30 Apr Elusiveness of change in an experience economy
An amazing brand leader I know recently told me, while hiking an approach together, that life is not about collecting assets but about collecting experiences.
Sage advice or the idealism of a young brand leader? Don’t we all start out with brash and radical ideas only to temper them over time to the point where we are pure practical, investment-minded conservative risk-averse druids of the modern business world?
The answer is elusive. Assuming the world of business is static and the above-mentioned young business executive works in a predictable market or industry, one might see such a predictable pattern of ‘maturing’; but that is nothing like today’s business world.
- Trade Shows used to mean gathering points for industry professionals to meet and write orders for products in one place, at one time
- Research used to mean putting together a survey and processing results in a way that achieved the ‘right’ result (that supported your own viewpoint)
- Marketing meant finding great imagery and putting as much supportive information on your product or service next to it and getting it into the Press
- Press simply meant magazines and newspapers
- Advertising used to mean pushing your message out to a willing and captive audience of potential consumers?
- Employees meant vetted and carefully hired people incentivized to remain loyal to ‘the company’ for decades, or even most of their life? (the ‘company man’)
- Selling used to mean dialing for dollars, a simple numbers game of conversion based on maximum attempts (using a call center these days?)
- Management used to mean knowing more than the underlings you were responsible for and keeping that information within a tight, trusted circle?
- Customers were people you marketed and advertised TO, not WITH
- Offices were buildings where teams of people worked in close proximity for 8 hrs each day?
- Designers used to be hired to loyally build a brand’s products behind the scenes for years?
- A tool that kept your contacts handy was called a Rolodex
- Content meant articles written by journalists and published by the Press (see above)
- Strategic Planning used to mean putting ideas together over a month or two (mostly updating a prior year plan) and then executing that plan over the next year?
- Remember when the word ‘Spokesman’ or ‘Spokesperson’ was in vogue?
- Remember when forecasts were stabs in the dark based on long experience (the widened sage) and educated guesswork?
- Remember when data was something scientists used?
- Remember when the word ‘vogue’ was in vogue?
- Remember when being inclusive meant you were ‘color blind’?
Maybe you can relate to the above laundry list, or maybe you are too young (i.e.- a millennial). Regardless of your age, the information age has made change the only constant in business; even more disruptive is the fact that the pace of change is moving at an ever-quickening pace. The changes I’m referring to are not moving from industrial age to information age, although I did hint at that earlier… these are all changes in the past 5-8 years as the Consumer has risen as the central decider for what will become nearly all industries! Whether it’s choices about how to purchase energy for their home, or how/when/where and if to purchase recreation equipment for their families, consumers have quickly learned how to leverage information and use their newfound power to shape the markets they participate in.
The “new normal” involves redrafting company structures to be more nimble to adapt, more flexible to respond to dynamic forces shaping their market (consumers!), and more intelligent in iterating through waves of innovation. Whether the business is an events business (facilitating face-to-face human interaction), a manufacturing business (the much-heralded ‘IoT’) or a services platform (leveraging human capital), old models are falling by the wayside and new models are rising for smart brands and organizations across the spectrum. Combining wisdom gained through experience with cutting edge methods and strategies is the right approach for those looking to win in today’s ‘experience economy’.
The opportunities for forward-planning businesses are huge in this age, but it’s going to mean accepting big changes in structure, support and feedback mechanisms in a constant stream of innovation at every turn. Are you prepared for this new paradigm of the ‘experience economy’?