The New Literacy

Are you still relying on the written word to sell? Get with the times! The language of persuasion has evolved beyond the humble word, and if you aren’t keeping up, you’re falling behind.

Evolve or follow his lead

Evolve or follow his lead

Multimedia used to be magic. Once upon a time, Marketers could rely on a multimedia production to have a certain level of inherent seductiveness, simply by existing. An image in a shop front or the most humble television commercial would capture attention, simply because it was big and colourful. Today, anyone with a passing interest in photography and a few hundred dollars can print out their own life-size photo. As for video… 72 hours of (mostly amateur-made) video are uploaded to YouTube each minute. Multimedia is no longer the exception, it’s the rule.

But unlike the languages you may have been made to learn in primary school, being ‘literate’ in multimedia is much easier than you may think. In fact, we live in such a media-saturated world that you may just be surprised how fluent you are. Let’s look at some examples of companies utilizing this new language to great effect: is a popular online clothes retailer. Obviously, images of the item of clothing you’re about to purchase are a must, but they’ve gone one step further. Now you can watch a short 10 second video of the model striking a pose or strutting down a catwalk in your item of interest. ASOS have brought the customer closer to a ‘hands on’ experience in a way that few competing online clothing stores have. As a result, customers will be more confident in the product and more likely to make a purchase. Now consider going to a competitor’s website… these photos are nice, but I’m used to seeing videos of the clothes I’m going to buy.

One of our clients, eStore, is an Australian online electronics retailer. As well as selling familiar hardware and software, they also sell unique accessories like lens kits for your iPhone camera (view the video here) and portable business card scanner.  While these items might grab interest, a customer may be understandably hesitant given it’s an unfamiliar product. Fear not! Jump onto eStore’s YouTube channel and you’ll find handy product reviews, again giving as close to a ‘hands on’ experience as possible.

This engagement in multimedia isn’t just reserved for the online environment. Have you entered a surf shop, cosmetics/clothes department or cinema recently? Video is now being used to brand companies and communicate information where a static image would once try. You’re competing for your customers’ finite attention, and the bar for stimulation has just been lifted.

So how can you start talking the talk? You no longer need to get a professional production house to create multimedia, with a computer and a camera you’re more than halfway there. If it suits your brand, efficiently shot and edited videos (like eStore’s) are a great way to occupy a space your competitors may not have. Simple editing software often comes standard with most PCs and uploading video is child’s play (if you don’t know how, ask a child). If you’re brand is more premium, there’s an army of super-savvy multimedia graduates keen to whip up professional-looking multimedia for far-below industry rates. If you don’t know where to find such a graduate, email your nearest Uni or TAFE and get ready to sift through expressions of interest.

A smartphone and an internet connection is all you need!

A smartphone and an internet connection is all you need!

For the retail environment, invest in an L.C.D. screen and loop a multimedia production to spruce up your storefront. For audible branding – don’t pay for generic radio, pay for music that expresses your brand. With license free ambient tracks from The Groove Gallery, achieving this has never been lighter on the wallet.

Okay, but what can I say about my business? You’re primary goal is to be ‘heard’, so saying something is far better than nothing. Clothing store? Do a photo shoot with some local models and make an animated slideshow then post that to Facebook.  Deli? Get your most charismatic butcher to star in a YouTube video featuring a specific cut and a matching recipe. Accountant? Film ten one-minute ‘tax tips’ videos.

And we’re not at endgame yet. Many forward thinkers have stated that programming is the new literacy. In the future, deeper interaction will come from progressively more immersive media that will rely on user interaction with programs, and the standard multimedia of today will seem like the ‘For Sale’ signs of yesterday. But until then – lights, camera, action!

– Jakub