The business card is dead, long live the virtual business card.
I had a lovely conversation with two young entrepreneurs from New York and when it was time to part ways, I used that old line: “Here, let me give you my card.” They both paused, looking unsure about whether or not I was serious. Then I saw the understanding wash over them. I was speaking a forgotten language. A business card. How precious. One kindly accepted it anyway. The other craned his neck to copy my email address into his Hashable account and instantly sent me his virtual business card instead. With that small paper rectangle, I’d outed myself as a square.
Barry Mowszowski, recently appointed creative strategy director at the Sydney offices of Starcom MediaVest Group, spoke at the first of the Australian INfront Insight talks last night at the Apple Store in downtown Sydney, and discussed the challenges, and opportunities, facing brands in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
His intention, in a talk titled “Brands Instigating Social Change – Profit + Purpose”, aside from outlining changing consumer perception of brands, was also to trigger debate and discussion in the advertising and marketing industry regarding brands, corporate social responsibility, and their part in encouraging responsible consumer behaviour.
Following are a few stand-out points from last night’s talk:
- Consumers adopted a “live well, spend less” (a phrase appearing on a November 2008 cover of the New York Magazine) thinking during the GFC.
- Despite this very few brands have adjusted to changed consumer expectations after the GFC.
- Consumers want to see brands giving more back to the community, not just their shareholders.
- Consumers are becoming less tolerant of bullshit from brands.
- Brands need to adopt a genuine corporate social responsibility policy, rather than treating it merely as a “check-list” item.
- Increasingly consumers are looking to brands to encourage responsible behaviour and social change.
- Indeed brands need to become positive instigators of social change.
- These goals are not straightforward however as brands need to reconcile shareholder value against cultural value.
- Levis are an example of a brand who reinvented themselves through social awareness campaigns, and their “Water<Less” jeans.
- Brands need to do more to encourage the desire of consumers to share, rather than own products, through car and bike sharing services for instance.
- Brands need to give more thought to “Cultural KPIs”, and redefine their measures of success.
- There needs to be less focus on stimulating consumerism in favour of material accumulation with purpose.
- Consumers would be happy to pay more for goods or services were brands to reinvest in the future of their customers.
Mowszowski also made a number of suggestions as to how several well known brands could become more socially responsible.
The presentation was recorded and I will post links to the video and podcast as soon as I can.
Alan Penn, a scientist at the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment, part of the University College London, claims to have to uncovered the strategy used by superstore retail chain IKEA to entice its customers to buy more items than they originally intended to… a situation that is probably familiar to many of us:
Using a strategy employed by out-of-town retail parks – “trapping” the customers in store for as long as they can – IKEA places as many distractions as possible between the customer and the item they may have come for. The path is “effectively their catalog in physical form” says Penn. “You’re directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like light bulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren’t planning on getting … Because the layout is so confusing you know you won’t be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your [cart] as you go past.”
I’m not sure I’d call IKEA’s floor layouts confusing, but there’s no denying they’re trying to put as much merchandise in front of their customers as possible. I’ve always come home with a few extra items after a trip to IKEA, but given such jaunts are three to four years apart, I can’t really say it bothers me greatly.
Featuring a beautiful, or very attractive model, in product advertising does – surprise, surprise – have a positive impact on consumers’ perceptions of said product… but really only so long as the product is beauty related.
For the participants who didn’t think much, the presence of a more attractive model led them to rate both products more positively. However, for those participants who thought harder about the ad, the more attractive model only led to higher ratings for the diet product, not the deodorant. This was taken as evidence that when people think about adverts, an attractive model is only beneficial when beauty is relevant to the product being advertised.
If you had no more than fifteen seconds to describe yourself, your work, artistic style or styles, plus a significant achievement or two, while you had the attention of an art gallery director, or publicist, or someone else who was well connected, how would you fare? Might you be left ruing a missed opportunity, or glowing, having succeed in opening a couple of doors?
There’s a lot of talk about elevator statements, or pitches, but very few people appreciate their value, or realise they actually need to be their own marketing department, until they find themselves having to sum up who they are, to someone they’ve meet randomly, and quite literally, while in a rapidly moving lift.
Like it or not brevity is in favour, and if someone cannot make sense of, or comprehend, a statement that isn’t framed within the confines of a 140 character long tweet, give or take, you are likely to lose their attention. Being able therefore to get to the point, and fast, is an advantage and a skill well worth honing.
Given no two artists or creatives are the same, there is no one-size-fits-all elevator statement, but so long as your narrative consists of a couple of key ingredients, you should have little trouble crafting something that is unique, informative, and most importantly, memorable.
If you’re still wondering how you could word yourself, or possibly summarise your background and work inside of ten to fifteen seconds, for a little inspiration read through the following examples of elevator statement style bios of a few other artists and creatives.
Evangeline Cachinero is a creative dynamo. She has an insatiable appetite for experimenting with art and new mediums including painting, collage, sewing, digital media and DIY projects. Having studied at six different universities in Australia, USA and New Zealand, she has a deep understanding of art and its complexities.
Tony Gorsevski is a Melbourne-based photographer specializing in architecture, interiors, commercial and fine art photography, where varied creations and perspectives are assembled and combined to extraordinary effect.
Vexta is an artist from Australia. She grew up in Sydney but now lives and works in Melbourne. She has been creating street art since the mid 2000’s and is most famously known for her stencils and paste ups which draw from cultural visual debris, her self taught aesthetic and an ongoing exploration of photography, printmaking and painting.
Dan Gray aka Little Gonzales:
Little Gonzales (Dan Gray) lives in Sydney and draws pictures – only because the voices in his head tell him to. As well as illustration and design, he also dabbles in print-making, animation, photography and web design.
Another way to look at an elevator pitch is to consider it a condensed version of your job description. Also remember that being able to sum up who you are, and your work, comprehensively yet succinctly will have value in itself, and you’ll be perceived as the pro that you are.
In addition, an elevator statement also makes for a fine blog, Twitter, and Facebook bio as well, and is also useful when promoting upcoming exhibitions as you have a ready made summary of who you are and what your work is about.
Choosing to live a simple, minimal, life is one thing, but what happens when you have young children, who are constantly being targeted by advertising and marketing campaigns, enticing and tempting them to want ever more toys and possessions?
When you choose to raise your children in a frugal, non-consumerism sort of way, you are going against a powerful advertising media. Images of the latest movie and its accompanying toys, video games, and action figures are all over the walls, cups, trays, and containers of fast-food restaurants. Television commercials tempt your children with compelling advertising, making your children think they just have to have the latest cereal, candy, video game, or toy.
Seven British smartphone app entrepreneurs discuss creating and selling apps for the iPhone. If you can strike upon the right idea you could do well as an app developer…
Thanks to the relative ease of fashioning an app (using a dedicated “developer’s kit”, which makes programming reasonably pain-free), around 15,000 are submitted to Apple every week for approval and sale through its App Store. The majority are created not by traditional software giants, but by individuals, working from home.
Today filmmakers post video snippets of selected movie scenes online to help drum up interest in upcoming film releases.
With no such option available to the promoters of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, they instead created a telephone hotline allowing people to call in and hear audio teasers recorded by the film’s stars, including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, and James Earl Jones.
As reported in the Spring 1980 issue of Bantha Tracks – the original Star Wars Fan Club newsletter – a telephone hotline was set up to allow callers to dial in and hear teasers for The Empire Strikes Back several months before the film’s release.
The idea might still make for a retro-styled form of promotion today though.
Endorsements work as a means of advertising more because we have enjoyed an aspect of an endorsing celebrity’s work, rather than taking too much in the way of assurance from their “support” of a product or service.
According to Stallen and her colleagues, these results suggest “the perception of a celebrity face results in the retrieval of explicit memories” – say, of a fun night out with friends, during which you enjoyed the actor’s latest movie. “The positive affect that is experienced during the retrieval of these memories may subsequently be transferred to the product associated with the celebrity,” they write.