The saying goes ‘timing is everything’… but the more salient point hinges on the reason why! This understanding is critical.
I’ve worked in the technology sector for a long time. So long in fact jargon rolls right off my tongue. Fortunately a lot of my friends work in the same space so my alien language isn’t criticised too often. And as the connection between technology and marketing grows I feel almost normal saying things like ‘on-demand’. Well, almost normal. The truth is tech-speak has become part of the common vernacular. When Microsoft began marketing ‘the cloud’ to the broader public, you could feel the change. It was also evidenced recently when I attended Mumbrella360. I had the privilege to hear from a technology innovator in Uber, who is every bit a marketing sensation and technology visionary, as it is a handy little app for the consumer. There’s just something about tech companies – they inherently get it. The session was entitled ‘How to stay relevant in the collaborative economy’.
What was particularly interesting about this session was how Uber was continuing to evolve its offering. When it shared a stunt it did in New York which enabled customers to ‘dial a kitten’ to play with for the afternoon, you could see there and then, its vision was much greater than disrupting the taxi industry. It was much more than a stunt. For me it was plain and clear – no longer should organisations create on-demand products and services, it’s all about on-demand emotions!
Let me back up a little. I want to explain because this has been a long time in the making.
In the 1940s Toyota began implementing a process where it assembled its cars just-in-time (JIT), to make the manufacturing process more efficient, relevant and to avoid overhead costs like inventory management. It was known as Kanban, or lean production. It focused on logistics. It was all about Toyota. Today we see a similar thing, but the emphasis has been inverted – it’s not about the supplier, it’s all about the consumer – from on-demand music services like Spotify, to 3D printing, to Uber delivering cats. In 2014 it’s about our desire to feel a certain way whenever we want and how organisations are facilitating it.
Let me give you an example. Say you’ve had a rough day in the office. You want it to be over. While we can’t yet control time, you can control (or at least manipulate) almost everything else. You turn to Siri to pick your quickest route home. When you get there you crank up your favourite playlist from the cloud and by the time track three begins your kitten has arrived to take your mind off the fact you left your guitar in the taxi on the way home from a gig the previous night. Oh, and you do this while your 3D printer makes you a new one. For the record, I’m more a dog person and I have a HTC phone, but you get my point. This is the economy of tomorrow – emotions on-demand. In fact first movers are probably those in the pharmaceutical industry, but that’s a whole other story!
For a Comms Pro, what does all that mean?
We need to be students of psychology! Most firms are talking about adding data analysts to their ranks, but for me staff that have studied psychology should be prioritised above them. If we can’t communicate the emotional benefit of engaging with a product, service, or organisation, our value is severely limited. Emotions motivate action. There are lots of theories about how and they apply to public relations as much as they do content marketing.
We must model a human-centric approach. In our own actions we need to lead the rest of the business world in the journey towards co-creation of experience. Products and services will grow organically in community spurred on by peer-to-peer interaction, so we need to develop agile, out of the box thinking to show how this can be commercialised.
We have to have a deeper understanding of technology. This is fundamental because our consumption of these experiences will be in the form of augmented humanity – a phrase coined by Eric Schmidt of Google fame. This is the idea that technology will be interwoven with self, feeding off our basic instincts and enhancing them in real time to super-charge our experiences and emotions.
We are obliged to evangelise innovation. Timing is everything, and the reason why relates to the fact that it beats on with or without us. Our fascination with recording and sharing on social media is our best attempt at stretching out moments that are lost as soon as they happen. Not only do we desire to control our emotions, but we desire to subvert their attachment to the stave of life that houses them. As Comms Pros we are custodians of story telling and we have to connect the innovators with the operators. We can’t make the day go any faster or slower, but we can reshape the experience so that it doesn’t matter.
– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter