Most people enjoy being entertained, even beyond what is reasonable for the health of our psyches. Witness how billions around the globe have been seduced by television. If Karl Marx were living today he would surely insist that television is the opiate of the masses. Despite the Internet’s rising popularity, television remains king of the hill.
The convergence of text, graphics, full-motion video, and sound into powerful web-based story-telling technologies will transform the business world long before it changes the viewing habits of television’s captive audience. In the B2B universe, where sales cycles are longer, and revenue per transaction greater, their impact is likely to be the most dramatic.
Marketing has always been about telling stories. And now technology has taken story telling to an entirely new level. Despite the dot-com implosion, where the marketing machines lost all sense of reality, multi-media significantly enhances the spinning of a good (credible) yarn, and technology will continue to lead the way. However, it is the clever use of these technologies by old economy corporations that will signal the dawn of a new era.
When I search the web looking for products I am not interested first and foremost in brand. I am interested in acquiring the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision. I read product data sheets, review white papers and case studies, and expect to be sold, and yes, entertained. How so? If your content is boring, if it is comprised of pages and pages of pure text, you are going to lose my interest real fucking quick. I will be at one of your competitor’s sites faster than you can blink.
We know a lot about how brands have worked in the past. But now more than ever, there is evidence that our knowledge of brands isn’t enough for these times.
—Young & Rubicam Executive, Advertising Age International, September 19, 1994.
Regis McKenna, Silicon Valley marketing guru, makes the following observation about the changing nature of brands:
Brands had the effect of “reducing or eliminating the need to find out about a product before buying it,” as one marketing primer put it. But all that is now history. Branding of a new and entirely different kind is being born—brand as an encapsulation of actual, experienced value. The nature of that experience is increasingly determined through customer preferences expressed in dialog with producers or service providers—an exchange made possible by technology, and one in which the consumer has the upper hand.