What hope for the poor communications professionals in big companies with high ambition, even higher performance targets, but for the most part, dwindling sales figures ? How are they to stem the tide of falling figures, and the resulting cuts to the all important communication's budget ?
The answer of course, is that exclusive but elusive magic formula which rarely comes about unless as the fruit of one supremely clear thinking mind, shared and applied by talented people using their own skills and judgement to decline and disperse the message, as best benefitting the Brand.
The tools and the instruments available to achieve these aims, are the flora and the fauna of what was once a neatly arranged garden, where TV and Print were the king and queen of the summer ball. We all knew what to wear, how to behave and how to influence those who aspired to be a part of the glamorous life-style portrayed in our ads, and on the pages of our glossy magazines.
The arrival of internet, lobbed a grenade plumb into the centre of the front lawn, scattering the digital seeds of wild grasses and fruits, and spawning new hybrid creatures which have since devoured the native white peacocks of that once safe haven.
Business communications are now the jungle, where the rules we knew no longer apply. Fast growing creepers will carry a message or a brand-name across the entire landscape in a single season, smothering the boughs and branches of more established brands.
Whilst it is important to distinguish Fashion from Luxury in the context of this metaphor, the new nature of digital communication has democratised even the upper echelons price and exclusivity, making the means of communication, as varied and as delicate as the species which inhabit the ecosystem, a fundamental choice in terms of style and sensibility. This has always been the case, but now even more so.
What was once a neat rose-bed of options, is now a riot of flour shape and fragrance, and wining the attention of the customer has to be on a one-to-one basis. Our flower must be global, local and appeal directly to the individual.
The tools we have to accomplish this, are diverse, smart and engineered to generate hyperbole for KPIs, and affirmation of ROI. I have participated in meetings and heard an excruciating overuse of the term "experience" in relation to the dullest and least compelling messaging imaginable, simply because it is dressed up in tricksy digital bling.
But guys and gals....sorry you disappoint you; these offerings are NOT "experiences"; they are hollow and transparent attempts to push product directly into consumers faces, or through their cyber-letterboxes, which may well tick boxes in the course material you studied for your Digi-business MBAs, but sure as hell don't set pulses racing, or "share" buttons sharing.
Customer engagement relies on human emotion, and whilst "anger" qualifies, usually just after receiving the n'th e-card in a month, it's not really doing the trick. Emotion ranges from fun, love and generosity, to quirkier and darker areas of the human mind, but it does touch you in one way or another.
The best vehicles for these messages, remain without exception, music, film,and photographs, not necessarily featuring a car, a cell-phone, or a life-changing hand-bag.
Raw, faithful-to-life, geez-that-could-be-me storylines, sentiments and shared knowledge, will endear you to your desired audience, far more than terabytes of pixelated product animation.
I don't mean to beat up on the masters of coding and html, as these tools have a very very significant place in this new communications environment, people are people, not lab rats, and content needs a recipe to nourish, not a formula to feed saccharin addiction.
One flower - one bee !