Friday, May 30, 2008

Even CPAs Agree: Marketing Investments Still Make Good Business Sense

CPAs can be very stingy people—even more so when the economic seas are churning, as they are now.

But even some of the most conservative accountants recognize that now isn’t the time to shut down marketing efforts. Here’s an article from a firm called Vrakas/Blum suggesting that this is a critical time to invest in your future through marketing.

Why? For the same reason it’s good to invest in quality stocks when the market is down: The bull will be back, and you’ll be able to take advantage. Right now, while many of your competitors are cutting back on marketing, it’s a great opportunity for you to gain an edge. When the economy picks up again, you’ll be better positioned to pounce on new business.

Now, we don’t recommend throwing more money around indiscriminately (although we’d sure benefit from that, if you insist). You should invest as wisely as possible. The Vrakas/Blum article offers four tips to approach marketing in a tough economy. (Never mind that the author actually promises six suggestions.)

For further reading, you can review a similarly helpful post we offered back in February with five tips on marketing during the downturn.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ramp up Your Customer Retention Efforts

Is customer service dead? You’d better hope not.

Customer service is, of course, the key to satisfied customers. Scratch that—not just satisfied, but loyal customers.

Even in bullish economic times, customer retention costs a lot less than customer acquisition. And in the current iffy economy, retention is even more important.

But many B2B marketers remain more focused on attracting new customers, according to a new report.

The Chief Marketing Officer Council’s study, highlighted in BtoB Magazine, found that only one-third of global marketers have strategies in place to win back dormant or lost customers, and only half have strategies to further profit from key account relationships.

That’s too bad, because a host of new media and technologies offer us all kinds of fresh opportunities to understand, inform and interact with customers. For example, Scheibel Halaska works with several clients on email newsletters aimed at keeping customers in the loop.

Current customers, after all, are your most crucial target audience. Sure, you’ve got to be out there selling. But it’s a whole lot easier to sell to the folks who are already sold on your company.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Labor Shortage Is a Perception Problem

Manufacturers, Trade Groups, Schools Must Work Together
A staff editorial in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls attention to a pressing issue for manufacturers and other B2B companies: the skilled labor shortage.

It’s a topic we’ve discussed here before—and one that, right now, several of our clients are taking a leadership role in addressing. They’re collaborating with technical schools and colleges, offering scholarships and internships, sponsoring recruitment fairs and more. In the interest of your company’s future, you may want to follow suit.

The baby boomers’ retirement is often cited as one of the leading causes of the intensifying skilled labor shortage. And rightfully so. But the real problem isn’t necessarily that there aren’t enough workers out there to replace them; no, for manufacturers in particular, the challenge is that potential workers are avoiding manufacturing careers.

Why? Because hey don’t think it’s a sophisticated path. Their parents have told them the jobs don’t pay well. And they’ve heard that all the manufacturing jobs are moving overseas.

These are all misperceptions. The truth is that manufacturing positions today often are at the forefront of innovation.

Clearly, manufacturers face a significant public relations challenge that must be solved promptly. Fortunately, two upcoming events in Milwaukee may help dispel some of the myths. ANTEC and the Plastics Encounter, set for May 4-6, will showcase the latest developments in high-tech manufacturing, helping advance current workers skills and improve recruitment of new workers.

We agree with the JS editorial: Manufacturers, educational institutions and trade organizations must work together more to help attract and retain workers. ANTEC and Plastics Encounter are two fine examples of such initiatives. Now it’s time for your company to join the cause.