We all believe that one thing causes another.
- Newton’s third law of motion states: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
- The Byrds sang Pete Seeger’s interpretation of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes: “For every thing, (turn turn turn) there is a season.”
- One of the hottest new iPhone app’s name — IFTTT — stands for “If This Then That.”
It’s only natural to believe that the things we do cause other things to happen. Taken to a fare-thee-well we wind up with chaos theory. Commonly called the butterfly effect, it’s the belief that a small change at one place can cause large differences somewhere else. And so the apocryphal butterfly flaps its wings in Madagascar and ultimately causes an ice storm in Minnesota.
So why is it that even though we accept and believe that one thing leads to another in most situations, we don’t apply that standard to many of the things we do ourselves?
- We know that drinking and driving leads to tragedy yet some of us still pour the disastrous “one for the road.”
- We know that eating fatty foods is as bad for your health as not exercising and yet many of us regularly enjoy the former and eschew the latter.
Another place where we don’t practice what we preach is when we’re in the audience and witnessing a great live performance. What we believe is that what’s happening on the stage is completely dependent on the quality of the material as interpreted by the skill, preparation, and presentation of the artist. But in truth the performance — be it theater, dance, a keynote presentation, a sermon or a concert — is a conversation between the artist and the audience.
Whether it’s music or speaking, the person on stage NEVER does it alone. What the performer accomplishes is in part a reflection of what the audience encourages to happen.
It’s the same in marketing, branding, and advertising (you just knew I’d get there sooner or later, didn’t you?). Although it’s the client who provides the inspiration and pays the bills, and it’s the advertising agency that creates and implements the messaging, it is the audience that interacts and ultimately makes the campaign successful.
Twentieth-century advertising – Interruption Marketing – used to get in your way and get you to pay attention. Commercials would interrupt your TV show. Print ads and inserts would interrupt your magazine and billboards would interrupt your view. But unfortunately for marketers, remote controls, TIVO, satellite radio, and other digital technologies have made it too easy for consumers to simply step over the marketing roadblocks placed in their way.
And so today’s savvy marketers shoot for engagement, where they try to facilitate a conversation between clients and consumers. And the best of them understand that just like Newton’s third law, they can only create an action if they also allow for the reaction. Which – thanks to the low cost of entry and ubiquitesness of digital media – you can do too.
Social media sites are perfect examples of how you can build an engaging dialogue with your customers. Blogs — such as this one — are another way to build a productive relationship with your various audiences, much like we’ve done together here.
So when you watch a performance you appreciate — or see an ad you love — or read a blog post you enjoy – take some credit that you helped to facilitate it.
After all, as those great philosophers Lennon and McCartney wrote: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”