Central Illinois Business Magazine
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Archive                           June 2008


MARKETING SURVEY

Survey says: people matter most
in marketing strategy


By Paul E. Donohue
CIBM Contributor
Published: Jun. 2008

What did businesses surveyed in Champaign County say was most important to their success? 61 percent of businesses surveyed said having the right employees was most important to the success of their organizations, according to a phone survey performed by Research Survey Service. It contacted 100 businesses in Champaign County by phone. The response rate was 37 percent.

Without good people, no business strategy can succeed.

What puzzles me is the component businesses chose as least important from a list that included human resources, sales, strategic planning and marketing--37 percent of the businesses surveyed chose marketing from that list. Now, that doesn't necessarily suggest you don't think marketing is important. I think you do. But from the list presented, if forced to make a choice, businesses said marketing was least important to the success of their business.

Why?

"Maybe the responses were skewed," said Jeffrey Kurtz, an adjunct professor in the College of Business at the University of Illinois who reviewed the results of the study.

Kurtz teaches an MBA class where students work with small businesses on real world problems.

"Nine out of 12 case studies this semester are marketing related," he said. In the years he spent consulting business owners prior to teaching, marketing was the biggest challenge for the majority of small businesses, he said.

Here's another surprise. Branding is the most important element to the success of your marketing plan. That's what a majority of business respondents selected, 37 percent of the total, from a list that included a strategic plan, return on investment, external communication and internal communication. When you consider that the purpose of marketing is to find, attract, retain and grow customer relationships, how you measure that activity, in the form of return on investment, would seem most important to defining success.

But that's the fun part about market surveys. You rarely obtain definitive answers. Almost always, the answers lead to more questions. And that's good. It forces you to probe further and ask more questions until you discover true insight about the customers and market you are trying to serve.

-Paul E. Donohue is an independent sales, marketing and communications consultant with 25 years experience as a media and marketing executive. He can be reached at pdo@pauledonohue.com. He partnered with Research Survey Services to conduct this survey.

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Youth, et al

By Bridget Broihahn

The June/July CIB started out as a “Youth in Business” issue. However, when reporting ensues, oftentimes, it evolves into its own entity. My initial article of the popular Pens-to-Lens Competition evolved as Brett Hays shared the big announcement that Shatterglass Studios had for our area. I was star struck when I realized that Champaign County may just be the next “Hollywood Chambana,” or as Habeeb Habeeb put it: “...a film oasis in the Midwest.” How exciting for our area, not only because it’s the art of filmmaking that is involved, but, also because it’s the opportunity for economic development right here in Champaign County. I cannot think of a better place.

Economic development is certainly the key to prosperity in a community, and HL Precision Manufacturing, Inc., Champaign has the right idea when it comes to students and careers. They teamed up with Parkland College and Unit 4 Schools to offer two students a tuition free opportunity to earn dual credit, earn an internship and a career.

I enjoyed my talk with Laura Bliell of Enterpriseworks. She mirrored the enthusiasm and energy that is apparent at the UI award winning research park. Its incubator, Enterpriseworks, employs some 500 students each year, enabling them to research, learn and teach us new things, too.

As always, I enjoyed the comments by Fred Giertz. His commentary about infrastructure was downright biblical. Plus, if you do not crack a smile from Allen Howie’s comments regarding the millennials, I will be surprised.

Good business, everyone!

Bridget Broihahn is editor of Central Illinois Business magazine. She can be reached at 217-351-5695 or bbroihahn@news-gazette.com.