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09/08/2008 KAOS vs. Control

Confession #1: The Get Smart TV show is one of my all-time favorites.
Confession #2: I haven’t seen the movie.

That classic TV show has nothing to do with Digital Marketing. But the spoof on the spy agencies, KAOS vs. Control, has everything to do with the digital and online space. Except now the rolls are reversed. Because, for once, the market forces and interactive folks are rooting for KAOS while the status quo folks are fighting vainly to keep in Control.

Alan Wolk had an interesting take on this in an Adweek article about “The Real Digital Revolution.”

The reason the digital space is so exciting to us is the opportunity and challenge to give up the control and power in communications while still being effective. We’re giving this up to real people: customers, prospects, and naysayers. What we see happening is probably the best thing ever for consumers: Real life experience from people using the products and services we’re shopping for.

I haven’t bought one piece of consumer electronics, TV, camera, camcorder, refrigerator; you name it, without going online first to check out reviews. Even marketing directors still funneling money into traditional media find their own personal behaviors have changed drastically.

The problem for companies and traditional agencies is that they HATE giving up control. It’s scary and threatening for them, to a degree that would surprise us. Yet some companies get it and flourish. Look at what Apple and Dell have done to their support sections online. They’ve let the customers take control AND they’re involved in the conversation as well.

Here’s the challenge over the next few years as digital media and delivery takes over the traditional space: As a brand, company or agency, are you brave enough to relinquish control?

I have only one piece of advice to these groups: Get Smart.


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