08 Dec 2016

Some Things Change, Some Don’t

by Paul Adams

I’ve been involved in the direct selling channel for nearly 30 years.

A lot has changed over that time.

In the early days, we were pushing the envelope of “high tech” by supplying VHS tapes and audio cassettes as a way to share product and opportunity messages. OK, honestly, we were sharing recruiting messages with a bit of product mixed in. That was the trend then.

Things change.

The running time for a typical video in those days was about 21-25 minutes.

Can you imagine?

And we had good reasons why. We could explain the science behind the length of the messaging.

Over time, videos got shorter. We originally decreased the run times to 7 minutes because that was the length of time between commercials when watching a typical TV show. In other words, TV determined someone’s attention span. Although that is still somewhat formulaic for TV programming, the clear determining factor for the length of a video now is based on how long someone will watch a video on their phone. And that is MUCH shorter than 7 minutes. Probably between 1½ and 5 minutes TOPS! But, as a marketer, you still have to get the message delivered effectively. Although shorter, it still has to be complete and compelling.

And the technologies changed.

In 1999, we created our very first DVD ever. That was only 17 years ago, and although we still replicate and provide quite a large volume of CDs and DVDs, the demand is much lower. A LOT lower. As long as cars on the road have CD players in them, and homes (and older PCs) still have DVD players, people will still want them. By “older” I am probably talking about just a few years. Not decades.

Digital delivery has clearly taken over the way we consume information.

Yet companies are still trying to figure out how to deliver certain types of content. And the technology folks are all telling you they have THE answer.

Some things don’t change.

I feel like most companies are looking for the solution to bank on for the foreseeable future.

What does “foreseeable” mean anyway? One year? Two? Five?

Remember, in just 17 years, we’ve gone from VHS / audio cassettes to DVD / CD and now to digital in all its varieties. We skipped right over Blu-ray. We dabbled in CD-ROM. Some people tried the cute little “sexy” mini or shaped CDs, although nobody did it for long because they just didn’t hold much content and they didn’t work in all the players.

Clearly, companies still need starter kits. But even kits have changed. Smaller. More focused. More precise in terms of the messaging. We have seen some clients jump into and quickly get out of the kit boxes that have a built-in video player or “video card.” Technology is tempting.

Every step along the way and every new technology that was tried was someone’s attempt to stand out in the crowd. To look better and faster. To be more relevant or “ahead of the curve.” To matter.

And… the search continues.

When you look around, the companies that continue to drive sales on a nice steady path are looking at all the technologies as well.

And using some.

Mostly, they are doing the right things right. They are focused on “mattering” to their distributors, customers and prospects.

They are focused on a message that resonates. A message that someone wants and cares about.

They are focused on solutions and products and potential that are meaningful and reachable.

Over time—actually, daily—technologies will change. The appeal of some “new” way to deliver a message will be apparent.

And, as quick as it appears, another “sexy” technology will replace it.

But, in the end, the message is what matters most.

As a company, if you are more focused on the technology than the message, you are chasing a fleeting object. But if you are focused on your message and can adapt it to whatever the “technology du jour” is, you have a chance to truly matter.

If I were a betting man, I would take the company that knows who they are, how they make a difference and why it matters over the one that “all of a sudden” looks sexy because of some delivery mechanism.

We always encourage our clients to get their message right FIRST. Period!

Then, choose the systems and tools to deliver it.

If you don’t, all you are doing is finding a way to deliver a bad or ineffective message faster to more people.