Rat Race Scurry

Today, 40 percent of the web development budget goes toward marketing, thanks to a growing opportunity for web sites to drown in over two billion pages of Internet competition.

As a result, marketing activity is frenzied, with more than 80 percent of all television commercials in the USA featuring a web address, and 30 percent promoting an individual web site.

Can this trend continue? Perhaps. Certainly, more and more companies are realizing that the cost of offline marketing is far too expensive when compared to its impact.

Companies are comparing the number of online banner ads that could be bought for just one prime time 30-second TV spot during the Super Bowl. On top of the cost, such offline marketing can target the wrong audience by as much as 70 percent. There’s a feeling in some quarters that spending money on offline marketing activities is like throwing pearls before swine.

This realization has started a new creative quest to discover alternative ways for web site promotion.

One of the first to do this was Orange Technologies Inc. which, during a US launch of a special youth product, offered to repaint all its customers’ cars free of charge. The only condition was that Orange could decide the color. (Guess which!) After just one day, 24 cars were painted at a cost of US$4,200.

During the Australian pre-opening publicity of the film, “The Blair Witch Project,” A4 photocopied posters were placed in all major Australian cities. The posters were created in a style similar to those used for missing persons.

The film is based on the true story of three student filmmakers who disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland (USA), in 1994 while shooting a documentary about the legend (some say true story) of the Blair Witch. A year later, their footage was found.

On each poster is the web address of a site where people can learn more about the students’ story. Hundreds of thousands of people have already accessed the web site. The cost was AUS$3,000 and involved 10 students to put up posters around the country.

Even market leaders like Yahoo have used offline marketing to promote themselves. If you ever saw a chauffeur holding a sign at an airport to pick up Mr. Yahoo, then you probably witnessed a company promotion.

Successful offline marketing for the Internet is about low budgets and high creativity. All evidence today shows that creative use of web marketing not only captures attention but is also remembered for a longer period.

With more than two billion web pages and an average 250,000 new pages appearing on the Net every day, we have only seen the beginning of an online race for brand recognition.

That drive for awareness is becoming a rat race scurry.

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