Four Reasons Interactive Marketing Is Ready To Lead Your Brand

Brand marketers don’t spend much online. It’s been a long-time frustration for me, but it’s undeniably true: According to our most recent interactive marketing forecast, marketers in brand categories spend less than half as much of their marketing budgets online as marketers in direct response categories. Brand marketers also continue to spend a huge portion of their marketing budgets on TV.

I’ll be honest: Five or 10 years ago, this made sense. Although lot of us were shouting from the rooftops back in 2000 about the scale and power of the Internet, the truth is back then its scale and power were relatively limited. The majority of the population still wasn’t online, Internet usage averaged only a few hours per week, and the brand stories we could tell online were constrained by both tiny banner ads (anyone remember "half banners"?) and tiny bandwidth (broadband access, and with it online video and other rich creative, was years away from the mainstream).

In that environment, it made sense that TV was by far marketers’ most important channel for building brand. After all, it offered brand marketers by far the largest media opportunity (more total users, and way more total hours, than any other media channel) and by far the richest brand impact of any platform. Marketers would have had little choice even if they wanted it: 30-second TV spots were the be-all and end-all of how they explained the meaning of the brands, and all other channels — online, radio, print, outdoor, and everything else — were simply a chance to reinforce the messaging in the TV spots.

But the conditions that made TV the de facto heart of our brand messaging no longer exist. Today, interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand campaigns, for four key reasons:

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From Soap To Shoes

I’m often asked how I went from marketing women’s skincare at Neutrogena to Timberland boots for outdoor guys, as they seem to be such different businesses. But for me, they have more in common than you might think. They are both strong global brands, with products you can trust and passionate, involved consumers. My passion is for figuring out what is at the heart of a brand, how consumers connect with it, and how to connect with them — understanding what those consumers have in common and where their needs are different, whether they are in Milan, Minneapolis, or Mumbai or whether they are an outdoor guy or a city woman.

At Forrester, I’m going to delve into these areas: harnessing the consumers’ voice in the marketing process; when you should listen and when you should not; the similarities — how global brands can stay true to what they are, while embracing local consumers' needs; and what this looks like in the virtual age, when global walls separating consumers in different countries have fallen down. What’s the butterfly effect of a marketing program in Shanghai on a consumer in San Francisco? What are the differences — for example, how women consume media differently than men, particularly interactive and social media, and how that affects the media mix. Finally, with so many choices, and so few dollars (or pounds or RMB), how can marketing leaders identify what return they are getting on their spend?

So here’s where I need your help. What are your brand-building challenges? What would you like to learn more about that will help you and your team connect with your consumer?