Programming Gran’s VCR
While running a focus group with 16-year-old boys recently, I realised two things about the yoof of today.
Realisation #1: in their eyes, I am now unequivocally, undeniably, 100 per cent old.
When a focus group respondent explains his use of social media to you using exactly the same tone you used to explain to Gran how to programme her VCR in 1990, you know you’re past it.
Show me the money
Realisation #2: they’ve got a hard-headed, and deeply mercenary, attitude to marketing communications way beyond their years. Ayn Rand would be proud. They get the game and they are experts at extracting what they want from it.
There has always been an implicit value exchange lurking behind marketing communications. Give us 30 seconds of your time between TV programmes and we’ll try to entertain you, for example.
Digital can make that value exchange much more explicit by being more nakedly transparent about what we want from people and what we are providing in return. On the basis of that night’s groups, it’s a smart way to go.
You scratch my back…
Cashback sites – companies that share affiliate revenues with consumers that buy through them – are perhaps the most basic, and blatant, example of this.
But it’s not all about direct sales mechanics.
I’ve always been a fan of pay-with-a-tweet models where brands exchange reach in return for something of value. Special K’s recent Tweet Shop is just the most recent consumer-facing example.
Or it could just be taking the time to properly respond to people who have taken the time to engage with you. Witness Bodyform’s takedown this week of a male poster’s tongue-in-cheek complaint about their unrealistically rosy portrayal of women’s ‘monthlies’ (copyright: Gran, 1954) in their ads.
I do like a brand that can laugh at itself.