If found in this condition, do not resuscitate.
IBM Wearable Computer
Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, began his keynote at the University of Michigan commencement ceremony with something that seemed appropriate for marketing, or at least what people who talk about advertising seem to think it’ll turn into.
“You can’t plan a script. The beauty of improvisation is you’re experiencing it in the moment. If you try to plan what the next line is supposed to be, you’re just going to be disappointed when the other people on stage with you don’t do or say what you want them to do and you’ll stand there frozen.”
We all know that improv is the future of advertising. Or at least people think that it’s the future. Or at least I did when I wrote a post about marketing turning into jazz a few years ago.
But those were simpler times. Back before marketing folks figured out that posting innane things on Facebook once a day was a good way to tell their C-Suite that they were doing the Internet, just like the man on the TV said to do.
“Look at all that engagement!” they tell their colleagues while pointing at pages of badly written, uninteresting, incredibly useless noise.
If your teacher’s a Pepper, treat them with a Pepper.
Pepper in Pepper is perfection.
Start with a Pepper and finish with a Pepper.
Life: That thing you do in between Peppers.
So, Internet crisis averted. Let’s make more TV spots!
But, then the power went out at the Super Bowl and Oreo tweeted an instagram hashtag that spawned a few thousand marketing blog posts.
Real Time Marketing was here.
“Finally!” exclaimed the press and douchebag marketing bloggers, “The Future has come!”
Not to disregard the Oreo thing, because it was pretty cool. But I’m not convinced that sort of thing will scale well. It will definitely try to scale. Like some awful toenail fungus.
But there’s a chance that the only long term effect of their success will involve every brand under the sun pointing at things and yelling like an overly sugared two-year old.
I have a two year old. He points out every stop sign and school bus that we see when we’re out for a drive. But timeliness doesn’t necessarily equal relevance. Right?
Put a bunch of important people with MBAs in a room with a 24-year old social media guy and call it a Command Center if you’d like, but that’s not going to ensure business moving, or even good, ideas. What we’re going to wind up with is very loud social streams full of brands shouting and pointing and jumping up and down while trying to be clever. That doesn’t sound very futuristic to me. It sounds like spam. No one likes spam. Except for my parents in the 80s. But that was a weird time for everyone.
This is all why I tried to avoid any SXSW panels put on by agencies or marketing people. The whole business seems like it’s trying to find new ways to hassle people or trick people more effeciently rather than do a better job with the tools we already have or finding better ways of communicating with people.
We find ads to be annoying, but my son’s generation is growing up without advertising. He doesn’t even know what it is. Which could mean that they’re not going to have the same tolerance of it and are unlikely to allow it into their lives as readily as we do. There’s good odds that what marketing people make now will be considered spam in a decade or two. Big data or small data or whatever data.
All of this is going to require deeper solutions than hashtags, real time photoshopping and inviting people to “tell us your story.” Using digital media well is going to require a notoriously dumb industry to finally have some respect for the people they are trying to market to. Which is why I love the digital space and the technology that screens out ads people don’t want to see. It’s going to make the world better by forcing marketing to be better for everyone involved.
I’ve been getting fiddly with my task management apps again over the past few days, mostly because I’ve been listening to Merlin Mann’s podcast and Omnifocus keeps coming up in his rambles. Well honestly, it’s also because I love Cultured Code’s Things. It’s been hugely influential in getting my life more organized. But there are a few gripes that I have with it. Namely: I want to be able to email tasks to it and I want it to play nicely with other services like Dropbox and Evernote.
So I started out today thinking that I’d give Omnifocus the ol’ 14 day free try. It’s very feature rich, and a lot of the big famous productivity nerds use it. But the more I think about it, the more I think that using an app for the long term that you outright buy a license for is a good way to find yourself at the mercy of an unresponsive developer.
There’s simply no need for a sales based dev to be listen to their users. Once they’ve sold you a license, you transition from paying customer to liability. For them, it’s about keeping people just happy enough so that new customers continue to buy in. I think this is why Things has been so slow to interate and improve. Cultured Code is a business that’s based on selling new licenses of Things, not on keeping longtime users happy. Maybe it’s not intentional, but without that motivation, it seems to be happening.
Which brings me back to Nozbe. I’ve tried Nozbe out twice and found plenty to like and dislike. It does a pretty good job of syncing with other services and I LOVE that you can email tasks into it. That is one huge broken problem with my workflow right now. Also, I like that it makes more explicit use of GTD contexts than Things. Yes, you can use tags for this in Things, but it’s easy to get lazy about contexts when they’re not built into the system.
However, I’ve quit using it very quickly both times for a couple reasons:
But all of that will eventually have to be fixed because they are a subscription based service. They make money so long as their users continue to be happy. Because of that, it can seem pricy. But I think the value of having a company that is dedicated to keeping their users is probably worth it in the end.
I’m not really sure what my point is with all of this, but I think I may have talked myself into giving Nozbe a third shot.
Instead of actually getting things done.