The Murmur oral history project has created a very interesting way to communicate with people in a location-specific way.
"We collect and make accessible people's personal histories and anecdotes about the places in their neighborhoods that are important to them. In each of these locations we install a [murmur] sign with a telephone number on it that anyone can call with a mobile phone to listen to that story while standing in that exact spot, and engaging in the physical experience of being right where the story takes place. Some stories suggest that the listener walk around, following a certain path through a place, while others allow a person to wander with both their feet and their gaze."
This concept feels eminently portable into other environments.
How about having a recording of a decorator helping me understand how to avoid making the wrong choice of paint colors for a hardware store? Or a label on a line of skin-care products where I could hear how to choose the right combination for my age and skin type? Or a bank poster with a phone number on it that has a recording about the product?
This kind of communication could feel personal if done well. It could give me an expert view without the sales pitch. It could offer an extension of expert help outside regular business hours or outside the regular business location. It offers the potential to provide expert help where none was formerly available. And it can let the customer engage in more information without engaging in a sales discussion. That alone would be of interest to many people.
Murmur started in Kensington Market in Toronto in 2003. You can experience Murmur in three Toronto locations, as well as Dublin, Edinburgh, San Jose, Vancouver and Montreal. You can sample a Murmur recording by clicking on the maps on the web-sites listed. Not as much fun as strolling around the city and listening on your phone, but a way to take a mini-holiday at your desk on a Friday afternoon.