By now, I'd wager cold, hard cash that you've heard it all before: marketing's just not good enough, cool enough, interesting enough, fast enough, real enough, tough enough, slick enough, noisy enough, responsible enough.
And, as rousing and convincing as those arguments are, you've probably also concluded that the state of the art as it stands is, truth be told, more than OK to get the job done .
Yet, while we might not want to admit it, I bet we all know it: we can--and should--do better .
The fact is, the future of marketing's probably not going to be the past of marketing, just bigger, faster, noisier. Put yourself in the shoes of one of the so-called "consumers" who, a few short years from now, has to submit to a daily barrage of four thousand flying, spinning, tracking, shouting "ads" hunting you down like enraged banshees from your browser, to the street corner, to the bookstore, to the ends of the very earth for a moment.
That approach just won't cut it when it comes to meeting the seemingly insurmountable challenges and imperatives of the 21st century: including managing "resistance" from self-organizing networks of...
Often, when I'm invited to speak to boardrooms, I start by gently saying: "Listen up folks. Business is brain-dead. Right now, even as we speak, your business is probably undergoing a slow, barely perceptible, but wholly pernicious brain death." I might take a custom-made, baby-soft $2000 loafer to the head and get muscled out of the room, but as I'm ushered through the cubefarm hinterlands I try to explain: "No, really. I don't say this for effect, it is literally true: business has a serious cognitive malfunction--an inability to process reality".
Here's a question to test yourself: is your economic design based on real costs--or fake, inauthentic, perhaps entirely fictional ones? In my experience, the vast majority of organizations fall squarely in the latter camp.
Consider, for a moment, the "costs" that make up the bulk of "business models." The telco industry depends on "roaming costs." The banking industry depends on "overdraft charges" and credit card surcharges. The software industry, on "per-processor (or per-seat) licenses." The music and film industries, on dubious "expenses" of all kinds . The healthcare industry, on spiraling therapeutic costs--often unwanted, unnecessary, or downright ineffectual. The auto industry, more and more on "financing,"...
In light of recent events, here's a tiny hypothesis: In a hyper-connected world, revolutions spread. Tahrir Square, Trafalgar Square, and Times Square aren't miles apart--but inches.
Think the revolution in Egypt is yesterday's news? Think again. You know how the flu spreads--the first glimmering sign of a great global epidemic is a small eruption here and there. My hunch is that Egypt is just the tip of the iceberg, the spark signaling a larger conflagration--a viral epidemic of contagious, self-organizing revolutions, hell-bent on ousting the creaking, rusting powers that be.
I'd suggest we're witness to the first wave of a larger movement spearheaded by the world's young, fiercely devoted to toppling the tired, toxic status quo--whether they sit (and protest) in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen or Wisconsin and London.
What created an environment so conducive to the spread of this epidemic? I'd put it this way. Yesterday's institutions were built to narcotize us into sleep--and while we dozed, they purloined our future, looted our societies, trampled nature, eviscerated our communities, ransacked our values, and body-slammed our own sense of self-worth. If we ever needed a revolutionary imperative. . .
Here’s a thought to chew on while you’re considering your new year’s resolution: if it’s not laughably impossible, hopelessly impractical, preposterously insurmountable—stop. Start over. You’re not doing it right.
Let me explain, with a little parable. In 2007, Blackberry-maker RIM was king of the mobile hill. Yet when word of a disruptive new phone—from an industry outsider, no less—began to spread, RIM didn’t just downplay the news, it discounted it almost entirely. RIM seemed to think that Apple’s nascent iPhone was literally, well, impossible . RIM had access to the same chips and circuits, the same mobile networks and carriers, the same raw materials and currency, as Apple did. Of course, the iPhone wasn’t impossible—it was very real. And the rest, as they, say, is history.
So here’s the question: why do most companies have such a narrow, blinkered view of the possible? Why don’t they even attempt the impossible? And why, when rivals do attempt the impossible, do most organizations (like RIM) have a kind of organizational cognitive dissonance—why are they so mentally threatened by the sudden, stark violation of their own most cherished beliefs that they refuse to believe anyone else...
This time of year we tend to subject ourselves to tough review. We zero in on our practices and tendencies and resolve to take up new, positive habits--and, more importantly, to break the bad. It can be a productive exercise if approached with a clear eye and dedicated follow-through. My question: why don't we subject our institutions to the same ritualistic rigor?
As I've argued in my new book , instead of creating enduring, authentic value for people, our institutions--corporations, banks, governments--consistently, systematically, one might say, habitually, extract wealth from them. The result is the game of musical chairs that is the crisis, writ large.
What, then, are the habits of this set of industrial age institutions? They're the stuff we live and breathe, practice and do: strategy, marketing, finance, and the rest of the drear, dismal, passionless stuff that makes most of us snooze through meetings, dread Monday mornings, and that embezzles joy, plenitude, and significance from our days. When you think about it, those habits were deliberately designed to reduce our emotional, creative, and ethical intelligence, our sense of bigger purpose and our shared, enduring ideals.
A humble confession: I'm bored. As mind-implodingly, soul-suckingly, spirit-munchingly bored of business as Jason Voorhees probably is of Friday the 13th.
Let me explain why, via a tiny theory. Porter's five forces , the 5 "C"s of marketing ? Forget it. I'd suggest that today, nothing characterizes industrial age business like the Five P's . Business is Pedestrian (in its vanishing smallness of ambition), Predictable (in its furious obsession with the trivial), Predatory (in it's hyperaggressive selfishness), Pompous (in its unvarnished self-importance), and Pointless (in its lack of usefulness to people and society). What it really excels at is pumping out inauthentic, unsustainable, illusory value--instead of the real thing.
Does this sound harsh? Consider some recent, everyday, humdrum headlines.