I have exposed myself to a number of new ideas (and reminders of old ones) over the last week, all about the present and future of marketing and advertising; and they are beginning to converge nicely.
Seth Godin says people are interested in what you do, and not what you say. It is true at a personal level, and it also applies to brands. We are all so cynical about what brands have to say, because we have heard it all. Our stance manifests itself in the fall of the power of mass media advertising. It is expressed when we change the channel or go to the bathroom instead of listening to big bugdet, flashy, celebrity featuring 30 second spot ads. Even if we choose to stay and listen, it is doubtful we have not heard it all before.
They say that in order to engage people, you have to tell them something that they are genuinely interested in. Your message needs to be meaningful, useful even, to the consumer. So I thought about what makes me listen to a branded message as a consumer. For me, it has to fit in one of the following criteria:
- Must be entertaining: I can laugh at your little joke but that doesn't make me believe you enough to listen to the rest of your pitch. It is much better if the message is part of my ongoing entertainment experience; like, say, gaming perhaps! It is best if the entertainment value of the experience makes me want to interact with your brand more.
- Must be educational: Are you just trying to take advantage of the fact that I don't know any better, or are you actually making an effort to give me the knowledge that can make me tell the good from the bad? If you want to educate me, I will trust you more. If your brand of 'good' is not rock solid, chances are you won't try to engage me in this way.
- Must be part of the solution to a real problem: Do you care about the things I care for? If so, are you just saying that or are you able to prove it? Even better, can you allow me to participate and contribute in meaningful ways? Coffee companies love telling us about the communities they help in third world countries. But how many of them actually fly their customers there as volunteers to actively participate in such help?
- Must be saying something I haven't heard before: Also known as innovation. Diamond shreddies, as much as I love the creative idea, don't really count.
So I reach two main conclusions:
The future evolution of marketing will favour those brands that do deliver on real values of honesty, compassion, responsibility, accountability, transparency, sustainability and all other virtues that were perhaps once deemed too altruistic for the marketing field. We will only want to listen to those that make genuine efforts at giving the consumers a better world in one way or another. We care about what you do, you better be doing something good, and it better be real.
Allow me to share this section of Dominic Basulto's blog post involving a quote from Ajaz Ahmed, the chairman and co-founder of independent digital marketing agency AKQA:
"The (advertising) agency of the future will be half a software company and half an entertainment company because that's the new landscape."
This was said in the context of "...how companies are now working with a broader mix of agencies and technology companies than ever before as they craft new marketing campaigns designed for the online space."
Half software, half entertainment you say... hmm... Does that sound like anyone you know, dear game devs?