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One-to-one marketing: Comment - Don't be blinded by light of technology in BTL's '05 growth

With the proportion of marcoms budgets going to below-the-line steadily rising, marketers of all kinds have been balancing the benefits of brand-building and awareness generated by above-the-line against the nearer-term results and, more importantly, the trackability of those results, afforded by BTL. What actually goes on in the area we sweepingly refer to as BTL has been changing, too. Underpinning all of that has been the pragmatic commercial use of a handful of essential technologies.

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Here are three rising trends to reflect on from 2004:

More packaged goods marketers appointed a head of relationship marketing: Not so long ago, derision was heaped on attempts at relationship marketing for packaged goods, based on rather small budgets generated by considering the lifetime value of a toothpaste customer. Now, consider the consolidations which have occurred in the packaged goods area and the lifetime value of a consuming household across the spread of product categories those conglomerates now represent, and the scenario changes substantially.

The increasing role of mobile marketing: Mobile phones are increasingly used as a marcoms channel. SMS is widely used as a simple, effective mechanism for entering sales promotions. Mobile marketing has expanded beyond that into providing valued customers with m-coupons giving unique discounts, coded and tracked, sent to their phones for immediate POS benefits. The newest development is mobile dialogue marketing - fast, flexible two-way marketing communication based on pre-determined conversation pathways and providing entertainment, relationship building and m-coupon benefits. An entire relationship which used to take a month to build can be developed in a day. Of course, if irresponsible marketers and their agencies rush to spam large populations of mobile phone users, the backlash will be severe and the half-life of this channel short.

Marketers making better use of the web for customers and prospects: Marketers and their agencies have made great strides in using the web to provide real customer service. Think here about the mobile telecom operators, the airlines and hotel chains and the banking and financial services sector. Robust content management systems, databases of user and market information, and robust security systems are leading to highly customised service interactions. Combining that with online financial transactions through third-party gateways or credit cards has already been revolutionising all of those industries.

All these trends will probably continue, while morphing in various ways, but it is worth remembering that, at various times, all of the technologies underpinning them have been seen as 'the latest big thing' and then as 'the latest big has-been'.

Proof of Arthur C. Clarke's wisdom, when he wrote, "We tend to over-estimate (the impact of a) technology in the short-term and under-estimate it in the long-term."

This article was first published on Media Asia

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