Going Gaga for Innovation
What does it take to engage with your audience? If you don’t know the answer to that—or worse, you think you do because you arrived at your answer months or years ago—you’re probably not engaging.
I never thought I’d be saying this, but we should all take a page from Lady Gaga’s playbook. At this past Monday night’s San Jose concert, that woman was on her game. Why? One word: innovation.
Having attended the show, I can attest to the dazzling array of art, performance, and oh yeah, music. This is a woman who knows that times have changed and it’s not just about holding a tune in today’s entertainment world. As the SFWeekly put it, “Note to all future pop stars: You are (out of luck).”
Technology is driving pop culture trends faster and farther than ever before. And as a reminder, pop culture is a concrete reality in our mainstream lives. Neilsen, the market research firm, predicts smart phones will outpace feature phones before the end of 2011. And no wonder, given the productivity and entertainment values afforded by these devices. The world is increasingly becoming borderless and we expect to be able to do whatever we want from wherever we are.
Lady Gaga knows her audience. Which is why a show performed just a few short months ago doesn’t cut it today. She knows that what might have entertained then isn’t going to hold the attention of today’s “what’s-new” generation. If you’re at all skeptical about the difference between today’s consumers and yesterday’s consumers, consider the fact that for most young adults, email is considered too slow. When I asked our new college hire how he keeps in touch with friends, his answer was writing on the wall (Facebook) or texting. According to a Huffington Post article this week, most college-age kids have never worn watches or used a phone with a cord. There’s lots more in the article to remind us that life changes quickly these days, but I don’t want to make you feel too old.
And to drive that point home, remember when Prince (another one of my faves) was considered edgy? I hate to say it, but in Fast Company last month, he actually comes across as stodgy next to Lady Gaga. Check out this article, “Prince Claims Internet Is Dead; Lady Gaga Disproves It.” What’s amusing is how Lady Gaga (did I mention she’s an innovator?) has used the Internet to make huge advances with her career that would have taken years for performance artists not too long ago.
So for those of you who are trying to shape and influence in the business world, rethink what you know about your target audience and always remember that by today’s standards, the medium is—more than ever—the message.