Last night I was paid to take part in a panel of experts (who me?) to give feedback to a financial brand about the trends we saw, their future strategy, blah blah. I met some interesting people and we talked and talked. Most of it was conducted focus-group style behind a one-way mirror and the best bit was when we came out and actually met the client at the end.
This allowed me to vent my concerns about the excessive amount of mediated communication in marketing. Too often, companies experience their customers at one remove, filtered through professional researchers, and then communicate back at one remove, through professional communicators. This has its uses but I think often just deadens the relationship and is responsible for a lot of very dull advertising. Sometimes these “communications professionals” just get in the way.
In a way, the format of the evening was a symptom of the problem. Although I’m perfectly happy to be paid to talk, I’d much rather have a real conversation than be dealing in abstractions through a one-way mirror.