Thursday, December 10, 2009

Can I say trans-informational?

In the old marketing text book that I used to read at University there was a great section on informational advertising and transformational advertising and I really took those two theories to heart.

It was pretty simple really, informational advertising was used in important decision making processes. It was to remove fear like medicinal advertising or explain complex expensive products (you know those car comparison ads that list how many cup-holders a car has?). Then there was transformational advertising used either to gratify the ego with a minor purchase decision like how a can of coke will get me a whole lotta chicks in bikinis, or to satisfy the ego with large purchases like how when I bough my new Macbook I just knew that I would become hip.

But what I'm experiencing nowadays is that there is definitely a middle ground. And I think this middle ground is growing with the growth of online communities and networks.

Let me explain. Transformation feeds the ego and gratifies the individual while information gives the individual the required understanding of the needs required to go from being without satisfaction to having satisfaction. What better way of getting in the clique than by joining a community of experts and conversing and learning from the experts on how to transform yourself.

It is these online communities and networks that I believe fill the middle ground between information and transformation. This is the trans-informational advertising. Get this space right, create a space for the expression of emotion and transfer of knowledge, feed it with the occasional talking point of content and the community will can self-sustaining.

Example: The 2010 Ford Mustang
The new 2010 Ford Mustang is in anybody's book a pretty big purchase. To sell one of these babies you need to latch onto a heap of emotion, give lots of sexy information about the power of the beast, and of course have a space where fans and potential buyers can salivate together about this animal.

Let's start with tansformation. This is a beast of a car and has no practical use on the speed regulated roads whatsoever. But it is sexy, fast and down right red-blooded Amrerican muscle. Tell me this doesn't transform you:

Now information. You want specs? I'll give you specs. Take those details and shove 'em up your imported piece of plastic. As much as information is there to remove the fear of purchasing an inferior product it can also be used to reinforce your decision for buying an over-specced rocket on four wheels.

And the middle ground. I love these videos, I think this car is awesome, I want to salivate with someone over the fact that I could get the top of the range model for under $50k Australian!!! (if you didn't take into account import taxes, and every other obvious barrier under the sun to getting one in Australia).

Ford services this middle ground with a very healthy Facebook fan page with over 350k fans and a very nice assortment of photos, videos and applications to play with and discuss intimate stories about abnormal love affairs with inanimate objects. Facebook, as you can see from this example is the perfect platform for servicing this new and exponentially growing marketing ground.

The trans-informational middle ground is one of the most promising developments happening in marketing today. The opportunity to combine emotional transformational wants and rational informational needs in a living community of enthusiasts, executed thoughtfully and in the community's interest, can only strengthen a brand in the eyes of its core market.

*For more awesome mustang photos I recommend the Mustang fan page.

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