As many catalog/multichannel B-to-B and B-to-C marketers do their annual planning and budgeting for 2009 right about now, I suspect many are having a difficult time given the events of the past six months. Who really knows what 2009 will bring?
One thing to focus on during your planning process is how you'll increase productivity, no matter what your function or position is. As a B-to-B catalog marketer, consider the "outputs" (e.g., sales, new customers, retained customers, account penetration, others) of your area of responsibility and know your "inputs" (ad spend, payroll costs, etc.). Plan to increase your productivity 5 percent or more each year.
Easy to say, harder to do, but maybe these six tips will help you reach that goal of 5 percent:
- Find ways to apply technology to eliminate man-hours. There's a great deal of new software out there for the Web, catalog production, call centers and CRM that can impact your work processes. Look for technology specifically designed for direct marketers with embedded operating intelligence.
- Search for ways to maintain or increase customer contacts by phone or mail. Develop a less costly mail piece for your online buyers, for example, or use e-mail or auto voice mail technology to extend the reach of a telephone account rep.
- Meet with your vendors to solicit their ideas. Better still, give them the mandate of increasing their productivity 5 percent each year. It works best when it's a continuous process, not just a year-end event.
- Develop a detailed list of things you spend your time on, and eliminate the bottom 20 percent of activities that have little or no return.
- Meet with your staffers, and enroll them in the process. Be ready for blunt feedback on how your business needs to change to realize higher productivity.
- Cut back on e-mails and meetings. I recently heard of one company placing limits on the number of e-mails any one user could send each week. Another company holds meetings standing up to make sure they're short and to the point.
Given what we've experienced in the last three months, I'd also advise that in this upcoming year you pay particular attention to the tolerances and flexibility of your annual plan. Given the uncertainties ahead, you'll probably need a set of contingency plans for 2009.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at email@example.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.