All Together Now

There are parallels between interactive advertising and public speaking. In both, a “presenter” wants to develop a relationship with an “audience.” The presenter must let the audience know what she is about to address, how it affects them, and what actions they should take with the information. The presenter then needs to hold the audience’s attention and reinforce the message of value.

The point of any advertising is to get a message from the advertiser to the customer. In that message, advertisers must tell the customer what the offer means to him and what he must do to take advantage of it.

At best, a presenter will unite with her audience to get past the “you and me” phase and convert it into “us.” This coming together creates unity among audience members. If achieved successfully, the wall around the presenter comes down. Instead of being the voice of authority, she becomes a facilitator for a group. E pluribus unum (out of many, one).

As individuals, we’re independent, but our humanity mandates socialization. We crave belonging. Churches, clubs, sporting events, and special-interest groups bring like-minded people together. They make us part of something bigger. Because these forums provide themes that link individuals, we feel comfortable to worship as we desire, enjoy unusual hobbies, or root for the team of our choice from a base of solidarity. The group provides the safety and protection we need to express preference.

Many successful ads have inclusive messages. “Attention, men who want to prevent hair loss!” has a footprint in the marketplace. As a man whose forehead has gotten taller in the past decade, I relate to the message and feel kinship with other “follicle-y” challenged men. “I’m part of a larger group of men who won’t judge me unfavorably and am ready to hear what you have to say.” The effectiveness of the message that follows depends on how concerned I am with my hair loss, the cost to emotional value, and other factors, but I have become part of a bigger whole.

Many online advertising approaches don’t include the customer; instead, they have devolved into a billboard branding approach. Content is tossed in front of a customer while the advertiser relies on animation and glitz instead of message. “Remember me or click to my site. The ‘interactive’ choice is yours!”

This approach won’t reach customers or make them feel part of a group or community.

Like speaking, interactivity requires a presenter and an audience. The simplest interactive ads create a relationship. The mechanics are straightforward and partly based on relationship building. Here is a model interactive advertisers might consider:

  1. Attract the attention of the customer. This is where the glitz and flash come into play. Don’t apologize for wanting to be seen. Do whatever you can to grab eyeballs. Those customers who don’t want to pay attention to your message won’t.
  2. Let the customer know how the offer will affect him personally. This is a great place to start creating a relationship. “Modern medical breakthrough means you will never have another headache as long as you live!”
  3. Tell the customer what action to take. This is where interactivity allows the customer to explore the marketing message without having to disrupt his browsing. “Drag the bottle of Nopainium onto the swollen brain to see immediate results and get a free sample!”
  4. Conclude the transaction. This isn’t an open-ended medium. Sure, some customers will stick around for a while to play an interactive game, but the majority will get the point and want to move on. Don’t be coy. “Instant relief from Nopainium can be yours! Enter your email address below, and we will send you a coupon good for a FREE trial-size bottle.”
  5. Release the customer. If you intend to collect information from a customer, let him know when the transaction is over. After the customer has provided his email address and clicked on the send button, follow up with something like, “Thanks for your interest in Nopainium. Check your email for a printable coupon good for your free sample. (Offer void in Tennessee and 49 other states.)”

Not every offer can be fully inclusive, but by considering the customer’s needs and desire to be part of something bigger — and by offering a solution to a problem — you may have a formula for success.

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