One of the most significant trends in consumer marketing is the emergence of multi-channel marketing of products and services. Technology has shaken the foundations of marketing in several profound ways.
Technology has put the consumer in control. Thanks to technology, the power of choice is now at the consumers’ fingertips. They can choose to get the marketers’ message when they want, how they want and where they want. Most importantly, technology has enabled the consumer to decide whether he or she wants the marketers’ message in the first place.
Technology has been the foundation for the introduction of a vast array of new media alternatives. Today, marketers are operating in a media landscape that offers a number of mediums such as the internet, podcasts, blogs and mobile technology. Each offers them the opportunity to directly connect with the consumer.
Technology has changed how marketers manage brands and how they build brand equity. Earlier customer brand loyalty was not a factor that product managers worried about, today with the customer having access to multiple sources of competitive information the matter of brand loyalty is of utmost importance to all marketers.
Naturally, more and more organizations are using direct channels such as the internet and catalogue channels as well as other traditional channels to reach out to their customers. E-mail, e-commerce, websites, the cell phone and laptop are opening up a new world of marketing communication; a world that ensures quick and direct contact with the consumer as well as one that gives the consumer increased freedom of choice by providing equal access to competitive articles. This new world of marketing is one where consumers are not passive recipients of the marketing message, where the process of marketing is made into a two way communicative-one with consumers having the means of reverting with their feedback quickly and the other, directly to the marketer(like mouthshut.com).
More recently, the rising popularity of social media and networking sites has given a whole new dimension to online marketing. Online communities, blogs and sites such as DIGG and Burrrp can make or break a marketer’s reputation and business with immediate feedback, reviews and discussions. For example, Kryptonite has not been able to recover its earlier standing with customers after a video posted online showed a customer easily breaking their “unbreakable” locks. However, intelligent and proactive use of social media can also help companies recover from crisis. For example, Dell, which went through their worst crisis after a video posted online captured the image of a Dell laptop bursting into flames. Bloggers and online opinion makers were quick to criticize Dell products. However the company went online and with the help of a sustained social media marketing strategy, has managed to recover much of its lost reputation. Microsoft, General Motors and Coca Cola are some examples of companies that have successfully leveraged social media to their advantage.
Today, the net is arguably the most powerful communication medium available to business. However it cannot exist in isolation as a stand-alone device. Its power can only be maximized if it is integrated into a company’s total marketing communications strategy. With the rapid development of mobile telephony, M-commerce has also become the marketing buzzword. Mobile commerce is one medium that marketers, especially those catering to consumers between the ages of 15-25, simply cannot afford to ignore. Certainly, M-commerce has fallen short of the loyalty expectations of its original advocates. Small screens, tiny keypads, limited bandwidth and other problems thwarted many potential applications. However, M-commerce-related technologies still have great potential.
Technology has had a deep impact on marketing, not just in terms of opening up new mediums and channels but also in terms of improving existing ones. Recently, static point of purchase (POP) signs have begun to be replaced by electronic, dynamically updated POP displays that present targeted product information, instant coupons and more. The software used to control these dynamic POP displays typically allows for near-real time content updates, allowing brand managers to run instant marketing experiments, geographically targeted promotions campaign.
Today technology has become a key and relevant marketing enabler. Never before has technology played such a crucial role in the success of a marketing initiative and in brand building. Effective use of modern day communication tools can guarantee a marketer a very quick and easy way to reach out to the target audience, thus making it a key ingredient in any marketing professional’s tool box.