Marketers’ changing priorities

It’s astonishing how quickly the marketing landscape is changing. Ten years ago it was still all about offline advertising and direct mail. Then Internet banner ads started to take off, while email made serious inroads into the snail mail business. Then along came Google to give impetus to search as a marketing channel.

Now we are seeing yet another major development, as social media comes from nowhere to figure largely in companies’ marketing strategies. A new survey by an email marketing company says that 74% of small businesses plan to up their email spend in 2010, but this is a long-established trend: for me the real story is that social media is close behind, with 66% of respondents planning to invest more in their presence on blogs and social networking sites.

This is at the expense of the other johnny-come-latelies: fewer small businesses expect to spend more on search next year, and more than a half will do no banner advertising at all.

This shift absolutely makes sense, given the enormous popularity of social media and its relative cheapness as a way of reaching large numbers of consumers with relevant messages. But it does rather make one wonder where it will all end. Will yet another new marketing channel, based on an as yet undreamed of technology, come along in a couple of years to displace social media?

I wouldn’t put any money on it, however it’s not the future we should be concerned with, but what’s happening right now. Social media offers huge opportunities, and the challenge for marketers is to see how far they can exploit them to raise brand awareness and boost sales. Still, it will be interesting to see in a couple of years time whether this new media fulfils the present high expectations.

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