I’ve read this ‘marketing statement in a few places… the death one, I made up somewhat… and there is a lot of truth to both — including the wild salmon world.
At the beginning of this past week I sat through two days of presentations from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean on fisheries catch monitoring including: First Nation fisheries, commercial and recreational/sport. (One of my recommendations to presenters was to visit Garr Reynold’s blog Presentation Zen and some of the work of Nancy Duarte… I also recommend Edward Tufte’s work and books on how to present statistical and quantitative information)
Part of the reason for this is:
‘everything is marketing‘
‘marketing is everything‘
Seth Godin has a decent post on the issue from January this year:
Scott McCloud’s classic book on comics explains a lot more than comics.
A key part of his thesis is that comic books work because the action takes place between the frames. Our imagination fills in the gaps between what happened in that frame and this frame, which means that we’re as much involved as the illustrator and author are in telling the story.
Marketing, it turns out, works precisely the same way.
Marketing is what happens in between the overt acts of the marketer. Yes you made a package and yes you designed a uniform and yes you ran an ad… but the consumer’s take on what you did is driven by what happened out of the corner of her eye, in the dead spaces, in the moments when you let your guard down.
Marketing is what happens when you’re not trying, when you’re being transparent and when there’s no script in place.
It’s not marketing when everything goes right on the flight to Chicago. It’s marketing when your people don’t respond after losing the guitar that got checked.
It’s not marketing when I use your product as intended. It’s marketing when my friend and I are talking about how the thing we bought from you changed us.
It’s not marketing when the smiling waitress appears with the soup. It’s marketing when we hear two waiters muttering to each other behind the serving station.
Consumers are too smart for the frames. It’s the in-between frame stuff that matters. And yet marketers spend 103% of our time on the frames.
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See, it’s not just public service workers that succumb to the “death by PowerPoint” disease; I was audience to another dreadful PowerPoint presentation on Wens this past week following two days of fisheries meetings. This presentation was on literacy in Canada. The sad part is that some of the stats within the presentation were rather stunning — the presentation itself, however… was absolutely dreadful.
It was jammed full of graphs from Microsoft Excel (about as much creativity as a block of concrete) and slides so full of ‘bullets’ they looked like beer cans dead by a fence post at a rural redneck protest against Canada’s long gun registry.
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To give you an idea of some of the stunners… over 9 million Canadians have literacy levels of Level 1 and 2 — on a 5-Level scale. Level 3 is the level suggested to be the minimum to function effectively in today’s society — and about equivalent to a high school graduate.
One of the industries with the biggest gaps between what is required for literacy skills, and what is actually present in the workforce:
(now that’s a scary thought).
Worse yet… research suggests that 98% of nurses do not have the literacy skills required for their often highly technical jobs.
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Here’s the challenge: you can have some of the best, most alarming, most important, statistics and information ever… However, if you can not present them well (e.g. the “frames” as Godin calls them), or in a unique way that cuts through the buzz of today’s Information Age… you and your info will be lost in the noise of today’s society. You won’t even make it to the space in between the frames… other than folks suggesting “man… did you stay awake for that PowerPoint presentation…”
(And trust me, spending hours agonizing on the little bullet point animation tricks — e.g. “checkerboard from right”, “flash from left” and so on and so on — only make it worse.
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How does this fit in the salmon world?
Well… everyone is so busy trying to prove their own statistics (see post on salmon science and Ikea effect for dangers of this), or arguments, or “best practices”, or “strategic frameworks” or “statistical models” for saving salmon — and thus many seem to have forgotten the: “in-between frames stuff.”
An other big part of the “in-between stuff” (you know, it’s like how coffee breaks and lunch time are always the most productive components of workshops or conferences) is that the frames that corral the “in-between” should be seriously innovative, seriously different, and just plain… less serious.
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The combination of PowerPoint — or overhead slides in general — and a speaker to provide narrative, is an excellent tool; it’s an opportunity. However, like the great yin and yang, it’s also a frigging crutch.
Some PowerPoint presentations are so bad these days that i’d almost prefer if people put their entire presentation in tiny print and asked me to read it and ask questions when I was done.
Case in point from a keynote speaker, who is also a leading North American salmon scientist, at a conference this past March with delegates from all around the Pacific Rim.
Death by PowerPoint… double ‘p’ homicide…