As I reflect on my career I have been thinking about how the marketing profession has changed over the last few years: the internet, mobile devices, social media and now tablets are just examples of drastic changes in the world we live that are changing the marketing profession.
In a way, the challenges marketers face today with social media (“I guess I need a Facebook page but I don’t know what to do with it”) are very similar with the challenges marketers had 10 years ago with the internet (“I guess I need a web page but I don’t know what to do with it”). The way people interact, research information and buy products has changed.
Consumers are evolving faster than corporations. The gap is a threat for existing businesses and an opportunity for entrepreneurs.
A great case study is Blockbuster. The company recently went into bankruptcy and was de-listed from NASDAQ. What I find really interesting is that the rise and fall off Blockbuster happened over a span of only a few years. The chart below shows the stock price for the last 10 years. It is reasonable to assume the business failed because of an inability to adapt to the new world, a new world that created an opportunity that was captured by Redbox and Netflix.
It is easier to be a historian than to be a prophet, of course. I imagine there were conversations in the Blockbuster conference rooms talking about market dynamics and threats – but it is hard to change the status quo. It is really hard to fundamentally change a business when it is generating billions in revenue
Today marketers at large face a similar dilemma. The marketing tools that worked 50 years ago don’t work anymore. Marketing no longer can be only about creating messages and buying media to broadcast those messages. Today’s marketer must think about how to empower and amplify customers to be advocates. CMOs know they need to balance their investments by shifting dollars and focus to digital and social, but the path is unclear. Marketers know mobile is another disruptive change – few know what to do with it.
As Christopher Stutzman from Forrester puts it, “To Avoid Extinction, Marketers Must Replace The Bad Habits Of Traditional Marketing With The Habits Of Adaptive Marketing”. In short, marketers must become adaptive.
I considered choosing a name for the blog that was centered on Social Media, but then I realized that social media is only one of the discontinuities that is impacting marketers. I already had a blog on Mobility. I have blogged about the web too. If I call my blog something about social media, I would have to change the blog in a few years. Or months.
Peter Drucker published The Age of Discontinuity back in 1968 (before I was born!). he wrote “Businessmen will have to learn to build and manage an innovative organization. They will have to learn to build and manage a human group that is capable of anticipating the new, capable of converting its vision into technology, products and process, and willing and able to accept the new.”
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