Like Eliot Alderson, I don't pay a lot of attention to what passes for television these days. So I missed the start of the Mr. Robot season back in June. The building buzz around the show eventually caught my attention and I had to see what the fuss was about. Once I started, I wasn't able to stop. The show does an amazing job at capturing some important aspects of what is happening in our culture today. Some of what it tells us is depressing (are even the "successful" among us with good jobs doing scripts?), some of it is hopeful (people still believe in justice) and some of it is just interesting. Given that I view the world through the lens of marketing technology 40+ hours a week, I thought the show was a great reminder of how much has changed in the way that companies are interacting with their customers.
Your Clients Are Now Hacking Your Company
Just like Eliot ‘hacks’ everyone in his life before talking to them, your potential customers are trying to hack information about you before they buy (or sign up). Whether it's review sites, their social network, search engines, or something more insidious, your digital game is essential. They come to your door knowing more than ever before about everything you've done right (or wrong). Try to play games with information asymmetry and you'll lose.
You Can't Make People Pay Attention
Whether you've got a loud internal monologue going (hopefully you're not imagining people!) or simply looking down at your phone, brands simply cannot force customers to pay attention to them. People need to want to engage with you. Whether it is compelling content, a discount, or a free widget, this means you need deliver them value from the get go.
Relationships Are Complicated
Eliot owes his rent check (and if that isn’t enough, his drug money) to the money he makes from AllSafe, which largely comes from Evil Corp. However, at the same time, he’s also working to take them down. It’s complicated. While most of our brand relationships are not these extreme, what we buy today has a lot to do with what we believe. What a company sells is important, but its values are also big drivers of purchasing decisions. A brand story that only tells the ‘what’, but not the ‘how’ won’t work.
Privacy Is an Anachronism / Security Is a Feature
Whether or not we all want to admit it, we trade in our information every day. In exchange, we expect companies to serve us better and protect the information we give them. In the digital age, that promise to serve and protect is one almost every brand makes. Delivering on this promise means that every company’s tech stack needs to be well built, from development to the hosting environment.
Mr. Robot’s vision may be dystopian, but it also reveals the possibilities brought about by the advancement of technology. For marketers, those possibilities come with great responsibilities. Treat them with respect while delivering value to your audience and you can succeed in this, our modern world.