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IT Vendors Enter the Digital Marketing Era

In its upcoming report on IT vendor marketing and sales investment, and key performance indicators (KPIs), IDC's Executive Advisory Group forecasts a 4 percent increase for the average marketing budget and a 7.9 percent increase for the average sales budget in 2008.

These budget increases are the lowest that IDC has forecast in the past four years and will place further pressure on the vendor marketing and sales functions for cost control and productivity increases. Clearly, this is no time for business-as-usual thinking.

"Marketers should be prepared to withstand a budget reduction while still being able to keep the core elements of the marketing business model in place and productive," said Michael Gerard, vice president of research for the CMO Advisory Practice and Executive Advisory Group at IDC.

"Those technology marketers that continue improving their operations excellence coupled with efficiency of execution will be in a good position to weather this storm."

"We are advising our clients to continue improving alignment between marketing and sales, in particular focusing everyone's efforts back to the customer," said Lee Levitt, program director for the Sales Advisory Practice of IDC.

"Most marketing and sales team's assets and processes are out of sync with the needs of their buyer's requirements -- and those companies that succeed at changing this trend will capture share in this challenging market. We have found increased dissatisfaction regarding the relationship between marketing and sales, and have specific recommendations to both turn that trend around and, specifically, to improve marketing and sales productivity."

However, I believe that while small increases in productivity may still be possible by tweaking existing methods and associated processes, the real quantum-leap gains will only go to those who are bold enough to try something totally different.

According to the latest market studies from the CMO Council, Forrester Research and others, the quest to find a best-fit business technology solution provider most often starts with a keyword search on Google.

That said, you would think that marketers are shifting their limited budgets to follow this trend. Again, research indicates this is typically not the case. In fact, most IT vendors likely still use either direct mail, telephone cold-calling, and other methods that have proven to be ineffective.

But, where there is widespread procrastination -- to cross the chasm and learn how to embrace online marketing -- there's also opportunity for those who dare to take the path less traveled. The Digital Marketing Era is upon us. It's the perfect time to break free from the crowd of lazy or inept marketers.

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