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Happy Solstice 21 December, 2008

Posted by Jay Ball in Uncategorized.
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In the headlong rush towards the Christmas break, it’s easy to forget that people have been marking this time of year for pretty much as long as there have been people. It’s the shortest day today – marked across millennia as the turning point when we begin looking forward to the future. Traditionally, this has been a time of optimism – longer days, shorter nights, the promise of better times to come.

Of course, just now, optimism is in pretty short supply around the world.

So what of the year to come? Well, it’s unlikely to be a wall-to-wall party. And even the supposed economic gurus really have very little idea of what might happen. But let’s not reach for the razor blades just yet.

The lessons from previous recessions (this will be my 3rd in the industry) are that those companies that continue to invest in marketing will come out of the downturn exponentially stronger (and do so for less overall cost). And, in a tough market, every company will need every single edge it can muster to win the war for a greater share of diminishing budgets.

Within this context, demand generation activities will come increasingly to the forefront. If the sell-out attendance of our recently co-sponsored Demand Generation Summit is anything to go by this is already happening. It will also be more important than ever for those in marketing to work hand in glove with those in sales (see Amanda Jobbins’ presentation at the Summit). Measurability and agility in the face of changing circumstances will be more crucial than ever.

There is of course speculation about whether demand generation is anything new or just a new term for something far older. Personally, I hope that the industry embraces demand generation in a wider sense than simply a series of disconnected short term activities designed to fill the sales funnel (aka traditional lead generation). Tactical activity is important, of course it is, but tactics alone can lead to a disjointed, piecemeal approach to acquiring and maintaining  customers over the long term.

Demand generation today is as much a philosophy as an activity. It’s about delivering ever changing, ever improving communications, interactions and experiences. It’s about using smart technology to automate and integrate these programmes wherever possible. Ultimately it’s about creating and sustaining momentum from prospect to sale and beyond.

What will 2009 bring? Search me. But it’ll be the businesses that adapt to the challenges (and re-adapt as they change) that are likely to be the winners come the inveitable upturn.

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