Today I’m going to share something you will think is negative that is actually positive. It’s positive because it’s a learning lesson for all of us in what Geoffrey Moore eloquently called the “Crossing the Chasm” period of business history. Or what Peter Drucker noted was a movement from the industrial economy into the cognitive post-capitalist world.
Your brand is going to fail.
So why would I in my right mind say this is good news? Think about failure for a moment. We’ve all been there in our personal or professional careers. What did you take away from it? What was the true learning? And most importantly, were you able to pivot quickly from this failure and transform it into a success?
Brands have been living in what we’ve known as the “industrial economy.” Built on size and scale, the more global a company and the ability to monopolize, the larger the relevance and profit margins. In this era bigger brands with the most resources swallowed all of the audience, market share and attention. But in the age of disruption big brands are going to have to learn, unlearn and relearn very quickly. Their size will work against them and they will have a hard time personalizing their brand solutions. The era of scale is coming to an end and if you can fail fast in this transition you will not only survive, but thrive in the “long tail niche” era or what I call the “creative economy.”
Brands will need to pay attention to three things to make the shift.
1. Brand marketers who think they live the brand simply because they work on it need an attitude adjustment and fast. So what? Do you use the products? Are you the target audience? It’s time to realize that the very stewards of the brand do a disservice to their brands because they bring innate bias to their decision-making. Those that can throw out this bias by following the next point will have the ultimate advantage.
2. Customers who live the brand should be on your band management team as advisors, influencers and feedback agents. If you have the resources to pay for millions of dollars in wasted advertising, you have the money to do audits to find your top customers and pay them to be on your advisory board. They live and love your brand. You don’t. You’re simply the aggregator, the change agent to bring their knowledge and feedback into better products, services and solutions. How many times has a Gloria, Doug, Tiffany, Maria or countless other customers who have given you feedback been ignored because their insight would hurt your career management review? Swallow your pride, drop the ego and realize the line between customer and brand marketer has blurred. The faster you can realize this, the less turbulent the transition to this new era will be for you and your brand.
3. Data, analytics and everything else written about in quantified modern marketing is simply a tool to understanding customers based on mathematical equations. But people aren’t a calculus formula. Furthermore, their quantified actions are equations based on past behaviors. The past is not prologue in this new creative era. If customers see you doing things your competitors will do they will simply say, “Why don’t I go use that other brand?” This is the issue we see in a variety of industries from tech to healthcare to consumer packaged goods to telecommunications. Stop trying to be your competition. The more you differentiate, the more human and approachable you can be, the more your customers will continue to advocate in your name. People advocate for people who have a soul, who are authentic who keep it real. Remember this the next time you are calculating an ROI spreadsheet.
Now ask yourself. Are you doing any of what is stated in 1, 2 or 3? If the answer is no to my question well I have something to tell you that you’re not going to like.
You’re failing. It’s time to pivot and make that a positive.
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