Technology and Inspiration in New York

Discussion
Nov 10, 2011
George Anderson

One of the more famous quotes attributed to Steve Jobs involved his pitch to John Sculley to join Apple as the company’s CEO. "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"

One of Mr. Job’s gifts, his biographer Walter Isaacson told an audience at ad:tech in New York yesterday, was his ability at "connecting emotion to technology."

It seems the desire to raise technology beyond, well, technology, has become inherent in the space. Speaking to executives at the conference yesterday, we learned of several technological applications that were "game changers." Others were going to "remake the space" and numerous people said, "Nobody else is doing this." It should be noted that claims were in several cases made by companies that offered, at least to a technology civilian, very similar solutions.

In sales terms, having heard the pitches, we couldn’t help at the end of the day but wonder who was over-promising and, therefore, likely to under deliver.

We found we had a similar issue with a presentation made at the show by David Fischer, vice president of advertising and global operations at Facebook.

Mr. Fischer offered a speech, it seemed here, to elevate the audience. Based on the buzz afterwards, he succeeded.

Facebook, Mr.Fischer said, is about personal connections and, for brands to have success, they need to to do the same. But connecting is just the first step.

The second step involves engaging consumers. Brafton quoted Mr. Fischer as saying, "With Facebook, people can feel like they’re part of your brand."

The final step involves "inspiring" consumers by offering the type of experience that heightens their emotional connection with a brand or business. That’s where we ran into the whole hyperbole thing again.

Sure, there are brands that inspire consumers to the point of becoming rabid fans (Mr. Jobs created a few of those), but many others become popular simply because they work and are consistently reliable. Mr. Fischer, in fact, made essentially the same point, identifying consistency and relevancy of offers as keys to creating inspired consumers. So, why not add "repeating," as in keep doing steps one and two over and over again?

Of course, we’d also add a fourth step: "measuring." But that is for another discussion.

Discussion Questions: Is the principle of “connecting emotion to technology” applicable to all technology? And is an “emotional connection” relevant to all successful consumer products and services?

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8 Comments on "Technology and Inspiration in New York"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m not sure whether every consumer product needs to have an emotional connection to its user, but even the most utilitarian products can benefit from the thought process that Steve Jobs brought to Apple. So much of the design focus of Apple is meant to draw the user closer to the product. “Graphical interface” was the first breakthrough, and touch screens were an even more powerful development. It’s something that every designer of consumer products can learn from.

Ronnie Perchik
Guest
Ronnie Perchik
9 years 5 months ago

A marketer’s objective is not just to sell a product or service, but inspire devotion to the brand, and generate brand equity. Social Media does just this. Through a 2-way, direct line of communication with consumers, brands can extend their ears and listen up to consumer expectations, and ideally, adjust the product/service/brand, accordingly.

But implementation is key. And this goes for any new technology or nontraditional marketing application: if you don’t hold adding value to the consumer experience first before anything else, listen, and respond accordingly, you’ll fail. This is why bringing in a partner agency that specializes in these niche areas is crucial in making sure it’s all done right.

Marge Laney
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

There’s a really old expression: Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Technology should be created and sold for what it does for the user, not for the technology itself. Successful technology answers ‘yes’ to the question: Does it make my life easier, faster, and more connected to my business and family?

Jobs was a genius at creating technology that does all of those things and his ability to wrap it in a cool package made him the master of his universe.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Forging a positive emotional connection is the key to building loyalty, whether the brand is in technology or food, hard goods or service. By consistently delivering on the brand promise brands build loyalty, and loyalty inspires positive word of mouth and repeat business.

Rick Moss
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Walter Isaacson, in his excellent keynote yesterday, described how Jobs would often tear up during their many interview sessions when talking about his wife, a Bob Dylan song, the moment they came up with the “Think Different” slogan…

Tech leaders like Jobs don’t grow on trees. As inspiring as the guy was/is, I believe there are many things that can simply not be emulated about the way he worked — and many others that shouldn’t be attempted.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 5 months ago

The first technology was aimed at increasing productivity. It was designed by engineers for engineers. Steve Jobs brilliance is that he not only made technology accessible to non-engineer humans, he made it relevant to their life and brought the non-engineering concept of “fun” into the equation. There are still applications, like industrial robotics, that are all about productivity. Not much “fun” in that space. In personal computing, however, relevance and fun are essential ingredients for success.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Technology has always made me extremely emotional, like nothing else I know, pretty much since the computer was invented. Sometimes the rage and anxiety are so bad, I need a triple shot of Glenfiddich, or a little yellow pill. But this might just be a generational thing.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Humans are not rational. Never have been and never will be.

To paraphrase Mr. Jobs “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling commodities based on price or do you want a chance to touch your customer’s heart?”

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