Our perspective at VantagePoint

Can marketers mix Instagram and Jane Austen?

I came across a short film today that chronicled the life of a teen entirely on his computer screen. The comments, as you might expect, included complaints about how appalling it was that this young man communicated almost exclusively by electronic means — video chat, Facebook chat, Facebook messages, Skype — and not face-to-face.

For some reason, I had a flashback to one of those movies my wife enjoys watching, usually an adaptation of some famous novel from the 19th century. In it, the protagonists are frequently writing long missives using flowery language, and then waiting days upon days for a response.

And it struck me. We don’t decry how Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy or any of Ms. Austen’s carefully crafted characters should have “put down their quills and have a face-to-face conversation for once!”

So why do we ridicule today’s young person (or middle age, or older, for that matter!) for taking advantage of the technology available to them? Text, Vine, YouTube and SnapChat away, I say. To do otherwise is to live with our heads in the sand. And in 50 years (or less) we’ll be thinking how quaint today’s means of communication were.

What does this have to do with B2B marketing, you ask? I fear we could be making the same kind of mistake by not embracing emerging forms of digital communication. Vine? Instagram? Let’s do it. See if they work. Maybe they won’t — but millions are using them with success, and we won’t know unless we try.

Tablet-friendly web design? Mobile-friendly email? Learn how. A substantial portion of your audiences open your emails, or visit your websites, on their mobile devices. Are you going to make them pinch and zoom, and try to hit tiny buttons?

Does a beautifully printed direct mail piece, or a website that looks magnificent on a 20-inch monitor, have its place? Of course it does. Just like a handwritten letter on cotton stationery, or a face-to-face conversation while walking through the English countryside. But don’t be left in the 19th century while your competitors fully embrace the second decade of the 21st.

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