Another wake-up call

The recent Canadian Congress of Advertising held in Toronto dramatically underlined the critical need to solve some serious problems in the advertising sector.However, for an industry that lives on creative and strategic thinking, I am surprised that no breakthrough solutions were...

The recent Canadian Congress of Advertising held in Toronto dramatically underlined the critical need to solve some serious problems in the advertising sector.

However, for an industry that lives on creative and strategic thinking, I am surprised that no breakthrough solutions were proposed.

Any bright ideas?

Did anyone have any bright ideas? Did anyone cut through with a new way to do business? Did anyone proactively talk about a new, emerging technology that will radically change the whole of marketing, never mind advertising? (Not direct-response tv, nor interactive tv.)

This is understandable. Smooth evolution is easier than bumpy revolution. But, on the other hand, at least one major marketer stood up and called for the revolution – and another agreed.

So, let the revolution begin. Here’s the jolt: marketing is dead (John Dalla Costa said it first in the Jan. 11 issue of Strategy). Long live interactive marketing. (I said it first.)

Interactive Voice Response (ivr) is opening up a new way to market – one that treats consumers as individuals, and not statistics.

And, I might add, this is no back-room technology – it is the catalyst and driver of a revolutionary new construct in marketing.

It enables totally new principles, attitudes and a philosophy about the way products and services will be bought and sold this decade.

The empowerment of the consumer is imminent. (The leading example is banking by telephone.)

Revolutionize

Interactive technologies will revolutionize our lifestyles and business styles this decade.

Whether it be with consumers, businesses, governments, or other entities, ‘interactivity’ will trigger a fundamental reorientation in the way we live, learn, play, communicate and transact.

The impact will be comparable to that created by the printing press and tv.

In marketing, it will manifest itself as a complete reversal of thinking.

Marketing will no longer be concerned with what was, or what may be – it will focus on what is. And that is the satisfaction of consumers’ immediate, individualized needs and buying intentions.

Consumers’ consumption of advertising and their buying decisions and patterns are already changing radically, and they will continue to do so.

They are moving fast, and will move even faster now that interactivity is here.

Supreme challenge

The supreme challenge for marketing and advertising now is to keep up with individual consumers, and to give them exactly what they say they need, not what we think they want.

The most logical way is to give them full control over the process of creating relationships with marketers, and to help them to exercise it.

Marketing now has to empower consumers in a credible, meaningful way in order to win their confidence, trust and loyalty. We also have to listen to them, intently.

Those marketers, and their agencies, who adopt the principles of interactivity now, and the practice of interactive marketing, every second of every day, will be the big winners in the no-time-to-waste ’90s.

They will outsell, outservice, outmarket their competition. Consistently.

Here then, in 350 words or less, are the new terms, icons, and imperatives of interactive marketing as they are emerging.

You put them together. The picture will be worth millions of dollars on anybody’s bottom line.

Interactive marketing principle: information-on-demand. Interaction, immediacy.

Interactive consumerism principle: choice, convenience, consent.

Two-way, instantaneous flow of information/advertising. Massive marketing time-shift: to ‘consumer time,’ 24-hour-a-day. Satisfy immediate needs. Facilitate individualized input.

IVR: the consumer’s media. Advertising-on-demand. Interactive telephone programs, gateways and databases: product/service information, dealer/store locator, warranty registration, promotion, electronic coupons, automated transactions/tracking, real-time research, fax-on-demand, opinions, secure, interactive proprietary databases, voluntary consent to marketers to keep-in-touch, automated transcription of name/address/telephone number, instant fulfillment.

The human touch. Direct connect to live operator. Alpha-numeric speech recognition (no more pressing keys, rotary/pulse calls accepted). Pleasing program content. Screen-phones. (You can now see your bank balance on a screen on the telephone.)

Enhanced telecommunications services. 800 service rates declining constantly. ($0.30/connect-minute for a national program call.) Custom market coverage by area code.

Performance measurement/ research. Phenomenal pin-point reporting. National, province, region, City FSA, ldu instantly. Continuously. Diskette. Hard-copy. Remote, client/agency response monitoring. Real-time, priceless, free, consumer comments/feedback.

Power shift

Consumer empowerment. The ultimate marketing power shift: put the control into the hands of consumers. Trust before loyalty. Respect of privacy. (Stop selling names.)

‘Zero response time’ (instantaneous gratification.) Voluntary involvement with advertising they choose. Let consumers ‘own’ the marketer. No-waiting-in-line service.

Prime prospects, not suspects. Individuals, not clusters. Two-way, not one-way. Permission, not intrusion. Quality, not quantity. Information-on-demand, not pollution. On-going interaction, not one-shot deals.

These are just some of the attributes interactivity will bring to marketing this decade.

Interactive telephone programs, gateways and databases are destined to become the most powerful micromarketing tools of the ’90s.

Their advantage is their ability to acquire the highest level of instantaneous, qualified consumer responses from all media, to convert prospects to customers quickly, to win their confidence, trust and loyalty, and to maintain the relationship for as long as possible, through constant, individualized interaction.

The goal of this article is to help you to get on the leading edge of the building interactive marketing wave, and to ride it for all its worth. It is the new way, and it is the right way.

Know also that there are highly creative, innovative entrepreneurs and companies who have been working in ivr for years, and they are ready, willing and able to produce, execute, manage and support any interactive application that meets your needs.

Our future is in the consumer’s hands. It’s on the line. How will you answer this call?

Adrian Harvey is an interactive marketing consultant with Phonetix of Toronto.