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

LED Light District

Seven weeks to Christmas and I’m in full “Christmas Lights” mode. The 2010 display will be the nation’s biggest and best home lighting extravaganza, but more on that in just a moment…

Last year generous visitors and Messages On Hold clients gave $27,000 to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. I’m hoping to raise $30,000 this year. That shouldn’t be too hard considering this year’s setup will showcase several never-before-seen attractions and 20% more cabling than 2009.

I can’t tell you all the exciting new things that will make this year’s lighting show a ripper because that would ruin the surprise, but I can give you a small taste of what to expect. Firstly, the music we’ll be using to sync the lights up is from The Groove Gallery – a license-free music company I launched back in September with Shane Warne. We’ve had 2 of our past videos booted off Youtube because we used commercial music so that won’t happen this year.

Starburst has agreed to supply thousands of their “in-demand” lollipops for us to give away. I’m super excited about my four green ‘VU Metres’ and magical ‘floating’ stars, all new for this year.

I’m also doing a short video diary/podcast each week taking viewers behind the scenes of what it takes to assemble a monumental project like this. I’ve already uploaded the first which you can watch on our Youtube Channel,Facebook Fan Page and very shortly – iTunes.

Please befriend Messages On Hold on Facebook, join The World’s Best Christmas Lights group or subscribe to our Youtube Channel. And remember to share it with your friends too! You can also view the video and forward it to your friends and family by visiting the homepage here!

Time Trials – Marketing Tribulations

Targa West is a three-and-a-half day tarmac rally around Perth. I entered my Mitsubishi Evo 9 in the event and was delighted to finish 21st out of 53 competitors. The reason I bring this up is because something marvellous happened as a result of me entering the rally.

You see, I installed 5 cameras in the car and recorded the 30 special stages. Each day my team would edit the vision and upload it to (check out all the videos here)

The marvellous bit? Well, along the top I ran a web address – a link to a viral video that explains Messages On Hold in a fun way. Within hours of posting the first video, I started to see motoring people going to the “donaldtrump” site after spotting the address on the racing video. It’s impossible not to see it. As a result, we saw increased web traffic and additional sales.

It would have been easier for me to just stick some logos on the car (which I had) and leave it at that. But by investing money and time in producing high-quality, multi-camera racing footage and getting it out to the masses quickly, I reaped a reward.

The quirky site name was a definite attention grabber. I know this because all weekend people involved in the rally would ask me what it’s all about and in marketing terms, you know you’re on a winner when people ask you to tell them about what you’re selling.