Last week I signed up to talk about my career at my kid’s elementary school. I knew right away I was in trouble when I saw the red fire truck in the parking lot with children gathered around it. Luckily, I had put a new touch phone in my pocket before I left the office so at least I would have something to draw interest.
I lit in to my spiel about how the world cannot go round without sales people and the many talents needed to be an effective salesperson. I emphasized math and correct spelling while visions of some of the best sales people I have ever known, who are hopeless at both, danced in my head.
Maybe it was the shiny black device, but hands went up almost immediately. “Is this a 4G?”, “Is this device LTE compatible?”, and then, “Does your company really have the fastest 4G LTE?” I was stunned. I field these kinds of questions all the time during business hours, but answering 8 year olds demanded a little additional consideration, and, frankly, I was a little off kilter. How did these kids know so much about digital mobile signaling?
It had to be the advertising.
Rewind to a conversation with one of our corporate advertisers a week before. He was scolding me for using acronyms when I spoke to him and asked me to just lay out my ideas for him in simple English. He continued by saying that our industry relies too heavily in highly technical acronyms and that we should all start to do our part to simplify the messages. His wanted to do that in our advertising.
But, I am not sure if we will be able to put Pandora back inthe box.
When third graders are peppering you with questions about LTE, there are no simple answers and an artistic campaign like the ’painted hands’ that AT&T used a few years back may be a wide stretch for these kids whose diet has been a steady ingestion of technical specifications. Nevertheless, for those familiar with the Pandora story, thankfully ‘despair’ never got out of the box. We were left with ’hope’ despite all the swirling acronyms and reiterated technical claims about network speeds and coverage.
Sure it is important for consumers to know what technology they are buying, but consumers need to also consider other factors For example, customer satisfaction measured by old-fashioned service. Or the innovation a company is bringing to the marketplace, measured by new devices with interesting new features The public usually gives a lot of breathing room to companies who are innovating or providing an extra layer of service even if they do not get it perfect the first time around. Just ask Apple.
I hope you can relate. With a classroom full of kids all up to speed on the virtues of things like ’4G’ and ‘LTE’ the very creative fiber of our country is at stake. I wonder how the conversation would have been different if the advertising messages were different. What kind of wonderful and creative new technologies could these kids be dreaming about and carrying in their heads as they grow up to be the next lab technician, salesman, or…fireman?