Interactive TV acquires some business sense

Imagine this. You’re the marketing director of a well-known high street retailer. Your company has several hundred stores scattered across the country, and over the years, sales and market share have continually improved.

Your advertising and point-of-sale strategies are highly effective, and you even have a Website that’s beginning to show signs of future promise. What next?

The phone rings and on the line is someone from a telecommunications company, a software business or something in-between. They claim they have something that will reinvent your business. It’s called interactive TV. You figure it can’t hurt to meet and hear a little more, so you arrange a meeting.

The sales rep wows you with an extraordinary demonstration reel. He explains that his service can effectively put your store in every living room in the country. He tells you that everyone will be able to buy your products and services, while lying on the couch and clicking away with a remote control. You’re impressed.

It gets better. You’ll have access to their expert production and technical staff, and they’ll aggressively market your shop to their subscribers. He tells you that sales will rocket, and that you’ll be named chief executive six months after the service launches. You’re ready to sign.

Next he tells you that all of this can be yours for the extremely competitive price of several hundred thousand pounds and non-negotiable percentages on every sale you make.

You’re shocked. You say you need time to think about it. He says don’t wait too long. All of your competitors have already signed up, but proving it would violate confidentiality agreements.

He urges you not to contact anyone else about this because that would alert too many competitors before the system launches. Don’t call your IT department because they won’t understand the proprietary technology. And heaven forbid, don’t call any of your marketing agencies. You panic.

Is interactive TV really this bad? Of course not, but the reality is that technology companies, and media businesses like Sky or Cable & Wireless, are driving the interactive TV market. Over the past few years, they’ve done an exceptional job of developing their infrastructure to accommodate the remarkable consumer proposition which will ultimately become interactive TV.

What they lack, however, is an understanding of how you develop long-term, sustainable, profitable relationships with your consumers.

The better marketers are beginning to realise this. They know they need to involve individuals from different parts of the organisation – people from distribution and sales, advertising and point of sale.

They’re contacting consultants who have committed themselves to understanding the interactive TV market and are prepared to advise and provide clients with proper representation. They’re looking to make informed business decisions which advance their commercial objectives.

If you are a marketing director with ambitions of becoming a chief executive, what are you doing about interactive TV?

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