When I was a kid I had pencils, chalk, crayons, and paper. I rode a big wheel there were two knobs on the TV, one for UHF and the other for VHF…or just the “top” and “bottom.”
I listened to music on vinyl records and cassette tapes.
Basically what I’m saying is that I’m old enough to remember a time before all of this…all of it.
I know, I’m dating myself but hang in there.
That said, I’m also young enough to have grown up as everything happened. I had Atari, then Nintendo, and now there’s an XBOX One in my living room…Cortana too but we aren’t on speaking terms. I get along much better with Alexa.
Though I fought it until the bitter end, I did give in and made room in my life for a CD player, then a portable one for the car that connected via an adapter inserted into the cassette deck.
Now…well I subscribe to Amazon Prime Music and Google Play.
My entire life has been lived with one foot in either world – the analog and the digital. I’ve never firmly committed to either, fighting the transition only to embrace it in the end.
Years ago, ever frustrated with the limitations, expense, and complications of analog recording in a home environment I broke down and invested in a digital recording system…something, like a CD player, I had sworn never to even consider.
So here I am…living in both worlds…enjoying and embracing all that the digital world bless me with but clinging to the analog spirit I grew up with.
The Beatles recorded on tape. Brian Wilson produced Pet Sounds on tape. George Orwell didn’t have Microsoft Word…he didn’t even have Word Perfect.
Yet…I have access to almost every song ever recorded simply by saying Alexa play… or OK Google!
There’s a lesson here though. There’s something important that I think should resonate with all of us…particularly those of us who work in communications.
It’s critical for us to engage our audiences using the most effective and modern channels. We must go where our audience is already waiting. If that means MySpace then MySpace. If they move to Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat, or wherever else…that’s where we go.
If it means using emojis or limiting our message to 140 characters, that’s what we have to do because part of being an effective communicator is delivering that message in a method that is well received and understood by the audience.
It doesn’t matter that you manufacture the best product, provide the best service, offer the best workplace. If you can’t get your message out in a way that is heard and appreciated, no one will know or care.
BUT….in our race to embrace the newest and fastest we must never lose sight of what connects us, what binds us…that analog soul.
We are analog beings living in a digital world.
The warmth, the grit, the rough-around-the-edges integrity that makes us each who we are should never be sacrificed at the alter of technology.
Rather, we should use technology to enhance and amplify our analog spirit.
We should let our analog souls and need for warm interaction determine how we utilize the tools that technology provides.
We’ve all seen the home buying shows…we’ve all been in restaurants with a “clean, modern feel.”
By and large, as a people, we leave those trends behind. Why? Because there’s a sterile, coldness to those sleek, gray, clean lines.
Only when that modern avocado and mahogany cabinet has been around the block does it become a cherished “mid-century modern” antique. Before it reached that ripe old age and revered title, well, it was just tacky.
The same is true with how we choose to communicate our messages.
Internally yes, sometimes an email blast is fine. Sometimes that’s all you need. Other times, maybe you should take the time to engage people one-on-one. Perhaps a printed letter in an envelope left at everyone’s desk is the right touch.
Externally, whether engaging prospective clients or a mass of would-be customers, think about what you want to say, how you want to say it, how you want it to be received, and then assess your strategy.
Maybe a mass email dump with addresses exported from Excel is just fine. Maybe though, maybe you should spend that extra time to look up the weather in each city of each client to whom you’re marketing your business. Maybe actually put pen to paper, maybe hand write the address on the envelope.
Almost all of us crave connection. Almost all of us notice when something is different.
When tailoring your message keep that in mind. Offer people more than a widget or a great deal. Offer them a connection.
Don’t reach out to them the same old way everyone else does.
Be analog in a digital world.
Be Well and Kind,