They have a purpose beyond being the best things ever. If you are a strategist, planner or a person that just ponders then kids are brilliant tools for learning.
All planners know the best question ever is: why?
As Thomas Berger said:
"The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge"
But do we ask why enough? Are we relentless in its pursuit? Does 'why' get lost in the scrum of modern business?
My 3 year old daughter is The Queen of Why.
She resists all attempts to see the world at face value. No assumption is sacred. No truth given.
Her why loops are both profound and wearing. They force you to get to places you hadn't thought of before. Meandering from why do birds fly to the very meaning of life.
At times its like she has listened to Simon Sinek:
"People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it."
Her cycles of why are beautiful journeys to places she is happy to stop at and exclaim: oh, that, right. Gotchya dad, let's stick on this one.
The cycle of why makes you travel. It exposes you to possible destinations for stopping on the quest for knowledge. But never quite sure where the next why might take you.
You normally arrive at some kind of 'core truth'. A kernel of knowledge or insight where decisions or reflections can be made. Sometimes providing a glorious end or a dizzying cycle of infinity.
For many toddlers, the question why is directly connected to making a choice and/or making a human connection.
Asking the question is economical in its creative naiveté. It almost always guarantees some kind of adult response (we can't resist its simple seduction) and is geared to the pragmatism of wanting insight to make a decision.
It's a shortcut to listing and informing strategic options.
Choose option A or B. Pink ice cream or blue. Choose to jump or dance. Draw a mouse or a dragon. Advance or retreat. Smile or frown.
All are actions are triggered by a choice.
Which of course is the fundamental essence of strategy.
Let’s face it the best branded content looks and feels like culture.
It’s either film, journalism or 'cultural out put' of some kind. It is not advertising. At least in the way we used to understand it.
I believe we are witnessing a new phase in content led by a new breed content creators. From disruptive media brands, a new content creator class, innovative content marketing technology and progressive publisher brands.
I am calling this phase Next Generation Content. (I know classy huh…)
So WTF is Next Generation Content?
Next Generation Content is quite simply content that has learnt the skills and strategic agility of 21st century media craft.
Crafted content that does not betray its audience.
Content that doesn't cheat the consumer experience. That delivers something of value in the content experience. That rewards and delights the audience.
Next generation content is about forging value for a new consumer dynamic.
One based on shared interests, amidst a fierce competitive environment.
Next generation content has learnt the lessons of the content marketing and digital journalism goldrush.
This is the next phase of the journey for brands as content creators.
I wanted to collate some musings on how I see this playing out for brands.
How content marketing, brand building, media innovation and content technologies are all colliding to forge a form of 21st century marketing that is winning over the connected consumer.
Navigating a Next Generation Content landscape
The church and state of advertising and editorial has unbundled.
Here's something I wrote over 18 months ago when I was thinking about how content can help to power Participation Brands. How brands should tackle the shifting sands and fog of branded content and content marketing. It outlines a strategic approach and way in for brands.
One of the most over used, dangerous and misunderstood words in the communications business today.
A concept that has seduced and bludgeoned us with its elixir.
I believe participation has been infected by the hubris of social media. Its intoxication is sapping the positive power that participation can invoke.
The curious thing is the absence of participation in a lot of work we see in advertising and marketing. It is summoned as inspiration, but rarely seen in action proper.
Some are drunk on it and others are addicted to its superficiality. And most have stopped at the first base of participation and neglected to pursue anything else.
I believe participation, as an enabling concept for brands to connect with consumers, needs a reset.
It needs to purge itself of the impurities of misrepresentation, misuse and misalignment.
But, what is participation exactly?
In the world of advertising and marketing we have reduced the definition and invocation of participation to a small transactional part in a larger play.
But participation is actually a bigger concept covering everything from ownership, philosophy, decision-making and economics. It actually means:
The action of taking part in something
The state of being related to a larger whole
Taking part and being related to a larger whole has changed. It may sound the same, but feels markedly different.
The old models and old values of participation have shifted.
Participation is a source ingredient for what Harvard Business Review calls ‘New Power’:
New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.
They argue that participation is an active force that is shaping new kinds of consumption:
Social marketing as a discipline has lost its halo and is struggling to come to terms with itself in a post digital world.
Excuses have been given and countless studies have been published, but the nagging doubt of performance remains. Yes, of course ‘paid social’ works – it is a very effective and efficient buy. But social as a channel, as a thing, as an approach, as a marketing investment remains in doubt.
Last year we saw the notions of brand community, organic social and brand inspired amplification seriously challenged as credible strategies. Making impact even more elusive to come by.
But what is impact really? And can social deliver in a way that stands up?
According to IPSOS 80% of most marketers are still tied to soft metrics like engagement and according to Forbes only 15% cited they have been able to prove impact quantitatively with hard business metrics. Sound familiar?
Admittedly social gets a tough assessment in the funnel. It can and does act as a powerful ‘assist’ to lots of decision points in the buying journey, but is rarely afforded its fair share due to the way performance is attributed by most marketers.
Commentators are revelling in this post adolescent angst of social.