Technology Is A Canvas, Not A Platform

by · May 1, 20132 comments

This statement, spoken by David Droga, founder of the creative agency Droga5 at the Innovation Uncensored Conference,  best captured the truth about digital marketing today.  It points to the shift in marketing that’s occurred since the advent of social media and explains the surge in popularity of conferences and books about creativity and innovation.

The social platforms where we work and play–Tumblr, Vine, Pinterest, blogs, Flipboard and of course, Twitter and Facebook–are perfect examples of  the canvases we are offered for our work.  Digital canvases, like any two dimensional canvas, have constraints, which could be  time, size, or number of characters, but by their nature, they offer open space with infinite possibilities for delivering and consuming content.  I also heard about SoundCloud at the conference for the first time, a platform that focuses on sharing audio content. It’s become an embarrassment of riches.  The challenge becomes trying to figure out what’s right for your product or service and what will resonate best with your potential audience.

Why Creative Content Sells

It’s not surprising that musicians and movie studios have taken advantage of these platforms to share creative output, but there’s no reason why brands can’t rise to the occasion as well. In fact, because of all the noise online, no one is going to pay attention to mundane communication. Brands and marketers specifically, must raise the bar on content and start thinking of themselves as creators.

Creative content not only stands out, but it has the power to impact people emotionally.  Since people make decisions based on emotions, it’s the only effective way to market.  As Diane von Furstenberg said on her panel at the conference, “people share emotional content often and content about your products almost never.”

What This Means For Marketers

Marketing in the traditional sense is longer a discipline about offers and campaigns, calendars and coupons. It’s about spontaneity and creativity. Knowing how to set up a social media account, create and follow a schedule, or adhere to a company’s social media policy, is barely table stakes in the world of marketing.

It’s both thrilling and daunting to realize that as marketers, the only way we can make a difference is as creators.  This includes writing, especially humor and storytelling; photography and photo editing, illustration, including comics and infographics; music; editing of words, sound, images and videos; fashion sense, film-making, storyboarding; and curating.  As the head of a marketing department you must be a good curator, talent scout, critic and creator in your own right.

And as if all of these creative disciplines were not enough, the technology requires us to improvise and be in the moment.   For marketers, using technology as a canvas means our challenge is to produce original, attention-grabbing content while understanding how best to use each of the media available to us to its best advantage.  And we need to do all of this while understanding that it must resonate with the community we want to reach.

It’s a challenge that is shaking up the world of marketing, changing who gets hired and who enters the field and makes it a far more rewarding discipline than it ever was.

 

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About Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz

Ilana Rabinowitz is the vice-president for marketing for Lion Brand Yarn and blogs about social media at Marketing Without A Net. Rabinowitz approaches marketing with an uncompromising focus on the customer and a grounding in psychology and neuroscience to understand what motivates people to make buying decisions.  She believes that businesses need to develop their own media as a means of creating a branded experience for customers.  She has spoken at digital marketing conferences including Web 2.0, Blogher Business and Internet Retailer. She is the author of a book about psychology, a book about mindfulness and co-author of a book about the culture of knitting. Follow her on Twitter at @ilana221.

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