MARKETING Instant Results – Engaging marketing

Organisations are adopting flexible approach to managing customer communications in real time, learning as they go and adapting plans in response to customer feedback. So-called “new” communications technologies such as email, text messaging and online advertising have come of age. And they’re changing the way companies market to their consumers.
The age of meticulously pre-planned campaigns is over, at least in the implementation stage. The high responsiveness and two-way nature of email and text means the marketing department knows how effective an offer is within hours, if not minutes, of campaign going out.
But the sheer speed of development and plethora of new terms can be confusing. Here’s guide to seven key terms and some of the latest thinking surrounding them.

Email
Despite email’s reputation suffering from the onslaught of spam worldwide, it is still proving very effective. And it’s most effective when it’s personalised. Advertising campaigns such as the much-touted ‘Purina 30-day Challenge’ – which produced stellar sales results for Nestlé Purina Petcare – and the more recent ‘Get Sponsored By Coruba’ campaign use email in its most potent form.
Get Sponsored by Coruba arose when Coruba’s ad agency WRC realised that traditional television advertising was not reaching the target audience effectively. The Get Sponsored campaign uses viral marketing to get new and existing customers engaged in finding the unsung heroes of Kiwi culture – the best partiers.
While the campaign primarily uses email to get its message across, the focus is clearly on the experience, not on the medium.

Text messaging
Tim Corbett, social marketing consultant at advertising agency FCB, is finishing his PhD in the use of SMS messages or text to help people stop smoking. For the cash-strapped public health sector, mobile marketing has proven not only relatively inexpensive but also powerfully effective at engaging target audiences.
Corbett warns any marketer considering the use of technology to take three steps back first and ask, “what’s the objective?”
The ‘STOMP’ (STOp smoking by Mobile Phone) campaign targeted cellphone users aged 16 or over who smoked daily and wanted to give up. The campaign proved very successful because of the personal nature of the communication, which made the quit smoking messages more relevant than mass media messages.
In other campaigns such as ‘txt2taste’, SMS messages work alongside email to provide seamless customer experience. The txt2taste campaign, developed by Publicis Dialog for the Maggi brand, plays to the strengths of SMS – instant and convenient – to make product sampling powerful direct marketing campaign.
Txt2taste has been so successful that Publicis Dialog has rolled out separate company called txt2 so it can use the same format for other product sampling exercises – much the same way as Buchanan Group’s Brand Power does branding advertising.
Publicis Dialog general manager Simon Morgan says before long the dividing line between mobile and web will no longer be there, as more sophisticated handsets and services come on the market.
Corbett’s colleague at FCB, account director Mel Gaskin, draws on her experience with SMS campaigns in the United Kingdom to demonstrate the flexible campaign management style needed with the new technology. She cites the example of Guinness, which sifted through its customer data on one exceedingly hot day, sent message to its opt-in database and told customers where their nearest pub was. “Enjoy cold Guinness,” said the message.
“[SMS] is leading to shorter development timeframes becoming part of the process,” says Gaskin. “We’re also looking at smaller customers audiences and quicker response times.”
Corbett agrees that smaller databases can be more effective: “A well-qualified database of thousand is better than bigger, less qualified database.”

3G
Both of New Zealand’s mobile network providers now have 3G or third generation services. This is the mobile equivalent of broadband internet, allowing people to watch video, play games, and send and receive emails, among other things.
Gaskin says even in the United Kingdom where 3G has been around for some time, it is evolving slowly. “There’s no reason to believe customers will rush out and get [a 3G phone],” she says. “They need lot of information about what they can do with their phone.”
Education campaigns have been coming thick and fast from Telecom, providing opportunities for phone users to test the possibilities of 3G. The Rubbish Film Festival put the initiative in consumer’s hands, inviting them to create 20-second film on their 3G mobile. But to date only network providers have been using 3G to market products or services – the product and service being 3G itself.
That’s not to say that 3G won’t provide great marketing opportunities, just that it’s early days yet. Geoffrey Handley, director sales and marketing for The Hyperfactory, is in touch with the 3G-savvy Hong Kong mobile market. He says that marketers in Hong Kong are using 3G for the same purpose as SMS and email – to build involvement and relationship with the brand.
“McDonald’s in Hong Kong celebrated its 30th anniversary by setting up special channel on Hutchison’s 3G channel,” explains Handley, referring to video-by-phone service available on 3G phones. The anniversary celebration channel included tv commercials, branded games such as Tetris, virtual slot machine and special offers.
Handley points out that, 3G or not, mobile marketing will never replace other forms of marketing, but rather complement them. “We’re always going to need above-the-line strategies,” he says.

Games
Video games are the new movies. For example, the game Halo 2 had larger opening weekend than any movie in history. And just as product placement has made its way into movies, it’s making its way into games.
Of course, product placement in game that will travel around the world is most often looked after by head offices in the United States, where many game developers are based. But local companies are doing the next best thing – developing their own games.
Often this is done through sponsorship, the most enduring recent example being the Virtual Super 12 and Virtual NPC. Sharon Henderson, general manager of Aim Proximity, the advertising and direct marketing agency that developed those two games, says they’re an example of leveraging sponsorships through involvement.

Blogs
Another piece of emerging technology is blogs, short for weblogs. Blogs are essentially online diaries which everyone can see, and are being used by everyone from teenagers to CEOs to journalists. Business blogs have made big headlines in the United States as both an external and internal marketing tool. New Zealand marketers have been slow to pick up blogging, with House of Travel’s Hot Blog http://blog.houseoftravel.co.nz being notable exception.
The Hot Blog, facilitated by web development agency NetConcepts, puts the virtual microphone in front of House of Travel employees so they can speak with an authentic voice about their travels.
Another blog, the NetGuide award-winning idolblog.com, was not initiated by the brand but instead as vehicle for fans of NZ Idol by web developer cre-8d design. Which brings up another point about blogs – they’re very easy to set up. If you don’t, your customers might.
In fact the power of blogs caused serious trouble for one lock manufacturer in the United States; trouble that could have been avoided with responsive customer service. In September 2004 customer of Kryptonite Locks discovered he could pick his bike lock with Bic pen. He complained, but got no response, so he blogged about it.
Fortune magazine’s January 10, 2005 issue has graph of the number of people who heard about how easy it was to break Kryptonite lock through the resulting media frenzy as result of one blog post. After 10 days, the company was forced to announce free product exchang

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