Getting Personal – The next growth driver for the gig economy

What will keep the gig economy going and help small businesses compete against global goliaths? What would make me loosen my purse strings and support the local entrepreneur? I found an answer at my Dad’s online birthday party.

My sister and I were chatting about how to make Dad’s birthday special. With lockdown in place, a fancy gift was out of the question. No party. No surprise visit possible. They say music makes the world go around and that’s what came to our rescue. 

On most evenings since lockdown started, I would call home to find dad listening to either Carlton Braganza or Sheridan Brass  as they went live on Facebook. To our good luck, Sheridan was in the same boarding school we studied in, so as a favour, he agreed to host a ‘Birth-Dey Special’ for dad. My brother in law pulled together a playlist of dad’s favourites and thanks to friends from all over the world, who stayed up late to celebrate, we had a magical hour of music. 

This musical experience helped us bond together for an hour in a way that was unique. The handpicked playlist of favourites and a group of friends who got together, made it special.

A few weeks earlier I had logged on and enjoyed a global music event. Some of the world’s best musicians performing on a global broadcast & digital special to support frontline healthcare workers and the WHO. At one end of the spectrum are experiences which I enjoyed sharing with the world and at the other is the hyper local and truly personal. This is where I believe the gig economy will see growth. 

The ability for local artists, entrepreneurs and artisans to create meaningful, personal and special experiences for people they know and care about, will be a crucial one.

The reason I believe people will ‘pay for personal’ is that it will make them feel special. ‘I matter, never mattered more.’ and ‘I trust the person creating the product/experience’ is now playing a big role in opening purse strings. Hyper local and super personal at one end. Extremely global and all access pass at the other.

This ‘just for you and your friends experience’ that Sheridan curated for dad is something we truly valued. But a point to note is that while it was personalised, we did not exclude anyone. Friends of friends and anyone who wanted to could have joined. It’s important to remember that now is a time to include, not exclude. 

With webinar’s and Zoom conferences galore, people are zoning out. But a specially curated, by invite only session, the ‘Creative Sandbox’, hosted in a safe and secure space is working well. The value, I believe, comes from the fact that it’s personalised. Every person’s views matter. But once again remember the caveat – the all access pass. We have been careful to remember to seek permission from the participants and then share the learnings from our closed group discussion with the wider communications fraternity.

Personal and Inclusive vs Personalised and Exclusive

In the last few weeks the power of personalisation has emerged across my social media timeline. Personalised responses from powerful people who have reached out and extended a helping hand to my son as he struggles to set up a new business, makes his face light up. “Dad you will never guess who wrote to me today…” Personalisation has always been a big driver of growth and it’s showing the way again. 

So as the gig economy gears up for the next innings, maybe my Dad’s impromptu sing along with Sheridan holds some clues. That evening was invaluable for our family and friends. Creating this kind of value is where the monetisation and growth will come.

What will I be willing to pay for? If I can get access to global musicians streaming into my home for free? What music will I pay for? Possibly music that makes my family and friends feel that they matter. That they are special. That’s what I will be willing to pay for. In this case because of friendship and past connections we did not have to, but the trail of breadcrumbs that this leaves behind is – there is money to be made in the local gig economy if we get up close and personal. Just remember to keep it personal and inclusive.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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