The evolution of “interactive”
When most people hear the term “interactive,” their thoughts go to the web or social media platforms. That’s understandable since many businesses nowadays spend a great amount of time and resources promoting their company on the Internet. There are a lot of digital channels and tactics emerging, but it’s important to remember that marketing initiatives, as a rule, have always been interactive by design. Sometime ago, the term was restricted in its use with online programs, though in reality, it never should have been.
It’s no secret that many customer/company interactions are facilitated via Internet technology. However, in order for a brand to be truly endearing to its audience, there must be two-way communication at every engagement, be it offline or online.
What’s more, this type of strategy has been in place for generations. Consider popular food stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joes as examples. Both set up displays with various products that offer customers free samples. The idea is that once a person gets the product in their mouth, the chance of them purchasing the item is far greater. Spark interaction, the theory goes, and the rest will take care of itself.
Another example can be seen through current automobile advertisements. Dealerships use print ads and television commercials inviting individuals to come in for a test drive. The intention isn’t to close a sale right out of the gate, but rather, get them to come in, experience the car and learn about it. While the end goal might be a sale, the primary goal of these promotions is to provoke interactivity.
With this in mind, the trick is how best to integrate all marketing vehicles to be both informative and engaging to the customer. The textbook definition is “relationship selling,” meaning that companies must understand they are not just hawking a product or service, but an experience that goes far beyond the features and functions of the particular widget. People buy from those that they know, like and trust.
This comes not just from spouting the item’s benefits, but from direct, interactive engagement with the customer that has them coming away with the strong belief that the organization cares about them and wants to ensure that they walk away from their purchase satisfied in their decision to do so. That means engaging the individual in multiple forms of communication that, while unique in their delivery, are consistent in placing the person’s needs and wants as Priority One.
One thing’s for certain. We as marketers and C-level execs must change the way we use the term “interactive.” It is and always has been about engaging customers in a genuine, personal manner wherever they are and whenever they want.