If the current economic climate is not a call to panic, it's at least a reason to worry. The degree and intensity I leave up to you. It seems to me in talking with people all around different industries and jobs, that in the confusion over where the real value is we have lost sight of some of our most important principles.
Umair Harque articulates them well in a recent talk at Brite:
I won't attempt to summarize his words, you can watch the video from the conference. Where have all these great things gone? Where are we going from here? His talk gave me a few ideas on marketing conversations and the future.
The Internet changed everything, or at least many things. It helped bring forth the idea of going direct. As more and more people can publish and share their ideas and connections, grow their social capital, and learn to work collaboratively, there is less and less need for an institution or entity to orchestrate, control, and direct the flow of information.
The cost advantage that was represented by scale is now made up by distribution as in distributed human networks of interest. So in fact we have a loss advantage - with less infrastructure to maintain, individuals and collectives can be much nimbler today.
With market transparency, it is easier to tell who is the real deal and who is not. Who is the first question we need to answer. This concept is not new, Jim Collins has been talking about getting the right people on the bus for a while. What I propose is that we learn to take a hard look at who is driving the bus.
Dominance and control are being replaced by responsiveness and resilience. Customer service is the new marketing. Many organizations pay lip service to the idea that customers come first. Those who truly embrace customers as the center of their business, who can go from a mindset of dominance to one of responsiveness will win.
This is an environment where consumers have been replaced by customers - individuals with personalities, needs and likes. With each contraction in the marketplace, each layoff, the resilience, creativity and innovation of individuals has amazed me. Organizations are still wrestling their need to control all the action when they could partner with their customers.
With honesty in conversations, it is faster to get to the heart of things. People have big hairy audacious goals and they are working hard to make them happen. Understanding those goals and starting a dialogue to enable them might be the better course.
This one is too big to overlook. There's no neat formula that can get you meaning on a spreadsheet. As marketers still wrestle with their brands and the points of differentiation, or value props, people are already measuring the contribution of their companies in difference - what difference do you bring to the world?
If social media is showing us anything at all - and I'm sure there are plenty of skeptics on the subject - it's that of a two-way conversation, something that tends to be overlooked often. Can you put monetary value on conversations? I'm thinking old boys networks, cricket clubs, university alumni are all examples of monetized conversations.
It was a habit formed during the industrial revolution that people would become cogs of a machine. That time is way past in today's' service and experience economy. I'm seeing tomorrow's economy moving even more towards trusteership and value.
This is not simply a dam that can stave off the floodgates of marketplace forces. It could be where we're going from here.