Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lego platforms for your corporate communications

Hey, what kid didn't play with Lego blocks? Lego made anything possible - at least it does these days. I remember getting a Lego set that included a set of wheels and I thought it was fantastic. Now, there are all kinds of bits - people, animals, bendy bits and so on that make even more possible. I'm so jealous I want to talk to a rebirthing consultant (remember that crazy '80s fad?), so that I can start with Lego all over again.

Communications platforms are like Lego these days. They're so bloody good that you can mix and match print, audiovisual, interactive and a host of other channels at minimal cost. Okay, I can hear you saying: "That's typical of the boomer generation - anything below a millions bucks is 'minimal cost'".

Well, surprise, surprise! You're absolutely wrong. As the former owner of a small business, there'd be no marketing communications bloke more conscious of making a dollar stretch to deliver the best possible outcomes. When I say minimal cost, I'm down in the tens of thousands for content-rich, single-touch editing platforms that ensure technology-enabled brand consistency, compliance and reduced cost.

In the financial services sphere, communications platforms are not optional. They're mandatory. In a regulated environment, there is a substantial chunk of communications activity that is compliance and process driven. There's nothing fancy about it. Even within more creative campaigns, there is a hard core of disclaimers and other information that is non-negotiable. My point is: Who wants to spend time and money on process, when a sound technology platform can empower you to allocate your 'life-support' level budget to the real tasks of building customer relationships and new business?

This was the point I made to my mate, Nige, who runs a boutique agency called Coolwise Creative in Melbourne, as I convinced him over a series of very pleasant lunches to invest over 100 big ones on building a platform that, at face value, would reduce his billings to me.

The point I made was that building this platform would not reduce my spend, but improve my spend. And over the past three years, that's proved to be the point. Less spend on process and more on creative.

Most recently though, I have been evaluating delivery platforms to enable an ever-growing emphasis on audiovisual, interactive communications and, to my pleasant surprise, I've found quite a few on offer. Even big international operations like Thomson Reuters offer solutions at price points within reach of moderately sized enterprises. I can deliver a series of engaging communications online that cost less than producing and distributing a single newsletter to customers.

I remember getting quoted quarter of a million dollars for production of a corporate video in the '80s(ROFL!). For that, I can now deliver something like 25 webcasts, or 40 online TV interviews, or a plethora of targeted email communications. Okay, the '80s quote was over the top (I've never forgotten it), but drop the quote by 75% and the equation's still pretty attractive.

What's more, I can track the success of each communication. Total accountability. What Board, CEO or CFO would not love it? Of course, I know from my own research, that there's a significant proportion of people who prefer traditional snail mail communications. But there are new generations of consumers who probably don't even open their mail. These are the consumers of the future.

New platforms for digital production and delivery put smart communications strategies within easy reach. If you're not reaching out and grabbing them, you're just not in the game. So ignore the luddites that surround you and make your move. This space is the future, just make sure you evaluate and invest in a great launching pad before you build the spaceship.

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