Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Revolution will not televised

gil-scott heron had it right.

every 5 minutes (it feels like), someone asks me to work on a project, be part of a team or tells me about a "revolutionary" new way to approach advertising and marketing.

there's the incredible new car app - that resulted in an interactive billboard in times square that you could draw on from your iphone if you downloaded their app.

cute. and really fun. but it's a party trick. does it bring you closer to buying that car? does it speak to the car's benefits and your desires?

it seems like most of the earth-shattering new product development ideas are like that. gimmicks, party tricks or attention-grabbers, but unrelated to the the key - the reason you wanted anti-cold medicine or vitamin-enhanced energy bars to begin with. or they are personalizations - just a step ahead of the old nike id - you can choose the color, the laces and the logo - but it's still the same shoe. you can't turn it into a hiking sandal, a boot or gloves. and, of course, the big brother corporation will still limit how far your "individuality" can go. thus they are not customization, just variations.

the point is - breaking the mold isn't just changing the shape of the mold - it doesn't mean putting your print ads online and/or making them interactive. it's not enough to just keep bombarding consumers with the same stuff with slight variations, in slightly different formats.

as consumers, we're fed up. we're no longer willing to drop our dollars on novelty items that are not much better than what we had before.

so what is new?

1. start with product development - try and think like a start-up - what is missing in people's lives? where's the hole? what do people really want? what do you really want?

if you're stuck, think BIG. think macro.

what do we all need? food, shelter, water, air. and then work your way backwards until you arrive at the beautiful, insulated teapot that pours perfectly, keeps your tea warm for hours and has a leaf strainer so efficient that you will never go back to tea bags. price it fairly. package it enticingly.

but re-bottling an old product you have and then trying to make your target market love it is sneaky, unless you really can fulfill a need. try and solve a problem beautifully and elegantly.

ask yourself WHY DO WE EXIST? why is this product necessary?

if you're interested in longevity, design AND substance matter.

2. think about new ways to talk to people. think about how you respond yourself. think of ways in which to bring the consumer into the story, to speak to them respectfully, to really listen to their desires. it's no longer tv commercials or tv commercials on youtube.

it's communication that adds richness and density to their lives.

it's more than just a packaged, sponsored sale pitch, it's something that allows you to feel the fingerprints of the maker still smudged into the surface.

it's something that makes you feel connected to something bigger and more important.

or something that makes you see the incredible beauty in minute detail perfected. come on, zen buddhists know all about this.

it's not about your methods of communication, it's about your ability to reach into people's souls. and really speak to them. honestly. with love, intelligence and caring.

it's not shiny and plastic.

it's deep and complicated and very pleasurable. but also trustworthy.

that is the revolution.