I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been thinking about “communication products” lately. This is mainly because I’ve noticed a hyperbole of activity in marketplaces around the world: activity centered around “innovation” and activity directed towards making things. Many of these things are tech-based products like mobile apps, and new digital platforms of myriad sorts.
And then I’ve noticed a second hyperbole of activity, around promoting these new products, promoting them for the purposes of securing funding to develop them, then promoting them once in beta mode to garner early iteration and promoting them once live for revenue.
So it seems that we have a proliferation of innovative things being made, and a consequent proliferation of promotion surrounding these things. And this is all contributing to the already unprecedentedly (new invented word) difficult current environment in which to stand out.
So we have “products”: made-things like an app, a digital e-commerce platform, a film, an album, being made… “things” that might well be of value to someone, be fun and compelling, be revenue generating positive contributions to the market system and the makers. But the airwaves are overwhelmed with promotional pathways. Overwhelming on Twitter, Facebook, in radio spots and TV spots, in events, cross-promotions, and so on and so on.
And hence that thinking about I’ve been doing a lot of lately. What if we built more “communication products”?
So, what is this “communication product”?
It’s an ingoing intention, by-design, whereby the communication of a product is completely and proactively, upfront, integrated into the development of said product.
So where now we build and then we promote, with a “communication product”, these two activities come together, whereby the communication of the product is an essential part of the product itself: the “story” of the product is a fundamental component of the product itself.
A “communication product” would, by-design, in development, bridge a connection between the made-thing and its potential audience, creatively, meaningfully, in a compelling way.
How to get there? How to introduce this possibility into the development of made-things?
- First answer what you make? Take a game; it may be a game, but is it a way to pass time? Is it a way to build cognitive skill? Is it a way to bond parents and kids? Is it a journey into the imagination? Is it a means for competition?
- Second answer who you make it for? Is it for older women who might be lonely? Is it for intellectuals? Is it for dads and their daughters? Is it for creativity fanatics? Is it for competitive extremists?
- Then think about the communication bridge? How can you integrate a communication bridge that conveys a story about passing time to older women who are lonely? How can you integrate a communication bridge that conveys a story about building cognitive skill to intellectuals? How can you integrate a communication bridge that conveys a story about parent-child bonding to dads and their daughters? How can you integrate a communication bridge that conveys a story about the imagination to creativity fanatics? How can you integrate a communication bridge that conveys a story about competition to competitive extremists?
And the key thing? Think about this in development, by-design, not after the fact. Make it an essential component of the building of the made-thing.
In the possibility proposed, the made-thing takes on a broader meaning right from inception. The story is an essential part of the development. So there’s no need for the build-then-promote strategy because the made-thing already has the pieces built into it for cultural salience; it already has the components that will stimulate story-telling. And the made-thing comes along as the principal rider. That’s how a made-thing becomes a “communication product”.
Is it feasible? Would it work? What do you think?