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Act and react, digitally, with today’s new form of ‘direct’ marketing

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Do you find yourself constantly checking e-mail, glancing at a PDA or feeling the urge to do some online shopping? In today’s all-encompassing digital age, where the lines between work and play are becoming more blurred, savvy marketers are beginning to take heed and looking for ways to augment traditional print media campaigns with digital and interactive solutions. From e-mail and mobile marketing, Web stores and online advertising circulars to other innovative forms of interactive media, any business looking to stay competitive in the marketing arena must take note of the need to build a digital relationship with consumers.

A 2007 survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers and BtoB revealed that 70% of marketers have plans to shift money from traditional to new media in the coming year. With consumers spending more time connected to either a computer or mobile device, advertisers understand that their audiences’ responses will often be immediate, resulting in a stronger ROI. Additionally, since interactive media is becoming about as “direct” as marketing gets, with the immediacy of mobile ads, the term “direct marketing” may be turning in an entirely new direction.

While a jump onto the new-media bandwagon is wise, marketers must also take note of the steady and strong influence traditional print media continues to hold over consumers. In Vertis Communications’ “2008 Customer Focus: Retail” study, 47% of Americans indicated advertising inserts and circulars are the vehicles that best capture their attention, surpassing TV advertising with an increase from 38% in 2003. With well-integrated interactive and print campaigns, marketers can target their offerings to retain loyal customers or utilize survey and registration methods to collect valuable data in acquiring new ones.

As a leader in the print advertising and direct marketing industry, Vertis is seeing certain segments of its business capitalize on interactive solutions effectively and efficiently. Automotive and computer hardware companies are leading the pack when it comes to adoption of the strategies, and Vertis anticipates other business segments will soon follow their lead. By taking advantage of multichannel campaign capabilities, marketers are guaranteed a more robust advertising approach, while offsetting print media obstacles, such as rising postage, ink and paper rates industrywide.

It’s important that companies looking to break into the new media space ensure their chosen marketing partners have a full palette of capabilities to help them dive directly into the interactive media game. For example, when creating multichannel campaigns for retail, grocery or automotive customers, a marketing solutions team should be able to provide the in-house capabilities for creation of personal URLs (PURLs), e-mail marketing and print-to-online insert conversion. If companies are in need of other interactive media, such as mobile marketing, online interactive games, widgets and search engine optimization (SEO), partnerships should be made with companies leading these innovations to create the biggest possible bang for your marketing buck. This collaborative approach provides marketers all the tools necessary to execute innovative and direct multichannel campaigns.

As the 21st century progresses, determining at what time and through what media to best capture consumers’ already-thinning attention is becoming more difficult for marketing teams. Yet, with a solid multichannel plan in place and an experienced, multifaceted solutions team, the utmost return on marketing dollars and consumer response rates will be seen for years to come.

Franklin Rios is VP-interactive and multicultural sales for Vertis Communications (www.vertisinc.com), a provider of targeted advertising and marketing solutions to retail and consumer services companies. He may be reached at frios@vertisinc.com.

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