Right now, as I look around my room, there are opened boxes all over my floor.
These are fun boxes though. Boxes with cutesy “1-2-3” instructions and cool trendy logos, prepaid return labels, and branded packing tape. The internet is to blame here, as usual. I have 7 boxes from LensRentals for an upcoming commercial shoot, a Menguin tuxedo rental for my little sister’s wedding (brb, tissues), and a box from Amazon Prime containing the newest prized possession in my freezer-less bachelor pad: a countertop ice maker. Every one of these boxes was generated at the end of a long chain of events that started with a mouse click, and soon, they’ll all be going back. Except for the ice maker.
No one is touching my ice maker.
Over the last several weeks, a small epiphany has been setting in. I’m not the first to realize this, but it’s a game-changer nonetheless: The most successful internet-based ventures are just a matter of connecting a supply to a demand, often times both preexisting ones. Party-goers to an Uber driver. Adventurous travelers to an Airbnb. High school friends on Facebook. Birchbox gives cosmetics to the masses a-la-carte, and Trunk Club makes us guys look like we understand basic color coordination.
The internet’s greatest asset is outside of itself: it’s people.
From social networking to fashion, its clear that the internet’s greatest asset is outside of itself: it’s people. Conceptually speaking, startups like Uber, Airbnb, and Menguin are why-didn’t-I-think-of-that simple; each just find a way to connect a “need” with a “have”. People have been renting out their spots to vacationers forever. Airbnb is now valued at $30 billion (yes, that’s a ‘b’ for billion) because they found a way to commoditize it at scale. Uber shook up the taxi industry by giving power to the people. Postmates ran with every stoner’s hypothetical of “wouldn’t it be great if (non-delivery establishment) delivered?” Demand, meet supply. The “Killer App” of the two-thousand-teens… is us. In the same way that call-in deejay request shows revolutionized radio and QVC made TV window shopping a thing, this generation of startups is tapping into the full potential of the internet. We’ve now grown used to having the internet, (just go one day and make a note of all the things you do that are possible because of the Web), and now we’ve moved on to making it work for us.
So how will this affect how we tell stories? The honest answer is that, for millions, it won’t. Statista.com suggests that in 2016, U.S. brands spend over $13 billion dollars…. In online banner ads alone. When’s the last time you clicked a banner ad? On purpose? Yeah, me either. As Gary Vaynerchuck often preaches, it’s about trading and pricing attention. Find where the attention is, and soak it. It doesn’t really matter where the proverbial puck is going, what matters is where it’s at now. Be there. Be that. Be what the people need, even if they don’t know they need you yet. Steve Jobs did that with a little thing called the iPad.
Web 2.0 made our buttons glossy, our jargon more... jargon-y, high-tech became sexy, and we became tired of stock footage of speeding lights and industrial buildings. However, The Social Web has grounded us back in the human element. We favor handwritten branding over techie Cyberdyne ripoffs. We use ridiculous terms like “handcrafted websites”. We want distressed wood, flannel, whiskey, messy buns, bushy beards, pick-and-choose ordering, DIY makeup tutorials, friendly website copy language, and new brands are made and broken on their customer service alone. Give us organic. Give us real, meet our needs, and do it because you love doing it, not because your script says to. In the age of The Social Web, authenticity is the new black. In the end, the internet’s greatest gift is what it started as all along, once we allowed it to be just that: a means of connecting dots. Those dots - really - are just periods, ending sentences and allowing new ones, which in turn shapes a larger story.
What is your story? It’s never been more important for your creative to be at the top of it’s class. In the age where everyone has a voice thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, your creative is the one variable (Gary Vee, again). Maybe your brand hasn’t found it's story yet, or you have and you just don’t know how to express it. That’s ok though, because people like me and those I work with can help you tell your story.
Oh, and lucky you, this website has a contact form.