And now for a little perspective…
I have a big problem with sloppy generalizations. Each time I come across one I get ticked off. Unfortunately once I get into that headspace it’s difficult to remember what the persons main point was.
Which leads me to this article by Martin Lindstrom, a man I respect and who’s book, Clicks, Bricks, and Brands, was one of my gospels when I was working in L.A. at the end of the Internet boom. Martin currently is evangelizing for social media and it’s impact on brands as far as I can tell. Truth be told, I was enjoying the article until I got to the second to last paragraph which claimed a whopper of a generalization, and poof! I can’t recall his salient points from the rest of the piece. I suspect I’m not alone in this phenom, it reminds me of how quickly consumers attention spans are lost when they hear or see something false in our new social networked world.
So what was it that caused me to become so discombobulated?
Most consumers see the Fortune 1000 brands as boring, slow, and old-fashioned.
Really? Crazy. You mean brands like:
And those were in the Fortune 50. Move into the Fortune 100 and you get to add in brands such as:
Now granted consumers may see these brands as slow, but that’s not really such a bad thing. They’ve been around for a while. It takes time to make things. People know that, they aren’t stupid. While they may not want to wait an hour for a download, they don’t mind waiting 2 years for the new X-Box 360. Ya know, they want the companies to get the product right before they sell it to them (okay, MSFT software not included).
Personally, if I were the CEO of #159 or #163 on the Fortune list and Mr. Lindstrom used that line on me, I’d laugh in his face.
Claiming that ‘most consumers think X’, is the same as saying ‘most MySpace users think…’ Umm, isn’t that completely contrary to engaging in a conversation with the customer and finding out what s/he think as individuals? This actually runs contrary to his wrap-up:
The brand manual can’t do the work any more. One-way communication can’t do it either. TV commercials are about to die. Print and radio are suffering immensely. The only steadily growing brand-building media is interactive. Two-way, multiway, reactive, responsive, receptive, and active communication is the future for brand communications. The consumer is ready to talk. Are you?
Well, yes, but not if you think you have all the answers already and know what I think.
And can we please stop saying TV commercials are about to die, or are dead. They aren’t. If anything, much to my chagrin, they’re becoming part of the fabric of the internet AND people are still watching them on TV. Hell, consumers are clamoring to make commercials for brands to air on TV (see: The Super Bowl). I’d also like a cease and desist put on claims that radio is dead (I think Clear Channel may beg to differ), print is dead, etc. The only thing dead in there are the trees.
Even Joseph Jaffe can’t shake the shackles of a TV mentality with his new title at crayon – Chief Interrupter. Humans evolve much slower than technology does.
It’s a big world out there and not everyone is hooked up, LinkedIn, texting, tagging, etc. People still go to stores because of the sales flyers that appear in their mailbox. They still recommend products that they discovered while in a mall to their friends when they’re sitting having coffee in real life. They still watch TV without cable, or god-forbid, a TIVO. Things are evolving and changing, yes, and in real-time, but trust isn’t built overnight or with one witty response to a blogger. So yes, your company needs to roll with it and allow the consumer to help drive, to have a sense of humour and a willingness to change, but you do still need to control the brand image and the direction of your messaging… and continue to make those products and deal with suppliers to get the item into the consumers hands. So if they take a day to answer a blogger and they’ve vetted it through their brand champion, I think I can deal.
What I can’t deal with is throwing around generalizations and acting like Chicken Little when trying to convince me I need to join the conversation.