Receiving random gifts in the mail does not suck. Last week, I was the recipient of a six pack of gourmet root beer. Who knew there was such a thing? It was from a company called SharpSpring. They were trying to get my attention to demo their marketing automation software on behalf of Elasticity.
The little story they told and the gimmicks included in the package were entertaining and fun. I totally went for it, read all the material and even emailed the more appropriate person at Elasticity to say, “We should check these guys out.” My little advice piece based on the experience is over on the Elasticity blog, if you’re interested.
The more I thought about the effort, the more I think it aligns with my notion that we’re all in the business of creating a better train wreck. Mind you, the analogy isn’t perfect. Getting free root beer isn’t bad, much less a train wreck. But it is more than any of SharpSpring’s competitors have done to get my attention. They effectively one-upped everyone else.
Like Buzzfeed’s headlines and Funny Or Die’s videos, companies are realizing what gets our attention today will fall flat tomorrow. To stand out from the crowd, we have to effectively one-up everyone else’s efforts.
This is both good and bad. It’s good because it holds us to higher standards, makes us think harder and improves our output. It’s bad because today’s impressive will become the mundane. We’re creating a world where only the most sensational will work. And when everyone becomes sensational, then the sensational becomes mundane.
In order to get more people to sign up for a marketing automation demo, the next company is going to have to spend more money than it costs to ship a six pack of root beer with some clever collateral. Take that cycle through a few more times and the cost of acquisition outweighs the revenue.
My mind has been focused on this phenomenon for a bit now. I hope to coalesce the thinking in my New Media Expo talk next month called, “What Hath Social Media Wrought,” which is inspired by a previous post on the topic.
We are now in a sea of noise with very little signal. The ones that shine through are the most sensational. They can be good and bad. But they can also appeal to the least common denominator. And that worries me.
Could it be that the greatest prophet of the 21st century is, in fact, Mike Judge? Is the Idiocracy upon us? Could be.
Food for thought.