Skipping the curve

Most people at some point question what they’re doing… where their life is going… whether they’ve achieved enough or made the correct choices. Whether they should be playing this game or jacking it all in for a beach shack. This post is for all you guys. ;-)

I, for one, sometimes get sick of the sound of my own voice, repeating the stuff of ‘those who get it’ – as if it’s still brand new. As long as there are ‘those who don’t get it’, perhaps we still feel good about ourselves. Or maybe we’re all secretly afraid we’ve wasted our lives on a load of old bollox?

Here are a few typical state-of-play regurgitations:

- Markets are more competitive and we have more choice (long tail etc)

- Broadcast is crumbling as we filter the noise

- Marketers increasingly have to justify their budgets (and silver bullet solutions fail to deliver on promises)

- Markets are conversations

- Word of mouth recommendation is the biggest influence on purchase decisions

- People no longer trust authorities, institutions and advertising

- There has been a power shift from brand to consumer

- 360 degree, relevant, targeted, tailored, personalised blah blah

etc etc

We bang on about social media and word of mouth as if they’re actually marketing disciplines. Word of mouth is not a marketing discipline. Social media is not a marketing channel.

The reality is, they’re just more of the same thing humans – people of the world – have always done… more communicating. Not rocket science. We’ve always done it and we always will – with increasing speed and ease via technology, in our evermore fluid, diverse societies.

Unless we’re all gagged, of course we’ll share things and recommend stuff. It isn’t a phenomenon; and it doesn’t even necessarily have to be ‘harnessed’.

Okay, so there’s a general coming-around to the idea that advertising is dead. Market research is also balancing on a credibility knife-edge. Back in 2005, Simon Clift, CMO and Group VP of Unilever’s Personal Care Division, said, ‘I just don’t believe in predictive research. And we don’t use it.’

No surprise there, when you think about it. We ask people what they think, what they do and what they’ll do in the future – and take their answers as if they’re objective truths. We extract wads from brands knowing full well that’s somewhat counter to common sense, particularly as we’re in the futurist half-arsed scientist’s club and we know better.

Perhaps we need to ‘fess up and admit the truth… i.e. that we don’t have a clue. Our predictions are based precariously on platonicity. We suffer from confirmation bias, historical bias and more or less any bias you can think of that makes us think we will be and were right.

If you consider the kind of industry thinking and activity we had in the past; the kind we have in the present; and the kind we futurists have about the future… how’s about we skip all that – skip the curve – and start making things happen in line with the future beyond our current prevarications.


Maybe it’s worth considering that marketing is dead (or at least will/could/should be). That business models are people-driven. That nobody wants to have a conversation with a Brand. That there are no Us and Them divides between brands and consumers – we’re all just people. That scalability comes from putting the people of the world in control. That the complex supply chains which leverage the hoarding of knowledge for big bucks are no longer needed nor wanted (we see them falling by the day). That we marketers are no longer needed nor wanted. As individuals, we’ll control our incoming and outgoing communications ourselves; in a punk-capitalist-come-communist society (if you feel the need to name it). The knowledge of the people of the world is out there and it’s spreadable, mashable, monetizable and free. So many of our positions are no longer relevant. What a bloody fantastic opportunity!

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