Alex and I came up with an idea for a talk at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo in NYC. Here’s our idea as we submitted it to them.
Drawing on our experience with some of the world’s biggest brands, we have a bold recommendation: strive for smaller things. The world’s going that way, in biology, culture, and politics. So why are marketers still chasing big impression numbers? Why are we obsessed with the idea of scale? Let’s make small, awesome things, rather than big, crappy ones.
Things want to be small.
Our talk provides a new perspective for the digital world that celebrates the self organization of people into groups that are smaller, harder to find, and harder to communicate with, but ultimately more valuable to marketers.
Our talk begins with our experience in helping some of the world’s biggest companies set their digital strategies, and builds on those insular learnings with those from other fields. We’ll examine lessons from biology, politics and popular culture to show that networks inexorably trend toward smaller and more specific iterations on the norm. For nations, it’s a yearning for autonomy; for field mice it’s an adjustment in width and length based on competition; for culture, it’s smaller, yet more complex ideas that create interest (see Steven Johnson).
We hope that learnings from other fields and the metaphor of “small” will help marketers in the digital age. Our mission is to break the advertising model where companies are more concerned with collecting impressions than making them.
Our three rallying cries:
Forget scale. It seems that everything is growing online except for trust in marketers. We’ve been obsessed with collecting more fans, gaining more views and bombarding more people. We want a new strategy for the next billion people to migrate online, one that is more about quality than quantity.
Design for one. Here, we challenge people to think about concept first and audience second. Also, to break away from the comfort of large caricatures of society like “millenials” and “baby-boomers.”
Segment for value. Using the Gini Coefficient (and the Lorenz Curve) we show how a small world view can help segmentation. To date, we’ve been unnecessarily inefficient with our messages by shouting them into a crowded room. Instead, we should speak softly to only those that matter.
With the internet as a catalyst, people are less and less willing to be forced into groups that don’t help them identify, belong and produce. We hope that people leave the talk with a new perspective on boundaries, measures of success and a new understanding of what’s to come for marketing.
What do you think? If they don’t pick us, we’ll do this talk somewhere else.