Appropriately enough, a concept has me in it’s thrall. A thought that has grown out of pondering the impact of the Internet on the age old art of persuasion. Such pondering has distilled down to this concept:
Tell a compelling truth to those that want to hear it.
Simple? You bet it is. But to fully embrace the inevitability of it, you have to shed years of Madison Avenue indoctrination, and understand how the Age of Information is changing the way people communicate and learn.
I have understood this on an intuitive level ever since I first heard of AdWords and was captivated by Google’s strident advertising ethic based on relevance and accuracy. That was a glimpse into something much larger than just advertising. As I have learned more about the so called Web 2.0 phenomenon, especially as it applies to search and social media, my intuition has become a creed.
Often I say that in order for my work to be as effective as it can be certain pieces have to be in place. First, my client/prospect needs to offer a product, service, or advocate a cause, that has value. Make that Value with a capital V. Second, that product, service, or cause must be presented on the Internet in a manner that does it justice. Then we must distill that value down to one or more identifiable compelling truths, and target the specific audiences that truly want to engage those truths. This applies to a great buy on a product, a respected professional service, inspiring works of art, a timely social-political issue, entertainment, etc.
Whatever form the value takes, I see a new marketing ethic emerging that focuses on not only identifying and communicating that value, but also identifying the likeliest benefactors and their communication proclivities. Not to persuade so much as to engage, inform.
The persuasion is in the truth.
As obvious as that may sound, that is not what most people seem to do. Most are so indoctrinated with the best-biggest-brightest, mentality of Broadcast advertising that they lose sight of where the true value is in their proposition and to whom it is valuable.
As a result we get Propaganda:
- Fabricating a truth for those most susceptible.
or Preaching to the Choir:
- Pandering the obvious to the self serving
- or Broadcast Advertising (dare I say it, Spam)
- Bombarding the disinterested in a search for the few.
I’ll stop with the self-righteousness before it gets too far out of hand and get back to Business Blogging. But I am so glad to finally be in a profession that matches my personal ethic, and to see that ethic in ascendancy in many facets of life due to the marriage of technology and information.
That does not mean there isn’t a corresponding explosion of misinformation to go along with populace fact-finding and the subsequent truth as consensus. This informational slope has it’s fair share of slippery spots. The shift from salesmanship to advocacy is a cumbersome one, and does not preclude those with bad or misguided intent from muddying the waters as they have since the dawn of human communication.
I’m in the advertising business for goodness sakes, where lines are fine. One persons truth may be another’s malarkey. But I, along with many of my contemporaries, have a compass to try and steer by. The points of that compass are truth, relevance, transparency, and value.
Progress is messy thing. But I am positively optimistic, on the whole. Know your value, know those that can benefit, and thrive.