I want to tell you the tale of two companies both trying to reach part of the community they serve and how one failed and the other nailed it. Why this is important is because it ties closely to the way customers choose to spend their money these days. They want companies who understand their world, and they want to feel like they’re with a company that cares about what they like.
This isn’t really a story about Fortnite, but it is
If you have a kid between 8 years old and 50, you might have already heard about Fortnite. The video game which launched in 2017 has already raced to 200 million active users (75 million in just the last six months). They passed a billion dollars in revenue last July, and will quite likely make a big year end revenue goal announcement.
Communications and marketing and computing in general is moving beyond the keyboard and text faster and faster. PC and laptop sales continue to decline EXCEPT for 2-in-1s (those laptops that fold into tablets) and hybrids (Microsoft Surface tablets, ipads with keyboards). What’s coming in their place?
In the home, Amazon’s Echo platform (Alexa!) has audio and video models. Google Home does, as well. Facebook is rolling out Portal. All of these respond to your voice.
I just deleted an email without reading it (like you do). The subject line was “Not your typical Monday email.” I deleted it because I knew without a doubt that it would definitely be a typical email. (I just fished it out of the trash. It was a sales offer. Pretty typical. No?)
I’m told by so many people that email marketing is dead or that they have low open rates or that no one cares about email any more. I’m also told that no one reads email any more.
The biggest opportunity all this technology has afforded us is the chance to share what we find interesting and to potentially connect with others we can help or who can enrich our lives or businesses. Formally or otherwise, we have the most opportunity ever, in the history of humans, to connect with people who are into what you are into. It’s baffling how few people choose to take advantage of this.
Use Your Voice
On the lighter side, if you really love recreating junk food in your kitchen, you could start the “Not Twinkies” website. If you are a LEGO minifig modifier who takes existing sets to create your own masterpieces, I know for sure there are others who love what you do. There’s a bunch of people out there, no matter what, who want to talk about what you want to talk about.
On any given day, I might say, “Hey Google – where’s the nearest Dave and Busters?” I might ask “Alexa, reorder some more black socks.” I speak to the air and something comes back that I need or want. This is where we’re going. There will be keyboards, but we’ll interact in a lot of other ways, too.
A World Beyond Keyboards
I’m fascinated by the premise of this product. It’s something my son could create on the one hand. On the other, it points to a way that we’re not YET using computers and interfaces. The idea is that you use this eight-sided device as an Internet-of-Things (IoT) input to report on the various ways you use your time in a day. Switch it to “client work” and then switch it to “personal time,” and the chart will reflect those inputs.
Here’s something you never hear. I asked my 12 year old son what he was doing this past Saturday afternoon. “Playing a math game from school.” Huh? By the next day, my 16 year old daughter was also playing. I asked her if it was challenging at all. She said, “I guess I needed to get back to the basics.”
In all business and life, there are basics and fundamentals. It’s what we all learn and then proceed to forget or abandon. We worry about the big stuff or the “new” and the tricky. But we lose sight of the absolute level one work that earns us a chance to succeed. There are basics all around us.
Last night, Jac and I went to see the new Tom Hardy movie, Venom. It’s yet another superhero movie with a slight twist: Venom is a murderous alien parasite and at best can be labeled an anti-hero. The movie topped the box office for its opening weekend, earning $80 million (double the next best movie) and setting a record for October releases. But critics didn’t like the movie. It’s sitting at a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, for instance.
Robots already vacuum the floors in lots of people’s homes. They mow lawns. They deliver things in some cities. It looks weird and futuristic until it somehow looks normal and commonplace. We rarely see the “future” when it’s already here.
We Make the Future Invisible Because We Want Solid Ground
I’ve spent a lot of my career on the other side of the hill from where most people are doing business. When people were just getting comfortable with fax orders, I was seeing that this web thing might be more important. When people built their first websites, I saw that tools like Twitter would be a powerful opportunity to reach out and connect with people in a better way. It’s not at ALL that I’m smarter. It’s that I’m willing (maybe even primed) to see how to slot “what’s next” into “what we do right now.” In some ways, that’s because I’m willing to throw away what I have right now in any aspect of my business.
As I plow through the writing for my tenth book, Be Where They Are. Go Where They’re Going, what I’m most concerned with doing is helping you best understand what customers want these days when it comes to content marketing and customer experience overall. Companies must evolve and adapt from the past few years of lobbing content into various channels and hoping to reach prospective customers. Instead, they have to develop material and touchpoints that show the customer that you’re ready to serve a customer at their point of need.
Part of this involves changing how you build out content marketing.
I’m not sure you’ve noticed, but the rules about subject lines on blog posts have changed. You now have approximately the subject line plus the first two lines of your post to earn someone’s full attention. If that’s true, now what?
Subject Lines as Drivers of Eyeballs
It’s not that the subject line has to do ALL of the work, but at this point, the subject line is where someone decides whether or not to click and drill down into your article. The subject line has to give enough information for someone to actually choose to read further.