Tag and tell technology: If this old chair could talk


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How often how you heard that phrase or one just like it, “if these walls could talk, just imagine the stories they would tell!” Now they can! Check out Talesofthings.com where you can upload story attached to a bar code; a properly equipped Smartphone can scan the object and pick up the story attached to the object. Rob Walker describes this and  other efforts to accomplish much the same outcome, tagging an object and allowing mobile-based access to the story attached to the tag. Talesofthings emerges as an effort to leverage the Internet to help preserve the social history of things that might otherwise seem entirely too disposable.  

In a prior post, From browser to buyer: stories that sell, I recounted the added impact of an artist telling you how and why they created the piece they did. Sometimes the object becomes more interesting and more attractive because of the personal story. Yes, it’s better if the browser sees a connection between the object and their own personal story. But in lieu of that local coffee shops have seized on power of stories, recounting fair trade practices and the lives of coffee bean farmers, hoping you will see more meaning in their coffee than just an ordinary cup somewhere else.

Technology allows us to take creative sales activity a few steps further, with stories available on command. Imagine where this is going…

Phase one: Simple story telling. This exists now: tag and tell technology enables object scanning, story upload and download by anyone with a device that can read the bar code.

Phase two: Video tags proliferate. Tag and tell technology becomes more efficient; instead of reading a short story, you can access the equivalent of a short YouTube download, whereby you can see the artist tell a story, or see and hear a story about the item you might want to purchase. To some extent this capability also exists right now; check out the range of stories at TOTem, the UK project on the internet of things.

Hmmm….When the technology becomes efficient enough, I’m guessing there will be an entire market around repurposing TV commercials for use on product tags. Just imagine getting random access to one of those funny Super Bowl Budweiser commercials just by scanning a bar code on a can.

Phase three: Prospect-specific stories. Tag and tell technology with high capacity of data storage. Imagine scanning an object with your smart device and the story varies with a few facts about you, the potential buyer. It’s not all that different from entering a website where your choice between a few personas guides your subsequent navigation around the site and its offerings.

So who cares?

Marketers will thrill at the opportunity to have more influence on the stories their products can tell.

The efficiency of sales operations will also flourish, as each item in the store has the potential to tell you its unique history or better yet it’s features and benefits.

And it doesn’t stop there…

As this technology evolves I expect we will also see it extend further into the home. I keep the tag on my mattress long after the purchase (you know, the one you are risk imprisonment for removing), so why not retain the technology-story tag long after you purchase an item? Walking around the average home may be something like taking an audio tour at your local museum.

Someday I plan for you to come visit me at my home and as you walk around please feel welcome to scan the objects on the shelves. Each will have story to tell. And make sure you stop by the oil lamp from Cairo – imagine the stories that old thing can tell!  

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Sokol
A psychologist with an eye for the ways organizational dynamics make it possible or impossible to delight customers, I see the world from the eyes of customers, employees and leaders who strive to transform customer experience.


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