Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Get a Life

On Monday, over on The Boston Filter, Maura Welch posted on a send-up of Second Life that's making the rounds. It's called called Get A First Life, and it's a priceless send up. Not much to it, but what's there is great. Some gems:

  • Your world. Sorry about that.
  • Go outside. Membership is free.
  • First life is a 3D Analog World Where Server Lag Does Not Exist

As parody, it's just hilarious.

It also points up something that's deadly serious. The more we get caught up in the virtual world, the less time there is for the "real world". Yes, the real world can be messy, noisy, scary, and annoying. But there's no substitute for it.

Sure, I do a lot of online shopping. But I also like to thumb through the catalog. And sometimes I even like to go to the store and browse. And try things on. And paw through the sale rack. See if I can find a helpful clerk. Chat with the person ahead of me in the check-out line.

If it's a grocery store, I like to examine the yellow peppers myself, thank you. And I'll be the judge of whether that cantaloupe is ripe. Sometimes I actually put food close to my nose and sniff it.

I like the weather. Right now it's cold. And we had a little snow, too. Pretty much the first of the season. I hope we have at least one major howler before winter's over. Snow and cold make it all the more fun when the crocuses start to stick their heads up for real, and we get our first sweater weather. What's the weather in the virtual world? Yeah, you don't ever step in a puddle, but you don't get to smell summer rain on a hot sidewalk, either.

As marketers, we of course embrace the new technologies that are available to us - and the new way that our customers and prospects expect and want us to communicate with them. But sometimes what we really need to do is pick up the phone and call a customer just for the hell of it, just to check in. No strings. No marketing. No sales. Just person-to-person connection. "How's it going?" "Thought you might be interested..."

Sometimes a prospect will open that direct mail piece - especially if it's an interesting color-shape-size. After all, these days, it's becoming a rarity. Sure, it's easier to forward an e-mail marketing piece on - but it's also pretty darned easy to just click right past it. And they also might (correctly) figure out that the cost of sending this e-mail is so low, well, it's probably going out to everybody - no matter how "personalized" the subject and content are.

Sometimes, your customers and prospects will want to see you in person. Will want to actually meet you before they buy from you.

Second Life, Life 2.0, whatever we want to call it, is just great. It opens up all sorts of avenues for communication, for learning, for sharing, for developing a community with people you would likely not meet in real life.

But let's not forget the First Life's been around for a good long while and, with any luck (and some political will) it'll be around for a good long time in the future.

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