain contacts with customers and prospects via cheaper methods," says Phil Minnix, president of MCM Electronics, a marketer and distributor of electronic components, 70 percent of whose business is focused on B-to-B. For MCM, he says that means fewer catalog pages, mailing more postcards, sending more emails and focusing on electronic catalog delivery, among other initiatives.
"Our approach will be to better profile and identify new customers and current customers that should receive outbound [telephone] calling efforts to capture more wallet share from our existing customers," Minnix says, noting that 11.5 percent of MCM's 110,000-plus customers drive 80 percent of its sales. "We want to find more of those customers that we can move up the chain by contacting them, understanding their needs better and ensuring that they know our value to them."