When Does More Become Too Much?

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There is a television commercial airing in which a construction crew is scheduled to implode a single building. The job goes so well that the crew blows up the entire downtown. The tag line on the campaign advises, "Just because you have the power, it does not mean you have to use all of it - all at once."


In today's bigger, faster, newer marketplace, when does better simply become too much of a good thing?


The technological advances of today's breakthrough, lightning-fast world should enable you to get more return on investment in less time. It should open new markets. But what happens when too much technology starts bogging down your marketing efforts rather than boosting them?


In an effort to be the first to the finish line, are we bombarding consumers with too much glitz and glamour? And the questions of the hour are: Do they want it, and are they responding to it?


Do consumers really want talking banners, e-mail on their televisions or advertising messages on their cell phones just for the "coolness factor" and not because they actually benefit the consumers in some way? Consider this: Have you asked the recipients of your marketing messages what they want from you?


Now companies are introducing e-commerce-enabled e-mail. This concept allows a person to read, decide and order all within an e-mail message. There is nothing wrong with this concept. It is a very clean system with great potential. Eventually, this method will be a standard operating procedure, but not today. That statement probably accounts for most of the failures in the dot-com explosion and bust. No one was ready to use most of the techniques brought forth at this time.


People are just getting used to being online. We are probably a full generation ahead of ourselves.


In tough economic times, just as in good times, consumers do need things. They will buy. The difference is that they will make direct marketers work a little harder for their dollars. So you need to put your money where your mouse is and start delivering substance with your advertising messages. You need to come up with the big ideas that grab customers' attention. But you also need to give information that lets both business-to-business and business-to-consumer buyers make educated purchasing choices.


It will not be the medium but rather the message that wins the day. Targeting the correct audience with the right offer at the right price will get the response. The newest technology without the correct ingredients will fail.


Everyone seems to be grabbing for a piece of the technology pie -- it's sexy; it's the new thing. But remember that you are marketers, and all of your efforts are about being able to link right across all the gizmos, gadgets and glitz to the customer. You must use technology as the backbone that enables you to build customer relationships.


According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Columbus, OH, few site tools are used by online shoppers, except for search capabilities and close-up or zoom features. This might be a reminder of the acronym KISS (keep it simple, stupid).


In a recent campaign, Register.com did just this. Using technology never used before, it designed a campaign that, on the surface, looked simple but was actually more complex than virtually any e-mail campaign embarked upon to date.


Here is what Register.com did: An e-mail was sent to prospects to let them know they could get personalized domain names. It sounds simple. But the tricky part (and where advanced technology came into play) was that each prospect link became personalized so that Jane Smith would click to a page that contained the message "Find out if Jsmith.com, JaneSmith.com, JS.com, etc. is available -- click here now!" John Doe would get a page customized to him and so on.


This marriage of behind-the-scenes advanced technology with good, old-fashioned customer relationship management was a huge success because the customer was presented with proof that this company went out of its way to deliver more than just an off-the-shelf sales pitch.


So when is it appropriate to use the bells and whistles? When it gives customers the purchasing information they need to make an educated decision. Titleist Golf is running a banner campaign on golf.com that takes the consumer to an interactive ball-fitting site that is unique and informational. While the technology is there with Flash movies, audio voice-overs and interactive operability, the basis of the campaign is a desire to help players select products that will improve their game -- a learning experience whereby the consumers (golfers) will receive immediate information -- whether they buy or not. The direct response comes into play when consumers are offered the opportunity to buy online.


Hi-tech marketing needs to reflect on the basics. You need the time to catch up with yourselves. The results of the recent past show that the "pioneers do get the arrows in their backs."


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