Postage costs up 25%, paper costs up 10% to 15% -- what next, a do-not-mail list? Catalogers are being forced to take a hard look at alternatives to prospect mailings in order to acquire new customers. The good news is that you can now acquire prospects online and often at lower costs than renting lists and mailing catalogs.
When I joined Ogilvy & Mather as a freshly-minted MBA way back in the disco era, a key maxim addressed to our clients was "increase spending during tough times to grow market share." Good advice, actually. And often effective. However, it's not very practical for most clients -- particularly publicly traded ones. Since then, better data, segmentation strategies and targeted media have changed the advice. The tough times advice now goes something like this: "Optimize spending to grow your market share among your best potential customers."
Consumers want online relationships with their friends and colleagues. This is evident in the rise of social networks -- both large, such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, and smaller but rapidly growing niche communities such as CafeMom. A recent survey shows people also welcome online relationships with consumer brands --specifically, consumer packaged goods (CPG). Seventy percent of respondents said they already use the Internet to research everyday grocery products. Many (47%) deem branded e-newsletters as their preferred channel of communication for this type of information, followed by branded CPG Web sites (39%) and online communities/forums (14%).
I've witnessed a destructive trend in the last year with lead generation. If the lead isn't hot with an immediate readiness to convert, it is often shoved aside, long to be forgotten -- leaving the person who initially made an inquiry with a bad impression.
Online lead generation is a booming but increasingly scrutinized industry. While many of the older players are struggling to set standards of fairness and transparency to protect consumers and businesses alike, the local market is pioneering a new way forward that provides transparency for both advertisers and consumers.