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Report indicates marketing budgets and staff size are stabilizing, although one out of three companies are not effectively utilizing marketing functions to impact business goals.

AUSTIN, TX, September 9, 2002 – According to new research from VisionEdge Marketing, Inc., an Austin, Texas-based strategic marketing consulting firm, a greater number of companies are focusing on their existing customer base, rather than taking their products into new markets. In its semi-annual survey, Business Readiness Report: July-December, 2002, VisionEdge Marketing reports that 39 percent of respondents said they were focusing on increasing sales from existing customers; during the first half of the year only 9.5 percent of respondents gave this answer.

During July and August, VisionEdge Marketing conducted an online survey to examine how companies were aligning sales and marketing initiatives with overall business objectives; these results were then compared to the survey VisionEdge Marketing conducted for the first half of the year. Findings also showed that sales cycles continue to lengthen, and marketing budgets and staff size are beginning to stabilize, although many companies are working without an approved market budget and plan. Report highlights include:

  • As with the first half of the year, respondents said that a long sales cycle was the number one obstacle in achieving their company’s sales goals for 2002. However, the concern grew eight percentage points since February. The second biggest obstacle was insufficient budget, which remained constant from the first half of 2002.
  • Fifty-three percent of the companies surveyed said their sales lead pipeline was insufficient to achieve sales goals in the July-December period. Of those, 45 percent did not have an approved marketing plan or budget for the second half of the year, clearly indicating that in these companies the marketing function is not being used efficiently or effectively to help achieve business goals.
  • Those companies with approved budgets were relying on more traditional marketing methods, such as cold calling, public relations, and trade shows to generate sales leads. These methods generally take longer to produce qualified leads. With most companies reporting their sales cycle is greater than four months, any leads generated now will likely not turn into revenue until 2003.

“After 12-18 months of staff and budget cuts, we’re now seeing companies faced with dry sales lead pipelines, lengthening sales cycles and no marketing plans in place to help correct the situation,” said Laura Patterson, president, VisionEdge Marketing. “For these companies the remainder of 2002 looks grim. However, other companies have stabilized their marketing cutbacks and have marketing plans in place to focus corporate resources on meeting the needs of their existing customer-base. These companies appear better prepared to end 2002 on a high note.”

The Business Readiness Report: July-December, 2002 is a semi-annual survey conducted by VEM on how businesses utilize marketing to move the company forward, and what obstacles companies are facing for achieving business results and revenue goals. The survey was distributed to 400 companies primarily in Texas, and had a 20 percent response rate from 15 different industry categories. Forty-three percent of the respondent companies have annual revenues greater than $5 million. Fifty-eight percent of the respondents were primarily responsible for their company’s sales or marketing functions, and 61 percent held titles of director level or above. The report also includes recommendations on how companies can overcome some of these obstacles in order to meet revenue targets.

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