The Internet: For Healthy Minds, Bodies And Business

  • by September 12, 2003
I am a big fan of how the Internet has helped bring people and industry closer together by creating smart marketers and smart consumers. The improvement is obvious in the travel and financial industries and equally within the automotive industry. I am a smarter consumer of these products today than I was five years ago and a much better partner for American Airlines and USB and General Motors.

Ditto healthcare, although I admit my wife is the smart shopper in that regard. She spent a day researching adenoids over the weekend and is now equipped to more fully participate in the proper care and diagnosis of my son's persistent nasal congestion with his pediatrician. It was that kind of knowledge that led to x-rays last year that revealed a sinus infection in the poor lad, but which his doctor might have overlooked except for my wife's internet-informed persistence. My wife and our medical trades people work hand in hand today supporting our family's health. Everybody stands to benefit.

This sort of partnership is being forged today in the music industry. After years of struggling to connect with audiences, particularly young audiences, the music industry is finally in a one-to-one conversation with their best, most important future customers. It looks ugly now, but real communication is taking place underneath. Courtroom testimony is bound to reveal some pretty deep anger and resentment on both sides. Getting that pain out in the open is healthy and I expect lots of hugs down the road. Already, the recording industry has responded by dropping prices on CDs. Can the warm embrace of music lovers be far behind? You watch: sooner than later people and record publishers will actually be working together to build CDs, with the artists fetching cappuccinos for them in the process.

Reconciliation and partnership is possible in other areas, too. Media, for instance. For years the New York Times has been "All the news that's fit to print," but that's an impossible burden to carry in this global information age. No wonder audiences and advertisers have grown scornful and mistrustful of their media providers. Who can possibly keep up (and, at a fair price)? Mercifully, a Forrester report ("The Internet's Big Impact on Media, 1998 To 2003, September 4th") documented recently that for Business information, Job listings, Movie listings, News (, Real Estate, Reference Information, Sports, Stock quotes, TV listings - basically everything - the people, supported by the Internet, are unburdening the New York Times and other equally overburdened media outlets of the trivial, every day, need to know kind of things. This frees those outlets to pursue other news (including pictures) that's, well, nice to know, but which has been left behind. By cutting away we have encouraged new growth. Together.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander, so the Internet as an advertising vehicle is destined to benefit marketers in the way that it has benefited traditional media by transforming "Eat this!" into "You look like you might be hungry." Marketing relationships are increasingly, openly sensitive. Consider the new sense of openness between people and telemarketers engendered by the urgent discussion of privacy online. No more calls in the evening. No more nasty hang-ups. Equally as open, consider the day my wife spent huddled over the issue of adenoids: fiercely determined and on a mission. Lasting customer relationships will grow in the open and honest spaces created between those evening telephone calls and those adenoids. Real partnerships. It's why I dismiss the concerns of so many advertisers that people are harder and harder to reach. Only if you're trying to reach them by telephone.

Everybody feels like they carry most of the burden in a relationship. It's pretty clear that's what the recording industry is going through with their customers and prospects right now. But, despite what it seems, the Internet is bringing people and industry together. That's a good message to share with our friends in the recording industry who need our support, and, obviously, a good one for us in the media and advertising business who may need the same kind of support dealing with changes in our own relationships. It may seem like conflict right now, but it leads to healthy minds, bodies and business. Just ask my wife.

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