I hear the past calling and I like it

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Gary Scheiner
Gary Scheiner

I'm sure you've seen the Topps baseball card demo where you can hold the card up to a web cam and a 3D image of Ryan Howard appears before your eyes like Princess Leia beaming out of R2D2. With a few keystrokes, you can make him swing at pitches and run the bases. It's the future of print and it's brilliant.

I get off on all that cutting-edge technology that makes our jobs so much fun and infinitely more interesting than it was just a decade ago. And yet, I long for a time when our world, direct marketing, was a bit more personal.

Sure, technology and database software allow us to have more granular detail about our target and talk to them in new and imaginative ways. But what I loved about this business was the chance to make that human connection; to make that brand really connect in a meaningful way. That's what drove differentiation. That's what drove relevance. That's what drove results.

And then last week I read two articles that were music to my ears. The first was in the New York Times about how the music business, that venerable industry that is quite literally being slain by technology, is fighting back with some good old fashion phone calls. That's right. Stars like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers are getting personal phone numbers to post on their websites and drop during TV interviews. Fans of these artists, mostly teenagers, can call in to hear pre-recorded messages from the artists themselves, giving updates on album releases, tours, or what they're doing at any given moment. Some celebrities are even holding “live” sessions where thousands of their fans can listen in (on mute) as they yap away about whatever. Fans can leave their own messages, which will then appear online. And some celebrities are going as far as returning fan calls, for the ultimate human connection. Talk about being authentic!

The other article was about Twitter's new voice service that allows Tweeters and their followers to talk to one another, one-on-one. Suddenly, texts just aren't enough. And that's okay.

What these articles tell me is that while technology continues to bring us new and exciting tools, it's also bringing us ways to get personal again. What goes around comes around, I guess. So embrace technology with gusto. Let it enable your ideas and spur your creativity. Just don't forget the power of the spoken word, and our ability as marketers to make a human connection.

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