Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Value of Being Amateur

I recently wrote about professionally-produced videos and music being passed off on YouTube as amateur work and I labeled it "Promateur" creation. I also labeled it as "Inauthentic."

This morning, Seth Godin wrote that there are four ways to offer professional quality service to clients in the marketing business:

1. Hire a professional.
2. Be as good as a professional.
3. Realize that professional-quality work is not required or available and merely come close.
4. Do work that a professional wouldn't dare do, and use this as an advantage.

What Seth is talking about in number 4 is what I called an "Amfessional," and this is an exciting concept. An Amfessional is the person that is doing something that would normally be done by a professional and doing it at the professional level because he or she loves it. It's the MySpace fan site that has more friends than the Athletes own page. It's the YouTube video that is getting more views than the TV ad. In the past, Amateur Work was looked at as shoddy and second-rate. But today is the day of the Amfessional.

Because of advances in technology and the availability of professional-level production and editing tools (i.e. PhotoShop, Final Cut, DreamWeaver) the non-pro "regular guy" can now create and interact at the professional level. And now, more than ever, the mainstream audience respects and assigns value to work at this level. Watch as the model is reversed in businesses where, instead of hiring a spokesperson and trying to create a brand around them (Nike's Michael Jordan, the Snapple Lady) brands are finding individual fans that live their brand and then bringing them onboard (Microsoft's I'm a PC, Coke Zero's NCAA Fans, Jared for Subway).

Watch as Target adds more and more Mompreneur brands and hand-made boutique items on their shelves and erodes Wal-Mart's annual sales of store brands and imports. Watch as the heavy-consuming 12-17 year-old category moves from stocking their ipods with big label movies and music and creates playlists of homemade videos and songs from their friends and connections.

Corporations and Marketers right now are not giving us what we want: Authenticity. In a few more years, maybe they'll get it, but right now is a perfect time for the person in the trenches-- that is closest to the product, the brand, the experience-- to create the meaning for the product his or herself. Now is the time of the Amfessional.


Charlee said...

I totally agree with you on the authenticity!

A perfect example--the Superbowl commercials. I think two of the big ones (Coke vs. Pepsi) were both meant to appeal to the authenticity of the respective brands, as well as several of the beer commercials.

It is kind of odd, as traditionally has the concept of marketing not been to "trump up" products, so to speak?

But in the last 5-10 years, and particularly very recent years, there has definitely been a marked shift (at least to my untrained eye/brain)!

Shawn Butler said...

the Superbowl taught us another lesson this year... the #1 and #3 ads, both from Doritos, were created as the result of a "User Generated Content" contest. Two guys who's full-time jobs are Not Advertising made $1 million dollars.

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