hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

September 30, 2005

Malleable media a must for marketers

Back in the day, didn't have a care in the world. "I'm going to print this book," I can imagine him saying, "And everyone--everyone who is literate that is--is going to read it exactly the way I print it."

No one was changing things. Remixing them. Figuring out new ways to put them together. Okay, maybe ransom notes were the first foray into this, but I'm trying to remain positive.

Today, everything is in flux.


  • Print? How's it work on the Web?

  • Web? Can the user tweak the interface?

  • Software? What add-ins and tweaks are available?

  • Song? With which songs would it mash-up well?

  • Movie trailer? How are they going to remix it?

  • Game? How are they going to change the controller settings?

  • RSS? Who's going to be syndicating it?

  • Photo? Who's going to (with apologies to for continuing to turn their product name into a verb) Photoshop it?



I mean, this stuff didn't happen to , and it still doesn't happen with toasters, but practically everything else with which we interact, today, is destined to be remixed.

And we, as marketers, must operate with that kind of thinking in mind. It's no longer "how did we intend for this to be used?", it's "once this is released, how is it going to be used, reused, and tweaked?"

Friends, marketers, peers, are you listening? Take a deep breath, cross your fingers, make yourself comfortable. I have some bad news: We're not really in control. We never really were. Just as our brands have always been the results of the perception of the recipient, now, everything we do is changing in the hands of our market. And everything we release to the market is completely malleable. Every message, every tool, every thing.

Search engines tweak it. People tweak it. People borrow, reinvent, and regurgitate it. We have no control over that. And all the power, all the mystical production and creation that we once held, is now accessible to any user, any where, at any time.

Get used to it. Embrace it. Deliver things that are tweakable. Be that software interfaces, your Web site, or your company jingle. Give them the control that they want, because I can assure you, they're going to tweak it anyway.

And we stand something to learn from this fact. Where better to get real feedback on what people want and need from your company or any other company than to pay attention to how they tweak what you deliver? How they change it? How they make it better? Or how they make it more what they wanted in the first place?

What's more, you have to trust in the fact that your message or tool or toy or music is likely going to reach more people in the tweaked form than it ever did in its original form. How scary is that? Or how invigorating? How challenging? How can you create something that cannot only withstand the test of time, it can withstand the variety of hacks and manipulations that the market is going to throw at it? How can you create that thing that is still going to represent you or your company, regardless of the final form it takes?

Interactive media has quickly become malleable media. And we, as marketers, need to figure out how to work in this new arena. The old rules don't work. And trying to follow them could doom us to extinction.

What do you think? Is the mash-up, remix, reuse thing a fad, or our existence going forward? I'd love to hear what you think. Or feel free to syndicate this entry (or all of for that matter), edit, amalgamate, and make something better. Either way, I hope you return.

 



Malleable media a must for marketers
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