I’ve got a fitness tracking device on my arm. It claims to make me fit. And who knows, maybe it will. It tracks my steps, my calories, my heart rate, my stairs climbed, and possibly my emotional well being. Maybe you have one too.
Some people call this the age of Big Data. We’re swimming in data.
But just wearing a fitness tracker isn’t enough to make me fit.
If there’s one thing the information age has taught us, it’s that information alone isn’t enough.
Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, in 1988, overturned the features and benefits approach for experience. A video of an 80 year old man running replaced information about the shoe. Cognitively, it was probably be baffling, but experientially, it created engagement and retention based on meaning, not a singular transaction. Instead of just communicating data about a shoe, the ad brought meaning to the experience of wearing the shoe. There’s a semiotic meaning to the idea of wearing a shoe.
The difference is how we make meaning. Good marketing now understands that there’s a relationship in the exchange that goes beyond a simple transaction. What kind of life change does my big idea create?
Although the fitness tracker is great, getting more fit requires more than a divide on my arm. me to find meaning in an alternative story of a more fit version of myself than I am now.
Information is a poor substitute for a good story.