While I personally reject modern technology and lament the increasing rarity of books, isn’t it all information after all? From the printing press tearing down knowledge-based hierarchies, to the television exporting culture to every corner of the world, to the Internet now democratizing opinion making (and seeking), isn’t information and its transference still the same? I would argue that while in essence this is true, the medium in which we consume information greatly impacts how we see it, what we learn from it and most importantly, what we do with it.
1st how we see it…
It is a long standing truth that people best consume information visually. Any marketer or presenter worth his salt will tell you that an image far outweighs the power of words. But what if your goal is to inspire and spawn new ideas. A picture just represents a moment. Stories, however, force you to imagine. I am not about to replace my visual presentations with a load of text, nor do I suggest you do the same, but what I am saying is that when you want to inspire and have your audience dream with you – a picture, an ad – is not enough. It’s the story that matters.
2nd what we learn from it…
Conversely, demonstration and engagement are the best tools for learning. I lovingly remember reading Richard Feynman talking about how his dad, who he credited his curiosity to, would show him the length of a whale (for instance) by physically walking its length. If you want someone to learn something, there is no “multimedia” slideshow that’s going to make that happen. You must enable your audience to create and thus own the [learning] experience. Only then can they internalize it into something they will use long after the training is over.
3rd what you do with it…
Finally, what media are best to make people act? Whether it’s a customer who drags on signing a contract, or a consumer who has to look down an aisle and among dozens of options choose your product, what media makes people pull the trigger? The fact is there is no single medium that does that. People act (buy, like, sign on, whatever) when the action makes them feel good. Your customer feeling good is not achieved with an ad, even if it has a hot woman in it. Your customer feeling good is the end result of every single encounter they have had with you up until the point of purchase. That is called a brand.
It stuns me that I still have to convince fellow business people about the importance of brand. They say – “in my business that’s not important” OR “I have a guy who designs for us” OR “I do all my business through relationships”. Brand is not about the industry, design or your connections. Brand is about creating a positive, trustworthy, consistent relationship with customers so that when it is time to buy, they buy from you.
The bottom line
Media doesn’t matter. It’s how and when you use it, on a brand that means something, that counts.