Monday, June 17, 2013

The thermostat and the frying pan

The thermostat and the frying pan:
If you want to cool your house to 68 degrees fahrenheit quickly, setting the thermostat to 62 degrees isn't going to get it temperate any faster than if you set it to 68. It blows full cold until it hits the number, then it stops. (For those down under where it is winter, the opposite is also true--extreme thermostat settings won't warm you up any faster).
Frying pans don't work that way. Turning the temperature on the burner all the way up will certainly heat up that pan faster.
Ah, an analogy!
There is significant pressure on marketers to get it done fast. And so the inclination to spend a lot, to race around, to turn the thermostat to its most extreme state. Yelling, basically.
But all the yelling doesn't build your brand faster. In fact, it might do quite the opposite. Trusted brands don't get there by spending their whole budget on one Super Bowl ad. Valuable marketing campaigns are the result of time and user experience, not media and more media. Tweeting more often doesn't make your tweets have more resonance.
On the other hand, product design and user interaction definitely benefit from the frying pan approach. Extraordinary products, remarkable stories, intense connection via user interaction--these things actually do scale quickly.
The movie business has seduced itself into believing that they can turn the thermostat to absolute zero and use a massive media push to make a moribund movie work. They can't. They'd be far better off putting the risk and the effort into making movies worth talking about instead.
Social media is a marathon, a gradual process in which you build a reputation. The best time to start was a while ago. The second best time to start is today. But turning it up to 11 isn't going to get you there faster.