So Over the BS

I have a big event to attend in a few days. I’ve been spending the weekend working on my pitch, making sure I sound professional and have the concepts digested down into their most basic form. The basic quesion is Where is the value add- why does this idea merit attention over all the others? Why should the client sink time, money and resources into making this a reality? Well, fortunately, these answers are easy. This is an easily defendable idea, not one of those ideas we saw in the first web expansion period, where sillier and sillier ideas kept being funded and then crashing when their product didn’t score with consumers.

It comes back to something I wrote about in an earlier post on my LD Podcast Blog – you have to look at the basic needs people have, and find a way to meet those needs. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you look at things that are wildly successful, at the root of each of these products, you find that they meet a very real world and neurological need.

The internet. Why does it work?

1. It is self organizing- no one runs it. It is democracy. So everyone can participate without too steep of a learning curve.

2. It fills our need to access information. With google, a quick string of words, and you answer just about any question you might have. You can locate resources, hard to find products, shop, predict the weather, apply to graduate school, anything at all.

3. It fills our need for community and connection. People are not solitary animals- they want to be with other, like minded creatures. And you can find those people much more readily on the itnernet than you can at your local sports bar, or unfortunately, even in your own household.

4. You can assert your status as a cool person, knowing more about these technologies than anyone else, and you can be an autonomous power of one- an individual who can contribute to conversations anywhere, anytime, or stake out your own homestead in the wilderness and build your own cult.

5. The right piece of information, to the right person, at the right time, can change the world. Ideas and content matter and are the currency of the internet- and meet our fundamental needs to be heard and acknowledged- this is the ancient greeks marketplace of ideas on steroids.

Ok, you are saying, I get it.  Find a Need, Fill a Need- wasn’t this the theme of that somewhat putrid movie Robots?

So Why, you are asking, is the title of the post So Over the BS?

Well, I was looking for some information this morning and went to a podcast from someone I respect tremendously. It ended up being a name dropping session of all the people who were getting to gether and talking about new media and its uses, but it was what we refer to as oral kegels around here. The lips are moving, but the rest is “Content free speech”.  I had to turn it off.  No nutrition here, on this episode, at all in the first 10 minutes-so I am gone, out of there, and I dunno when I’ll return.  Gimme the meat- skip the appetizers and the drinks for social lubrication- get down to the heart of it all ready! Not only that, the content was not helpful- just self promoting and self congratulatory. So, I am proud of you, my friend, for meeting so many people, and trying to move the conversation forward, but let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

If you want to make this new media space pay, you need to first read the following books: The Long Tail; The World is Flat; The Tipping Point; Blink; and Freakanomics. Advanced students will want to add Now Discover your Strengths and other books by Marcus Buckingham. Read, put in a blender and meditate on these for a while. Marinate well.

Add the information about meeting basic human needs, and know what the internet is good at, and what it is not.

And then, design ideas and programs that use the tools to their best advantage.

The internet, blogging, video, podcasts- whatever- are just tools. Content is king- ideas- the intellectual property, is what is important, and that is the value add. The tools are ways to get the content of any message heard in an efficient, and hopefully entertaining way. The reinvention of marketing involves connecting consumers to brands as never before.  If you are going to do marketing, you need to know how to make products and ideas useful to Joe Six pack, or whoever the market is.  Ask yourself the hard questions- Why is this thing necessary?  Why does my aunt, mother, son need one of these things?  Who does need one?  Does it solve a real problem, and if it does, how important is that problem?

For example, I will admit I do not get SecondLife at all. Number one- it doesn’t work well, and the learning curve on the thing is steep. Number 2- it’s an interactive video game you can use for business purposes, yes, but it’s not where I need to burn time and cash-let me call the person I need to speak with, or conference call-I have VOIP in the office, so it doesn’t cost anything, so who cares?  I’m not sure I care to do business with people who can’t pay for the phone call, you know?

Now podcasting I can get.  Videoblogging and videocasting I get.  Bruce Springsteen’s 57 channels and nothing’s on sums up the purpose for these things in a moment.   But Second Life- an interesting experiment, and I am sure it has made the originators wealthy, but not an idea or thing I can’t live without.  It doesn’t really meet the above tests.  The same need can be met in simplier, less complicated ways.  It’s cute, but I don’t want clients spending ridiculous amounts of time learning this flukey system for the minimal paybacks.  If I want a book from amazon, or a T-shirt from Ambercrombie, I don’t need to go to Second Life to make it happen.  Pointless calories out, for little real return.

So, I am so tired of the “new media, new media” propoganda without any real substance behind it.  New media is a collection to tools and ways to connect people in a very personal way, much more one to one and many to many than the One to many model used in traditional media.  So let’s get real and substantive and move ideas and content forward, and stop using chalk and crayons when we need to use sharpies and mont blanc fountain pens to sign real deals in the real world.

(boy am I cranky today!)

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