A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Charlotte 2010 Marketing Forecast

January 13th, 2010

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending the “Charlotte Region’s 2010 Marketing Forecast”.  It was held at a hotel in Charlotte and was sponsored by several local organizations, including the AAFC, BMA, CAMA, CDMA, CIMA, IABC, and PRSA.

The panelists were:

  • Jennifer Appleby, President & CEO of Wray Ward
  • Ronnie Bryant, President & CEO of Charlotte Regional Partnerships
  • Michael Burch, VP of marketing at Speedway Motorsports Inc
  • Sara Garces, Owner & CEO of Red F Marketing
  • Craig Nadler, VP Marketing for the Carolinas, AT&T Mobility
  • * Ritch Allison, Partner at Bain & Company, Atllant

* = Moderator

Each local association introduced their organization and one of the panelists.  So the introductions alone are taking about a half hour. 

I had the pleasure of sitting at the same table with a couple people from Lyerly Agency.  (Good people.)

We’re starting with some overview comments by each panelist…

JA – She is energized by the good turnout.  (I am loosely counting about 200 attendees here.)  She says that this past year we have never worked so hard to make so little money.  Everyone seems to agree.  She is excited about the new tools available and feels 2010 will be about elevating to a new level of creativity and using the new tools.  “New Media” is no longer new.

RB – He markets the local area to businesses nationally and internationally looking to move here.

MB – He explains that a local company recently invested in a local marketing company.  They spent $40K and made $400K.  So marketing is working.

SG & CN – Added other positive comments.

RA – (Moderator) Showed some slides about the current economy.  Here are some highlights… 

This is the first time we have had a GLOBAL economic problem.  Global GDP growth is negative.  That will not completely get back to normal until 2011. 

Household income growth will remain weak for another year.  Unemployment was huge in the last 18 months.  This first quarter is showing improvement but it will take several years to recover.

This year will have very slow growth.  Outside capital will be difficult to obtain.

The opportunities?  Growth tends to be slower, but stable.  Like curves on a racetrack, economic turbulance creates more opportunities for passing others.  Similar to racing, slowing down into the curve sets up the best opportunity to accelerate out of the curve.

His advice? 

  • Stay on track
  • Anticipate unpredictable curves
  • Pass with prudence
  • Tune the innovation engine
  • Strenthen teaming skills
  • Mobilize a winning crew

More specifically, regarding marketing…

  • Build cross platform campaigns
  • Align spend with strategy and target customers
  • Set very clear marketing objectives
  • Continue to innovate and try new approaches to reaching your customer
  • Measure effectiveness and invest where returns are highest
  • Establish marketing based on ROI

Now we turn back to the panelists.

What about Charlotte, specifically?  RB says there is a world of difference here in Charlote.  We have never in this region stopped having announcements of businesses moving here.  This region is solid.  The physical aspects of the benefits of this area did not change in the down economy.  The weather is great.  We are centrally located to the rest of the country.  We have the 9th busiest airport in this country.

JA says there is a lot of mommentum in moving to Charlotte and that is getting national publicity.  It is getting easier to recruit creative individuals.

MB says out of chaos comes opportunity and the current situation challenges us.

How have consumers changed?  CN (from AT&T) says we have seen that deep discounts are now the norm, especially in holiday season spending.  People also spend at the very last minute.  People are looking more toward integrated devices like iPhones.  Data minutes are getting much larger than voice minutes.  Mobile is gaining stregth over land lines.

SG says consumers have drastically changed their mobile phone behavior.  It is the new touchpoint from a marketing standpoint.  You NEED to be thinking about how you can reach people on their mobile devices.  The phone is becoming the TV and Computer.  (AMEN!  You said it.  I agree 100%.  We’ve heard it before, but this year really is the year of the mobile phone computer.)

She adds that hispanics are a consumer group that is best reached via mobile.  Other traditional pieces are important as well.

MB adds that people are looking for value.  Sports fans in particular are still responding and spending, but they want the best value.  Many people wait until the weather comes out before buying.  They need to incentivise those that buy early.  There are still dollars to be had.  But you have to give deals to the early buyers and allow buyers to purchase at the last minute.

JA adds that the consumers are changing the rules.  They DEMAND value.  They determine how they want to be communicated to, not the marketer.

RB says that decisions by consumers are determined by cost now more than ever.  So businesses must cut costs and provide value.

How do you communicate value?  How does it change your marketing message?  MB says he spends time educating consumers.  As marketers, our responsibility is educating the consumer.  Best value is not lowest cost.  We spend time educating people and showing how we are different and not just a commodity.  We spend a lot of time on that.

SG says her businesses are spending their marketing dollars educating consumers.  Consumers expect that.  They know they can compare companies.  They don’t have to leave their home, just use Google.  At the end of the day, all businesses want to know the ROI from their agency.

What about media?  What is your view of Social Media?  JA says it is a revolution.  It is here to stay.  It will always be part of the marketing mix.  Services like Twitter will lead, but may die out.  Customers are ringing the phone off the hook to determine how to use it.

Social media is the next evolution of word of mouth.  It used to be that experiences were shared with their family and friends.  Now they share with the global economy.  Social media is somewhat sexy to marketers, but it really is here to stay.  Companies need to embrace it.  Don’t just dip your toe in it.  That will be a Pandora’s box.  You need to do it full force and be committed to it.

MB says that social media is just tools to have dialogue with customers.  Don’t be cheesy.  Be meaningful.  At some time that relationship will monetize itself.  It may not directly monetize and provide ROI.

JA says the ability to listen is fantastic.  She says:  Our Social Media expert at Wray Ward calls it “Word of Mouse”.  (Hey Brandon Uttley, that’s MY LINE!!  You got that from ME!)  She adds that companies are expected to respond.  So if you get involved, be prepared to listen and reply.

[HAHA!!  Scott Harrington just took a picture of me blogging and posted it.]

JA is being asked which companies use Social media effectively?  Is B2C the only businesses that it works in?  She’s giving good answers.  She says her customers are asking for it.  She is clearly very proud of her “social media expert”.  Go Brandon!

MB chimes in.  He admits that he is a dinosaur, but is not convinced that Social media is worth the time.  (Don’t laugh.  He’s got a point there.)

SG says social media is good but (somewhat mockingly) we are not seeing any “VP of Facebook and Twitter” titles yet.  CN says that if you do it, you get powerful feedback.  The entire organization needs to be on board.  She also says that highly regulated companies really need to be careful with what they say online on social media. 

JA adds that many businesses are afraid to give consumers that opportunity to take over their brand.  It is a tough thing to do for many.

What about new media.  Is print dead?  CN says print is not dead – yet.  It needs to evolve or it may go that way.  The Internet changes what media needs to be.  MB says print may be dead but reading is not.  (That sounds obvious, but it’s a good point.)

That seems to be the end of it all.  Thanks to all the panelists and organizations that sponsored it.  Very nice program.