More Bangs For Your Bucks

Richard Nolan

Operations Director

The Financial Services Forum

Few readers can have failed to notice the huge increases in the quantity and the developments in the style of Internet advertising in recent years. Yet Justin Hayward’s thesis is that most companies are not embracing the new – or now not-so-new – medium properly, and as a result are not getting value-for-money from hard-pressed marketing budgets. Indeed, they may be missing entirely a significant proportion of customers, who now see little of the conventional media channels. For example, more adults under 44 now read newspapers online rather than ‘in the hand’.
The other key issue is that marketing in the Internet realm can be genuinely two-way. Hayward cites as a cautionary tale the way in which HSBC was ‘Facebooked’ last year by students disgruntled over charges on their accounts. Opinions were mobilized very rapidly, but the bank was slow to react. Worse, although it eventually gave way, it was perceived as doing so with bad grace, and there is a
massive legacy of negative comment stored in cyberspace that will resurface for years to come every time that ‘HSBC’ and ‘student accounts’ are googled. HSBC is not alone in its tepid response to electronic communications – 53% of companies did not answer simple queries submitted via web forms, and 35% of banks do not even provide an e-mail address for inquiries. In contrast, Cadbury’s turned a few initial online requests for the reintroduction of Wispa into a modest marketing and communications coup.
Hayward distils his experience in the sector into six key recommendations for marketers struggling in this new medium. On the page, these may seem quite unremarkable, but they have been proved
to be effective by companies that have recognized the opportunity – and which will dominate the market unless the laggards take note.
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