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The Idiots Guide to Acquiring New Customers


According to Heidrick & Struggles, the legacy high-priced executive search firm, the primary focus for mainstream C-level executives in 2009 is acquiring new customers, increasing retention and improving their lifetime value -- in that order.

Eighty-eight percent of the executives surveyed said acquiring new customers was important, and 87 percent said the same about customer retention. Least important on their list of priorities were improving marketing's impact on shareholder value, retaining talent and expanding to new geographies.

Apparently eMarketer believes that this makes sense in current economic conditions -- if a business is struggling, further development gets pushed to the back burner. Talent is easy to come by when unemployment is high, and if sales increase, shareholder value will naturally follow.

However, they wonder if the lingering question is, how to increase sales in this environment? Please, hold the laughter. This is serious stuff.

Most significant to senior executives was optimizing the efficiency of the marketing mix across the business (including digital marketing), followed by responding more rapidly to growth opportunities and improving the consistency of marketing and sales communications.

Few respondents were "satisfied" with their own company's effectiveness. But, that had nothing to do with their lack of talent. Only 15 percent of C-level execs were "very satisfied" with their optimization of the marketing mix, 14 percent with the speed of their response to growth opportunities and 11 percent with their ad efficiency in online media.

When it came to selecting which tactics were key in achieving growth objectives, research and analysis on return on marketing investment (ROMI) topped the executive's list.

Next was Web analytics. Third came customer relationship management tools such as Salesforce.com, followed by customer acquisition tools such as search engine optimization (SEO).

According to chief executives surveyed, getting new customers in a downturn might not be about working harder -- so much as getting smarter. Again, smart is a relative term, when you're a CEO with an apparent lack of marketing talent within your organization.

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