When a company like PepsiCo breaks its tradition by skipping $3million Super Bowl ads for the first time in more than 20 years in favor of a CRM program, you know a major shift is occurring. We saw another sign of this turning point in 2009 when another blue-chip marketer, Ford Motor Co., began moving from long standing TV branding campaigns to embracing social media and online communities to sell products and stimulate loyalty. Direct marketing is now the centerpiece of all advertising.
Direct marketers have known for years that direct and digital need to be the core of any smart marketing strategy. However, it has only been in about the past 6 months that major advertisers are converting fully to direct. The economic downturn has, no doubt, escalated this trend as more and more companies look for lower cost marketing efforts. Furthermore, in an age of Facebook, Twitter and mobile devices, customers are more connected than ever, and have access to a host of real-time tools that put them in control.
For example, Google Product Search incorporated bar-code scanning for it’s new Android mobile phones. This enables shoppers to scan a barcode and get a list of local retailers that carry the item, as well as, how much the item costs in each store. This means that direct response strategy, which incorporates data and customer intelligence, is going to be a significant route for marketers.
Expect to see a lasered focus this year on improving customer service and CRM programs as companies discover they can best differentiate their offerings based on their relationship with consumers. Customer engagement and personalization strategies will be essential for winning customer’s hearts and wallets.