interactive marketing

In the old days, marketing was a very simple, very linear, and ironically, rather a plug and play system. Some corporation or other would decide they needed some brand exposure, so they would hire an outside marketing firm (or, if they had real clout, use their own marketing division) to put out newspaper ads, television commercials, and so on. The public would consume these marketing materials, and provided they were worth anything in the first place, people would begin to buy whatever it was that had been marketed to them. That was marketing in a nutshell, and from the time of Socrates until everyone and their Mom was sporting “The Rachel” sometime in the mid-90s, the process pretty much remained the same.

Then the Internet was born, and everything changed.

What was once a singularly one-way street became a bustling superhighway. Communication between marketers and their audience began as a trickle, but as anyone with an ear for trends and pop culture knows, it soon became a flood. In today’s always on, hyper-connected world, anyone who isn’t hip-deep in interactive marketing is setting their business up to fail. That is why as the CEO of 5WPR, it’s important for us to have our clients ahead of the curve with programs that incorporate these new channels.

Interactive Marketing: What’s the Scoop?

A lot of people seem never to have heard the term “interactive marketing”. That’s ok. It’s actually a really simple concept to grasp and employ. In fact, it’s just what it sounds like – a marketing campaign in which a continuous, two-way, reciprocal dialogue exists between a business and its customers. Now that you know how to define it, let’s get into why it’s so cool and how it can give your business a giant boost!

Instant Customer Feedback & Business Focus

One of the greatest things about interactive marketing, especially given its digital focus in today’s Internet-happy climate, is the instant feedback business owners have access to. Are you a fashion designer with two potential products or line ideas? Send your customer base a survey to see which one they prefer! Or perhaps you’re the owner of a coffee shop who needs a clever name for a new pastry or coffee roast. Ask your Twitter followers to help you out – make it a contest and offer a prize for the top entries!

Leveraging interactive marketing like this is a goldmine of opportunity. Your customers feel engaged and know they aren’t just walking wallets, and business owners get laser-targeted traffic, on the ground intelligence about trends and what people actually want to buy, and lots of time, effort, and money saved just by having a conversation. It’s a win-win.

Fishnets vs. Magnets

In days of yore, marketing was basically a fishing trip – you’d do a linear marketing campaign (that’s the net), dip it in the sea by making it live and active, and then you’d just wait, hoping that you’d get a nibble from an interested customer. When and if that happened, there was no knowing – let alone a guarantee! – what sort of customers you were getting. Maybe they were lukewarm and prone to indecision. Maybe they just got pulled in by the marketing hype and weren’t really interested in you or your product at all. A tiny minority always bit for real, though, and hooking those few seemed to be enough to keep the wheels of commerce turning.

Interactive marketing like savvy entrepreneurs use now, though, is more like a magnet. When you take time to engage with your customer base on a personal and friendly level, involving them in your marketing efforts, business ideas, and so forth, you don’t have to go to them. They come to you, and in spades. Now, nothing will save a terrible business or business idea from ruin, but if you’ve got a solid operation behind you, people will flourish on the interactivity you offer them. They’ll talk to you, and more importantly, they’ll tell their friends, neighbors, and coworkers about you.

In short, the customers you get via interactive marketing campaigns are there because they truly want to be. They chose to deal with you, and that’s a very powerful thing. If things go as planned, you’ll have more customers than you can shake a “Buy One, Get One Free” sign at in no time at all, and all for pennies compared to what you would’ve spent on non-interactive marketing efforts. You’ll have more fun and free time to show for it, too!

It’s fishnets versus magnets. Which would you rather use?

An Open Door Policy

The last great thing about interactive marketing campaigns is that they aren’t time-bound. Your physical business may have to close at 7 p.m., but people can engage you online at any time, day or night; this is especially true with the advent of digital outsourcing and the hiring of foreign virtual assistants who can be up and working on the other side of the globe while a business owner snoozes away at home. What’s more, your customers can shop with you at those times, too, provided you have the relevant infrastructure in place. A couple of hours is all it takes to keep your business up and running profitably twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred sixty-five days a year.

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