I recently tweeted something that, I think deserves a more detailed explanation:
This is true for a few reasons.
A direct world: all customers can and will contact brand controllers directly. Information services and direct brand channels such as twitter mean that customers deserve and expect direct answers and interaction. Something only traditional service companies would once provide.
The manufacturing gap: Every year the chasm between between brands and manufacturing is widening. In fact, many of the worlds most adored brands don’t make what they sell. They either design and direct (eg Apple) or only make information (Facebook / Google). In fact consumer manufacturing stalwarts like Kraft and Proctor & Gamble produce far less than they ever have. The gap between makers and marketers will only continue to widen. And require traditional brand owners to become more service oriented in the process.
The virtual replacing the physical: Increasingly we are making and selling virtual goods. Goods that are consumed intellectually. Think video games – and then think far wider. Just because we can’t touch something, it does not mean it doesn’t provide significant utility. Paid for mobile apps and software are great examples, as is music in digital format. The CD only provided utility in that it delivered the music, nothing more.
Recently Marc Andresseen, was quoted as saying ‘Software is eating everything’ which is a very important statement. The shift is happening, and even if we still make stuff – increasingly our service orientation will be how we win.
I saw this video below and fell in love with all of it. Every single P. Of the 4P’s that is…
The Product: So cool. Who doesn’t want something hand made, that has a story, that looks uber cool, and is recycled?
The Price: I almost don’t care, so long as it wasn’t more than what I would expect to pay for this product, then it is fine. Really. In fact, I’d probably pay a little more.
The Place: I hate shopping. I like ordering over the web and not have to go find a car park, pay for parking, deal with condescending retail worker fashionistas. In fact, I’m not even sure how these will look on my head. But I figure because they are so cool, I’ll feel cool and they’ll automatically look cool on me. (hey, I’m not pretending sunglasses are not a fashion accessory)
The Promotion: Well let’s put it this way. All I have ever seen is the video below. No one has ever spoken to me about this brand or product. In fact it is my first exposure to it. I loved the film, the light and most of all the story. It was beautiful to watch. I have already placed an order over the web. I found out via a tweet that someone sent. (By the way over 10 million tweets a day are about brands). That was all it took.
And now I’m in, part of the brand and spreading the word. This is how startups gain traction. Making cool stuff and embracing new methods to go to market.
The new rules of media are pretty simple. The only type of messages pretty much anyone is interested in these days are:
Anticipated, personal and relevant messages.
Anything else is just noise, or maybe even SPAM. It’s also easy to conclude that this is only relevant in new media. Not true. These changes in the landscape have modified our worldview to the point that all media must now abide by the rules in bold above.
So next time we talk to our audience, we should ask ourselves if we abiding by the rules of the new world, or damaging our brand by living in the past.
Pop culture knowledge used to be about knowing who was atop of the leader board:
- the top of the billboard chart
- the number 1 movie
- the best selling pair of jeans
- the best selling athletic shoe
- the best picture at the Academy awards
- the most popular celebrity endorser
- … popularity contest X
This knowledge was a quick reference asset. It was worth keeping tabs on.
Pop culture has changed.
Now it’s about knowing what’s coming next. Knowing who’s already here is of little value. Anyone can find that out in a moments notice, it’s public and omnipresent on the web. Knowing who or what will be hot 6 months from now is where the currency is. And that takes constant assessment and curation of the content. That is an art in itself.
In many ways Gamification is an evolution of the long lived Loyalty Scheme. But so much better, and the evidence exists even at the simplest level – the words themselves.
Loyalty Scheme: Firstly the word loyalty seems very one way. It was / is as if the company expects us to be loyal to them. And although one might argue that loyalty is a two way street, the second word of the phrase is the giveaway – ‘Scheme’. Yep, sounds like some kind of a trick to me. A scheme to make us believe we are getting a good deal, when in truth we are just a number on some kind of cost / benefit analysis spreadsheet. Intuitively, schemes feel like there is a winner and a loser.
Gamificiation: Games are fun. We spend most of our childhood playing them and find as many excuses as possible to play them as adults. ‘Who wants to come to the football this Friday night?’ A game needs at least two willing parties or organisations to play. Sometimes we can collaborate and form teams and clubs and divisions and theme songs and have awards nights and weekend getaways. We can celebrate wins together and lament the losses, either way we like to return to the game and try and win, or even better our own score, although it’s collaborative, it’s also personal. The game is the ‘thing’, not the result of it. Games contrive all of the important human emotions that make our hearts beat.
Play is human. Great games even turn into industries.
Yep, it feels to me that gamification facilitated via Moore’s law is here to stay.
Making really good stuff is not enough. We’ve got to be good as well. Good people. We’ve got to have a DNA encoded into our business which shows we stand for something that is wider than what we sell. I’m not talking about any of that Corporate Social Responsibility crap, or even triple bottom line reporting. I’m talking about caring enough to leave good things behind us in our trail. For the things we touch to be the same or better after we’ve been there. And most of all, we need to make sure our trail is going to be good, before we carve the path that takes us forward.
The scientifically minded readers of this blog will be more familiar with the law of entropy than the business minded. The law of entropy defined from a physics viewpoint is heavy in maths and description. But from a social perspective the concept of entropy is generally used as a metaphor for chaos, disorder. They way I’d describe it is like this:
Unless we attend to stuff and maintain it, it will naturally fall apart.
We see this every day with old houses and cars. Unless they are attended to frequently, they just fall apart. What we don’t do is take the analogy as deep as we should into the businesses we run. They too require constant attention just to maintain the status quo. To grow, requires extra attention above ‘maintenance levels’. The problem with startups is that we are so focused on gaining initial traction and momentum that we forget about the upkeep. We are so focused on the next win, improvement or iteration, that we forget to check the stuff we’ve already done, built or created. And so it can start to fall apart without us really noticing. In some ways the most important innovation we can make is maintenance.
Lesson: If we don’t maintain what we already have, then the new stuff we introduce will end up being zero sum game.
There’s something about brands that know how to have fun. I reckon the Toyota Prius fits in this category. Their recent advertisement asking the crowd to work out the plural version of the word Prius is very catchy. (I’m a long time jingle lover). It’s also a cool way to build some anticipation and awareness of the new range
Is your brand having fun?