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Marketing—Marketing keeps up with changing trends

As the old saying goes, “The one thing that remains constant is change.”

That certainly holds true in the day-to-day world of marketing and promotions. Flexibility and the ability to “roll with the punches” , these are two key attributes needed to succeed in marketing and promotions.

For many “seasoned” professionals, the ever-changing aspect of the marketing business is what keeps them going year after year. There is always a new challenge to conquer, and a new client with new products to serve. Marketing people call this fun, and the only thing that beats fun, is more fun.

During the past 15 years, the industry has changed in many ways. Companies have come and gone. Others have merged, or have been acquired. Some still exist, yet under different names and they offer different services. The improved economy in the last few years also enticed many people to set up small shops of their own.

Just think, in 1985, many businesses were only beginning to use computers. E-mail and the Internet were yet to be part of the mix. And how many of you had a “Portaller” portable phone that weighed about 10 pounds? The batteries alone for those phones were bigger than most entire cell phones today.

In the 1980s, using recycled paper was innovative. It was often associated with the more unique, creative promotional pieces that required larger budgets. Today, recycling and the use of those recycled products is commonplace in our business.

More and more companies understand the need to be “environmentally friendly,” and are promoting themselves that way.

– County Grows

Along With PR

San Diego County has also grown in population size and diversity, offering a plethora of new audiences to target with campaigns. Ethnicity has played a larger role in marketing in the past five years. Today, there are firms that specialize in reaching out to the Latino community.

In terms of the business environment and the type of clients that existed more than a decade ago, most of the “bread and butter” clients for promotional firms were defense-oriented, developers or banks. Most of the work was in collateral materials (brochures and ads) for the real estate industry.

The number and type of vehicles for our messages has burgeoned, too. News has seen a dramatic shift in the past 15 years. Cable TV certainly wasn’t as widespread, and there were only a handful of news stations. Today, we have 24-hour news channels, Web links and Web sites that have opened up the international market.

From 1991 to 1995, San Diego endured one of its most profound recessions ever. This period of economic hardship devastated many marketing firms, especially the ones that specialized in a narrowly focused areas. Those that planned wisely and diversified their client base survived.

The new marketing service was helping clients find new market segments in a shrinking, more competitive marketplace.

The region’s economy slowly came off of life support with the emergence of software, high-tech or biotech firms that needed marketing assistance.

Those marketing firms offering a variety of services, especially government relations expertise, continued to blossom in the ’90s. A select few even expanded with offices in Sacramento.

Today, government relations is a significant part of many successful marketing plans. Over the years, clients have learned that brochures and ads were not enough, and that expanding their horizons to include community and government relations is important.

Although a great deal has changed in the world of marketing and promotions, this is still the most fun, creative, strategic and rewarding career to have.

The next decade holds great promise for this industry. What new creative minds will emerge? Who will chart new courses? What fun campaigns will we see? What new companies will locate here? How will we capture the Internet to target audiences and customize the delivery of messages, as well as the return on investment for clients? Will Internet advertising and E-mail-focused promotions cause fee-based advertising to be unnecessary?

Our new economy, fast-paced and bold, remembers recent recessions. It demands both finance and marketing departments, and their agencies, be prudent so that our economic strength and profitability continues.

The world of marketing and promotions will continue to embrace these changes, and will undoubtedly grow stronger and more important to the success of any business each year.

Flannery is president of The Flannery Group in San Diego.

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