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Six Senses, A Whole New Mind & Content Marketing

The Mind Seeks, photoillustration by Russell Sparkman

The Mind Seeks, photoillustration by Russell Sparkman

A friend and colleague, Mike Hearl, recently loaned me a book, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World,” by Daniel Pink. He gave me the book in the context of discussions we’ve been having as a part of an Economic Development Council that we’re members of here in Langley, Washington.

The premise of the book is that we’re moving out of an “Information Age” and into a “Conceptual Age,” a time where people who design, people who create, people who see the big picture and can synthesize vast amounts of input are who will lead us forward.

Where the former age was predominated by ‘left brain’ knowledge workers, and characterized by high SAT scores and MBAs (accountants, lawyers, executives, and such), the latter age will be characterized by creators and emphathizers, or ‘right brain’ thinkers.

It’s an age, suggests the author, where an MFA will be as valuable as an MBA.

According to Pink, “we’ve moved from an economy built on people’s backs to an economy built on people’s left brains to what is emerging today: an economy and society built more and more on people’s right brains.”

A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink

A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink

Pink goes on to describe how factors such as Abundance, Asia and Automation are making it difficult to compete, grow and thrive. “Mere survival today,” he says,” depends on being able to do something that overseas knowledge workers can’t do cheaper, that powerful computers can’t do faster and satisfies one of the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age.”

So, what does all this have to do with New Media Storytelling and Content Marketing, you might be reasonably expected to ask yourself at this moment … ?

Pink describes that there are Six “high concept, high touch” Senses that one needs in order to develop the “whole new mind” that the Conceptual Age will demand. As I read through the “Introducing The Six Senses” section of the book, I began to realize that there’s a lesson to be learned from Pink’s concepts that can be applied to content marketing.

Here are Pink’s Six Senses, modified to pertain to the content marketing and new media storytelling discussion:

1. Not Just function, but also DESIGN
Just having the bells and whistles won’t cut it. You can have all the Web 2.0 features and functionality you want, but it won’t be enough without design that is also attractive, beautiful and emotionally engaging.

2. Not just argument, but also STORY
Your web presence is not an electronic brochure. It’s who you are, a virtual extension of your organization’s culture, personality, etc. In a world full of information and data, communication, understanding and persuasion are achieved through a compelling and engaging narrative.

3. Not just focus, but also SYMPHONY
Synthesis, and being able to see the big picture, and being able to “combine disparate pieces into an arresting new whole” are what Pink describes as requirements in a world of ubiquitous information. As this applies to a content strategy, it means looking for ways to tell your engaging story or narrative by making connections, by blending, by mashing-up different content sources and types to create a new whole.

4. Not just logic, but EMPATHY
Forging relationships means caring. Whether it’s with a customer who’s buying your product, or an individual you want to persuade to support your cause or to change their behavior, empathy will prevail over logic. An online content strategy that demonstrates empathy, or care, for the site visitor is one that takes the extra step to be the most helpful and informative about the product or subject matter. It’s one in which “teaching” is viewed as an important component of “persuading.”

5. Not just seriousness, but also PLAY
In life in general, there are benefits to “laughter, lightheartedness, games and humor.” What sense of play can you bring to your own content strategy? Is there an opportunity to use adventure to get your message across? Or to use games? Or maybe just some silly videos?

6. Not just accumulation, but also MEANING
The capacity to touch people’s emotions, to provide meaning, is one of the more compelling and exciting aspects of creating online storytelling and content. Imagine the best TV, the best radio, the best print content that’s moved you, that’s provided meaning in your life. Now, go out and duplicate that in your own online content marketing strategy.

Combined with more “left-brained” marketing activities such as market research and analysis, the above concepts offer important guidance for reaching the online audience through inspiring and compelling content plans.