In a tough economy focussing on existing customers is a fundamental, says Stefan Buerki, the marketing manager of one of New Zealand’s largest technology exporters.

As a marketer competing against big players across all the major markets in the world, Stefan is well placed to offer advice to other Kiwi technology exporters. “My advice is to focus your activities on your target segments and customers - the shotgun approach does not work. Ensure that you can clearly define what you do for your customers. Use the tools and procedures which are successful and drop the ones which are not valued by your customers.”

Stefan is marketing manager of the New Zealand telecommunications business unit of Eaton’s Power Quality Division, part of US-based $US15.4 billion industrial conglomerate Eaton Corporation.

In their market, the supply of backup power management systems to telecommunications companies, Eaton is optimistic. “Mobile network penetration and broadband deployments are the main drivers for investments into communications networks, and our products are sold as part of such investments. Overall, we have not seen a slow down in demand for our products and services.”

Stefan says their focus is staying competitive in their core markets. “We have not drastically changed our business strategy because of the global economic crisis. It is important to balance your efforts between your existing customer base and potential new customers.”

Part of this is being careful about marketing spend in this sort of environment. “Marketing is an easy target to cut costs in a business. Focus your marketing activities on your target markets or target customers with real growth potential. Make sure the remaining marketing money spent is strongly linked to your overall business goals.”

A key place to spend is on your relationships with existing customers. “We use different methods to capture the voice of the customers, and customer satisfaction remains a key measure for our business.

“A recent survey revealed that our customers would like more product training so it is a key focus for us in 2009. We will run additional product training in 2009 to ensure that people using our products have the knowledge to operate and maintain them to their satisfaction, and we will use different methods to roll-out the training like on-line courses and web meetings with instructors.”

Eaton won’t be sacrificing product development either. “I don’t have any evidence that the life cycle of our products has changed because of the global crisis, nor do our competitors slow down their R&D investments. New product development will remain a strong part of our business strategy going forward.”

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