Consumer is a dirty word

For a long time I’ve hated the word ‘consumer’. It has very little to do with marketing, let alone delighting people who give you their custom. After a recent tweet about it – I was asked by Marketing Magazine to write an article about it.

Click here to read the article I wrote about it. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this dirty word.

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Top 10 tips to learn a language

When it comes to starting anything new, including learning how to speak a foreign language. So here’s my top 10 tips on how to hack the language learning process using the web:

  1. Watch free youtube lessons on speaking your preferred language. They’ve got ’em all.
  2. Follow native speakers of that language on twitter. Here frequency & brevity is your ally.
  3. Comment on blogs in that language to practice your written form.
  4. Makes friends on-line with people from that country who want to learn English.
  5. Organize skype chats with your on-line friends to practice each others language together.
  6. Download one of the many free apps to practice in down time or while waiting for people.
  7. Offer free on-line English lessons to speakers of the language you desire to learn.
  8. Watch kids shows (cartoons etc) from your home country that have been translated on-line (see youtube)
  9. Set your browser, mobile and web apps into the language you are learning.
  10. Bonus Analogue tip – go to local restaurant and practice with waiters…

There’s never been a better time to start something worth starting.

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Digital Dialects

While it has been reported that many languages are dying via globalisation and nationalised education, language is fighting back. But this time it isn’t geographic. It’s jumping boundaries and hardware devices to find like minds who want to invent their own lexicon. Language likes to be unique. Language likes to treat insiders differently. Language likes to evolve, change and even judge.The connected world is developing an entire cadre of digital dialects in. Most of which are geographically dispersed and happen virtually.

For me it’s another proof point of the world we are all now living in. As soon as we think we understand what’s happening, it evolves. But more important than the change is the fact that it never asks for permission.

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It’s just the evolution of language

I was asked if I thought social media was dead, my response was that it never really was. To me  it’s just the next evolution of the human language. At first we had pointing at things and our body language to communicate. Then we had pictographs on cave walls, which evolved into the spoken word. After which the written word and the printing press arrived…..

Social media is just the wider dissemination of human communications facilitated by new technology – just like books once were a new technology. I wonder if they had some buzz word for the common book when it arrived? The fact that the tools were new and shinny prompted us to name them, put them in a definable category, when all it was (is?) was the evolution of humans talking and sharing ideas.

Is social media dead? I’m not sure, what I am sure of is that humans are social creatures and there is nothing more we enjoy than socialising in any way we can.

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It’s our audience, not a target

There’s quite a few bad words used in business and marketing. Words which quantify, extract and segment. They dehumanise business. I’d like to see them removed from our vernacular. Here’s two examples worth sharing.

Target & Consumer. I prefer Audience and People and here’s why:

A Target is something we aim for, shoot at, maybe even kill. An Audience is something we try to impress. An audience gives us a chance to prove our worth, they invest their time in us and we must respect it by trying to over deliver to their expectations. In the hope that, they throw flowers on the stage, cheer and ask for an encore. But we enter the stage knowing we may get rotten tomatoes thrown at us, if that’s what we deserve. The onus is on us.

A Consumer is someone who buys stuff. Their primary purpose is to devour whatever we provide. They are faceless, nameless and irrelevant. We want as many of them as possible to fulfill our financial needs. A Person however, is someone we know. A person has emotions, ambitions and meaning in their life. They have opinions which we must value, and a life which we need to enhance. A person is someone we hope to relate to on a human level. A consumer is machine like and undervalued.

The best startups and brands, know that they need to perform for their audience. They know that audiences are made up of people.

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Everything to everyone

We live in a wordy world. It seems there’s a new acronym, piece of business jargon, or self defining adjective emerging every minute of the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the language, the jargon and forget what business and startups are all about:

Building stuff. Buying something for $1 and selling it for $2. Having a laugh along the way.

Keep it simple. Don’t try and be everything to everyone.

With all this in mind I’ll hand over to George Carlin – and yes, this video is worth every second of the 3.56 minutes it takes to watch.

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