Would you buy a used car from this guy?

In business, communication is everything. A good one can make a customer for life; a bad one can be a missed opportunity that may never come again. This is where we come in. Because everyone can create marketing communications, but not everyone is listening.

Marketing communications are a big investment, so consider this. There are over 130 trillion pages in Google’s index–and well over 1-billion websites growing daily. Add to these hundreds of millions of blogs, over 6.5 billion searches daily, more than 2 billion active Facebook pages and as of this writing around 500 million tweets a day—that’s over 6,000 per second! In addition, Nielsen data shows that consumers’ time with TV, internet and mobile video continues to increase. Everyone is trying to create a brand.

The average American adult is exposed to over 4000 messages in a day, yet the 5 percent of Americans with the highest income now account for 37% of all consumer purchases. The business-to-business market is even more targeted.

With all of these people are creating messages and optimizing all their web pages and content, just ask yourself how many thousands of websites can fit on Google’s first page? There’s a lot of spin in the digital ecosystem that can cost you money. So, how do you deliver the right message in that brief instant so your audience will respond?

Companies, agencies and the media are still scrambling to find relevancy and sense in the chaos of the digital ecosystem. Some approach it like Dell in the early days of social media who developed a 50-person team dedicated to social media in response to one lone blogger, (the infamous “Dell hell” blog about bad customer service.) Others desperately try every new venue helping Google to post record profits without a viable return on their investment. Missteps in the digital ecosystem can be very expensive. Clearly many of the old rules don’t apply in the evolving Web 4.x world with shifting reference points, or do they?

In this self-publishing era everyone is essentially a brand—so what distinguishes professional communicators from everyone else? Brands keep trying to join and be part of a conversation when they should be creating something unique that the conversation is about. Brands create the economy not the other way around. In the new world, an old rule still applies and is more vital than ever. You still have to stand out with a unique voice to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

Effective marketing communications forge customer relationships that continue long after the sale. These bonds are fortified by communicating a unified brand message that manifests itself in every consumer touch point.

For example, we’ve helped launch cars for Nissan, resorts for Westin Hotels and motorcycles for Suzuki. We have also developed marketing communication for financial products from Bank of America and SunAmerica and helped make Sunkist the biggest selling pistachio in America. These, along with the many, many smaller companies we have worked with, give us a deep understanding of what it takes to succeed. It takes expertise, experience and talent that not everybody has.

So the question isn’t so much how do you talk to the right people, it’s how can you do it effectively? Your customer is not just a target. They have individual needs and want particular things. They have families, get problems, go on vacation, have bosses and make mortgage payments. In short, they’re very much like you and I. How do you engage these people so that they will listen?

Within the barrage of multi-device communications each individual is subjected to daily, it only takes one isolated moment to create a customer for life.

Good communications are more important to success than ever before.

Art Basel Miami: the premiere beach party of the international art world.

267 galleries from 31 countries, along with 73,000 international visitors attended the 2014 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach. Since its debut in 1970, Art Basel has become the Modern and contemporary artworld’s premier platform for bringing together artists and their patrons in a way that is both engaging and personal.. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, films are displayed in the main exhibition hall, while ambitious artworks and performances become part of the landscape.

Modern and contemporary art of the highest quality, from classic forms to pieces by the most cutting edge experimentalists, are on display in a multi-sector format, making Art Basel a prized venue for both the artists and those who appreciate their work. With annual art shows sited on three continents – Europe, North America, and Asia – it is the only art show with such global reach.

 

The Genesis Project: a visionary drama in photography

Epic, awe-inspiring, moving and important: Sebastião Salgado’s photographs are revered by public and critics the world over. An economics PhD, he only took up photography in his 30s, but the discipline became an obsession. His years-long projects have captured the human side of a global story and also tell a deeply personal story that nearly killed him. His latest work, “Genesis,” comprises breathtaking images that document the world’s forgotten people and places and is the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society.

On over 30 trips – traveled on foot, by light aircraft, seagoing vessels, canoes, and even balloons, through extreme heat and cold and in sometimes dangerous conditions – Salgado created a collection of images showing us nature, animals, and indigenous peoples in such shocking and intense beauty it takes our breath away. In GENESIS, one discovers the animal species and volcanoes of the Galápagos; the penguins, sea lions, cormorants, and whales of the South Atlantic; Brazilian alligators and jaguars; and African lions, leopards, and elephants. Through Salgado’s lens, we travel over icebergs in the Antarctic, the volcanoes of Central Africa, the ravines of the Grand Canyon, and the glaciers of Alaska. We encounter the Stone Age Korowai people of West Papua, nomadic Dinka cattle farmers in Sudan, Nenets and their reindeer herds in the Arctic Circle, as well as the Mentawai jungle communities on islands west of Sumatra.

 

 

The city is an ever changing canvas; street art is meant to be ephemeral.

Worn away by the bustle of cities, eroded by rain or painted over by real estate developers, graffiti has evolved into art—making some famous such as the elusive English street artist, Banksy. However, the internet has brought the once maligned art form to a higher level of recognition and respect by preserving it. Google Street Art Project does just that.

What some call vandalism, others call street art. Where some see criminals, others see outlaw poets, heroes of free speech taking their work directly to the people, bypassing galleries and auction houses, and democratizing the relationship between art and the public. That outlaw freedom jumped time and space last week when the Google Street Art Project announced it was doubling its worldwide database by adding 5000 new images.

Launched in June 2014, the street art database features roughly 260 virtual exhibits from 34 countries where you can browse art or hear guided tours. More than 50 organizations partnered on the project, southern California contributors being Wende Museum in Culver City, Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles.

 

Flying saucers spotted in London show that communication and technology really are different.

Technology changes so rapidly that if you don’t focus on the message you’re behind before you start. For example Pepsi Max has surprised commuters with their “unbelievable” augmented reality installation at a bus shelter on New Oxford Street in London. The intervention locates a special real-time display on the exterior face of a billboard wall, which visualizes a realistic augmented live stream of exaggerated events from the inside.  Unsuspecting bus passengers are terrified by a glass screen showing the street scene overlaid with apolcalyptic scenes of mayhem and destruction. From a giant robot crashing through the road’s brickwork to a passerby being abducted by flying saucers, the interactive experience creates unusual scenarios on the street, engaging the public for a publicity stunt. But will it make people drink Pepsi?

esqA past issue of Esquire featured the latest digital technology to dazzle advertisers and consumers alike, “augmented reality.” Its cover displayed a code designed to interact with PC-connected video cameras. The “augmented reality” offering features video clips, a music track and even an interactive marketing section. You can visit www.esquire.com/the-side/augmented-reality and experience the fusing of print and interactive and judge for yourself whether this will save print as we know it.

I love this technology. It’s new and fun and geeky—and like the James Cameron film, “Avatar”, which changed the way films are made—it’s amazing. However, for some reason it makes me think of 19th Century author Victor Hugo who probably never used the word “technology” in his life. He wrote his massive tomes, such as “Les Miserables”, by hand many times before publication; but somehow he communicated with such insight and power and relevance that when he died more than two million people took to the streets of Paris in a spontaneous show of respect. We all will have to decide what the difference between technology and communication is for ourselves before all human ideas become lost in the digital ecosystem.