Companies Expand CD-ROM Usage Much Further Than Games

Article excerpt

Just a few years ago, CD-ROMs were all but nonexistent, and the small numbers that were being circulated were primarily used to promote the entertainment industry. Is it a viable interactive marketing tool or a marketing medium that's destined to lose its luster?

In today's highly cluttered, ultra-competitive marketplace, effective marketing means targeting consumers with pinpoint accuracy, capturing their interest with a compelling message, and providing them with the information they need to make an educated buying decision. So why haven't more companies experimented with the multimedia and interactive capabilities of CD-ROM technology? They are, but it's a learning curve that's taking companies time to ab- sorb.

Clearly, CD-ROMs can store much higher volumes of information than a traditional computer diskette -- not simply text and charts, but high resolution graphics, motion video, animation and precision sound. And CD-ROMs provide marketers with an opportunity to engage customers in a very intriguing, and targeted manner. With the recent proliferation of this technology, both in the home and office, savvy marketers are learning how to harness its power. For example, companies like L.L. Bean are producing and distributing CD-ROM catalogs. Some experts speculate that CD-ROMs will serve as an intermediate medium only, ultimately to be leap-frogged by on-line services. But at present, the protocols for on-line data transmission are not universally consistent, and performance is restrained by the hardware specifications of the user. Meanwhile, CD-ROM drive sales are soaring. The costs associated with CD-ROM marketing, may be prohibitive for some companies, but there are several ways to tap into this emerging technology. Let's consider some of the most viable options: * Corporate identity packages. Most companies respond to requests for corporate background information with the standard print collateral package, which usually includes a company or product brief, case histories, press clippings, executive profiles, etc. Imagine the impact of presenting all of the materials on interactive CD-ROM. You could, for example, insert voice clips of customer testimonials. By combining standard text and graphics with sound and video, your highly targeted, key selling points are sure to be noticed. * Retailing. More and more progressive retailers are convinced that electronic catalogs are a most effective way to aim their products at home consumers, and target households most interested in catalog shopping. While the expense associated with this form of merchandising may be daunting, several services have reduced the cost of entry through co-oping. 2Market, an interactive catalog disc published through a joint venture between America Online, Apple Computer and Medior, includes products from 27 merchants. CD-ROM marketing also offers retailers a way to provide prospective consumers with an exciting live shopping experience, ranging from tips by personal shopping consultants, to conversations with musicians featuring music selections and video clips. …