These days, the talk in advertising is all about the new -- and relentlessly evolving -- digital media landscape. What's the latest, the coolest, the hottest? Get me a Facebook page, gotta be Tweeting, where's my iPhone app. (By the time this appears, I'm sure the latest shiny media object will already be making me sound old-fashioned.) It's important, at the end of the year, to remind ourselves that it's not only about the technology.
I'd like to redirect your attention, then, away from the glowing screen, and toward the real, super cool, truly amazing new gizmo -- the one that's really changing the way we communicate. It's that object on the other side of the screen. The new, evolved -- and still evolving -- person. Let's put down our iPhones for a few minutes, and take stock of how this new person has changed the way that we, as a creative community, have to think, conceive, create, connect... or risk being consigned to the proverbial dinosaur graveyard. If we focus less on technology itself, and more on the person engaged with it, we may even invent a few new media outlets of our own.
Here, then, a handful of things we'd be well advised to consider, even before we blurt out, "We need to be Tweeting!"
New people don't care about your brand. What people care about are themselves, their communities, their increasingly complex (and at times borderline unmanageable) lives. Listen to their cries. Help them. Give them tools to simplify, to connect, to succeed. Sure, could be a Web site. But it could also be a new GPS device that attaches to a diaper, and helps parents keep track of their free roaming children.
New people think they're pretty creative, too. Creativity is no longer the provenance of the trained professional. Nobody wants to marvel at your genius. What they want is for you to give them the means to express their own creativity. So be the spark, be the inspiration, provide some asserts, than sit back, and watch the creativity happen. It will. And you'll be the hero for it.
New people want to do the talking. Advertising people love to talk. But new people have taken over the conversation. So shut up and listen once in a while. Not only will people respect you for it, you may actually learn something valuable.
New people don't like to be interrupted. From the beginning, people had an understanding with their televisions. Give me free entertainment, and I'll listen to a few interruptive sales pitches to pay for the privilege. The understanding online is "Yo. This is my personal space, and my personal time." If you want to reach them there, don't interrupt their experience -- enrich it, add value to it.
New people want the truth, and nothing but. Now more than ever, brands need to be authentic, honest, and deliver real, tangible value. Fake it, and faster than you can say "clean coal," half the world will be talking about what a liar you are. Tell it like it is, and even if you expose a few well-branded warts, people will respect you for it.
New people listen to new people. Brands are suspect. Friends are not. So the real new media breakthrough ... is people. Engage them intelligently and respectfully. New people like to talk, they like to share, they like to learn, and they like to collaborate. So start a conversation -- give people the means to carry that conversation on, enrich it, personalize it -- give it the means to travel, and encourage it to take on a life of its own.
New people like free stuff. Why pay for it if you can get it for free online? And usually, you can. So if you believe in your product or service, if you really think you're on to something, give people a taste -- let them see how wonderful it is, make them want more. Then, after you've gained their trust, they'll be more than happy to pay for it.
New people still like to have fun. Thank god, some creative deliverables never change.