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Marketing executives are going back to basics this year, putting renewed focus on satisfying and retaining customers and investing in research and insights, but they are “sick” of hearing about Web 2.0, according to a survey from Anderson Analytics conducted for the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG).

The second annual Top Marketing Trends survey of MENG members examined the top marketing concepts, buzzwords, global areas of opportunity and targeted customer demographics for 2009, as well as the books and thought leaders that marketers look to for inspiration and growth opportunity.

The economy played a significant role in this year’s survey as more marketers expressed concern on how a recession would impact priorities moving forward. Half of executives believe their marketing budgets will decrease in 2009, but 56% indicated their staffing plans will either stay the same or increase.

The Top Five Trends:

#1. Insight and Innovation Key: Insight and innovation are viewed as keys to combat down economic and business cycles. Some 72% of respondents indicated that innovation efforts would stay the same or increase, while 39% say their use of market research will increase in the next year. This is significant given that most marketing experts agree it’s imperative to innovate and mine insights during a recession, Anderson Analytics said.

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#2. Customers at Top of List: Basic customer satisfaction and customer retention remained the top two concepts of interest to marketers, followed by marketing ROI, brand loyalty and segmentation. Together, these represent a move back to the core principles of marketing, Anderson Analytics said.

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Of the 62 identified marketing concepts, faith-based marketing, six sigma, game theory, anti-Americanism and immigration were viewed as the least important.

#3. Green Marketing and Global Warming Lose Importance: The issue of global warming showed the largest decrease in importance (dropping 14 places in the rankings), while green marketing showed a statistically significant 5% drop.

#4. Marketers “Sick” of Web 2.0: Twice as many marketers are “sick” of hearing about Web 2.0 and related buzzwords such as “blogs” and “social networking” compared with last year’s survey.

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However, marketers still admit they don’t know enough about it. This was evident in results from a November 2008 MENG social media study showing 67% of executive marketers consider themselves beginners when it comes to using social media for marketing purposes.

#5.? Most Opportunity in China and among Boomers: China ranks as the #1 greatest area of opportunity (53%) for marketers with international responsibility, while India is a distant second with votes from 17% of respondents.

In terms of the best opportunity for customer targeting, marketing execs also still feel that Boomers hold the most promise. However, the perceived importance of Generation X and Generation Y grew significantly compared with 2008 survey results.

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Top Marketing Books & Resources

The main sources of marketing inspiration remained nearly the same this year as last, the survey found. Good to Great remained the most widely read and most recommended book. However, several new books appeared on the reading list this year including: Groundswell, Hot Flat and Crowded, The Black Swan, Predictably Irrational, Mavericks at Work, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, The Art of the Start, Purple Cow, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, and Our Iceberg is Melting.

The number-one business Guru last year, Seth Godin, remained the favorite marketing guru for 2009, according to the survey. However, Warren Buffet and Malcolm Gladwell increased significantly in popularity and now occupy the #2 and #3 spots on the list, respectively. Jim Stengel also made the Marketing Guru list for the first time this year.

“This year we saw an increase in importance in several areas, not just ‘customer satisfaction’ and ‘retention,'” said Tom H.C. Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Analytics. “There were also significant increases in the importance of marketing concepts such as ‘CRM,’ ‘data mining’, and? ‘leading through analytics.’ That together with interest in books like The Black Swan and optimism on market research budgets signals marketing executives realize that in a down economy, it’s even more important to utilize information efficiently and keep the customers you have.”

About the survey: Anderson Analytics conducted the Marketing Trends 2009 Survey among 643 current MENG members between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2, 2008. Anderson Analytics used text-mining software to code open-ended/free form text answers to questions in order to understand what issues were top-of-mind.

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