Free documentaries

Oh You Pretty Things is a web shop run by a collective of filmmakers and visual artists based in Brooklyn NY. They make films, art, books, posters, photographs, clothing, and other fine stuff. 

Filmmaker Gary Hustwit is streaming his documentaries free worldwide during the global COVID-19 crisis. Each Tuesday he is posting another film here.

This week’s turn is a documentary about the industrial designer Dieter Rams.

What does weird mean?

I’ve participated in a few Akimbo workshops. There exists an online Akimbo community where people interact with each other. Seth Godin is creating weekly prompts that invites us to share our thoughts.

This week’s prompt particularly intrigued me, probably because I am curious about language: the way we make sense of this world, via using symbols such as words to create meaning.

Here are the two questions Seth asked:
1. Who do you think of as being weird – in your personal life or the bigger world?
2. What does it even mean for someone to be weird?

Here is my answer:

For me the word “weird” means different than the norm, norm being what I primarily perceive around me: people, objects, landscape, patterns of behavior, values…

I believe what most people, including myself, consider to be weird about themselves, when one is taking a closer look, is actually not all too weird, it’s just their perception of themselves. There are a ton of people who act, look, perceive, believe the way they do, it just so happens that they are not close by, therefore a person can seem kind of weird. What comes to my mind is a classmate in secondary school who used to dress so much differently than all my other classmates. Back then I believed he was kind of weird. Now I believe he must have thought the same about us.

I sometimes think of myself to be weird because I e.g. like boardgames a lot. But when I pay a bit more attention to this thought, particularly nowadays when I can, via the internet, easily find the other boardgame “weirdos”, I realise it’s not true. I am actually not that weird at all, it is quite normal. I am me and so are all the others.

The prompt reminded me of the following article by an organisation named The School of Life. You might like their two videos there, too.

Avoid the “monologue”

Inspired by recent experiences at an international trade fair, I’d like to talk about the “monologue”. It’s so easy to fall into this trap and I admit I’ve done it, too. You and your team have put so much effort into preparing a beautiful stand design, sourcing the furniture, aligning with the trade fair organiser regarding logistical details, inviting people to visit you….and now you’re excited to get started, to talk to potential clients. 

A person approaches your stand, you welcome the person and start talking about your company: how you do it, what it is you exactly do, you maybe even say why you do it. You list clients you work with, highlight your marvellous colleagues from the design, product development, engineering team who can’t wait to serve this person, just send us enquiries and we will help you out.

What is missing, though, is asking questions. These should come first. You need to find out who you are talking to. What is it that this person really cares about, given the type of business he or she is in. And don’t just ask questions, leave space to the person to ask you questions. It’s so hard to do but essential in order to adapt your story, to make it relevant to the person you’ve welcomed at your stand. 

Good luck with your next trade fair!

The role of tension

The two most important currencies in today’s marketing world are attention and trust. People trust you with their time, with their recommendation and maybe, just maybe, with their money. 

If you want a chance to have the kind of impact you seek to make, you need to build some tension, the kind of tension that compels people to take action, e.g. subscribing to your newsletter or buying your product. 

There are two main ways to create it: either framing your message around what is to be avoided (fear) or around what is to be achieved (desire or aspiration). Look at ads and analyse what its main focus is about, you’ll start noticing its everywhere. 

Look at the group

Once you’ve defined your audience, who the person you seek to impact via your brand story, your product and/or service, is, it helps to pay attention to the group the individual is part of. After all, we humans are social animals. 

How does the group influence the buying decision behavior of the individual? 
What are the accepted norms within the group? 
What is “proper” behavior which others within the group reward in what kind of way? 
What is the meaning that individuals find within the group? 
What gives them a sense of connection? 

Analyse the terrain, the habitat of the individual, when it comes to being part of a group. It might give you insights into important dynamics when it comes to choosing or not choosing your brand. 

Why don’t they?

If you choose to lean further into the empathy aspect of marketing, the following question deserves your attention: Why don’t they choose us? They being the audience you’ve defined you seek to serve, and us being you, your product/service. 

You wish they did but for some reason, maybe even multiple ones, at least for now, they don’t. What could these be? Are you able to come up with five convincing ones, apart from “the price is too high?” 

Buyer persona

People can be grouped by many things: age, nationality, gender, which party gets their vote….

What interests us as marketers is the worldview of the people we seek to serve, the audience we made our product/service for.

What do they fear?
What do they believe in?
What is their perception like?
What do they hope for?
What are their go to brands for different needs?
What is it they aspire to be/become?
What kind of decisions do they tend to make?
What are the internal narratives they keep telling themselves?

When doing marketing, it helps to first imagine the worldview of your audience, the lense they see the world through. Once you have that, you can frame your brand story in such a way to create hooks. These serve as signals to your audience who, when you’re just starting out, will mistrust and judge you.