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Branding – the buzz in ICT marketing

MARKETING professionals in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry have nominated brand positioning as their primary marketing challenge in 2006. Results from the Australian Information Industry Association’s (AIIA) first marketing benchmarking survey indicated a strongly competitive market, but one in which economic outlook and market restrictions were not obstacles to gaining market share. Instead, 30 per cent of survey respondents nominated brand positioning as their primary marketing challenge this year, with 52 per cent placing branding on their list of top three challenges, followed by increased competition and lead management (both 34 per cent). These challenges were consistent across small, medium and large organisations. AIIA general manager-marketing and business services, Kathryn Porritt, said the survey reinforced the general feeling that there was little market resistance to ICT in general, but much marketing effort was spent on encouraging the customer to “buy from us”. “Today, branding is not simply the focus of marketing and PR initiatives, but an integrated part of an ICT enterprise’s business strategy, customer relationship, management focus and employee retention strategy,” Ms Porritt said. “These survey results reflect the emphasis that ICT companies are placing on branding. “Maturing and sophisticated buyers, along with technology convergence, are fostering a highly competitive environment. “Responses indicate that there is plenty of ICT business out there, but that companies are in fierce competition for customer attention. As the buoyant economy continues to boost ICT growth, it’s more a matter of which company can best position their product or service in the customer’s mind and turn that positioning into sales.” In particular, the survey revealed that ICT marketing was focused on direct contact with the market, compared with other sectors in the economy, with events, trade shows and corporate hospitality often attracting 15 per cent or more of a single budget. “While marketers in many other industries assign a significant percentage of marketing expenditure to advertising, ICT marketers spend more of their marketing budgets on personal relationship building,” Ms Porritt said. Tricia Deasy from Australian Survey Research, the research company that helped design the benchmarking study, said the most important objectives for most companies were customer retention and acquisition, increasing market share and measuring market results. “This indicates a strongly competitive market where ICT companies are working with current products and an existing customer base, rather than focusing on developing new products or markets,” Ms Deasy said. The marketing benchmarking survey is AIIA’s first review of the Australian ICT industry’s marketing functions. Its findings were based on information from AIIA member organisations across the breadth of the industry, with survey participants from a wide cross-section of organisations in terms of size, number of employees, sub-industry and revenue. The annual survey will be used by AIIA member companies to develop marketing strategies and benchmark their activities against best practice in the industry. The next survey will be released in October 2006. “We are confident that AIIA’s marketing benchmarking survey will become an invaluable tool for ICT marketers from both small and large companies,” Ms Porritt said. “It outlines the trends for the industry as a whole and in segments to ensure marketers have access to the most relevant data for budgets, up-selling the marketing function and for marketing planning activities.” Western Australian initiative Small to medium enterprises in Western Australia’s ICT industry are challenged not by a lack of drive, talent, ideas or products, but by the daunting task of marketing their company, products and services in an increasingly competitive market, according to AIIA WA executive officer Sue Williams. SMEs face different marketing challenges, so AIIA WA has designed a workshop to address the needs of smaller companies in the ICT industry. Details: http://www.aiia.com.au/i-cms.isp?page=430

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