Saturday, July 16, 2016

Slower Growth Demands Creating New Demand

Just read an article by one of my favorite futurists and big thinkers - J Walker Smith, of The Futures Company and it made me think and embrace the role marketing has in driving business growth. It's less about projecting and pro-formaing annual increases in appreciation for products sold by the business. It's less about financial modeling and those equations. That is the traditional strategy for success in a high growth economy - when there is an expanding pool of more people able to pay a higher price for your products sold. Modeling and projecting volume and velocity of increases. That worked in a high growth economy.

The article makes a powerful case that the slower growth we are seeing is not a down cycle soon to rebound, or a "slower than expected recovery". J Walker Smith and team lay out how and why the economy has been shifted to a lower set point that will persist, and any cycles will go up and down around this set point. Enter marketing, and the huge job of creating new demand. Slower growth is a consumer disruption of demand. Growth won't come from more people willing to pay more for what we sell. It will come from expanding our product and business offerings within this bounded, constrained market a.k.a. from creating new demand, not following previously predictable economic trends and projecting aggressive growth rates. 

Our job is to rethink and reshape markets constrained by the cycle of slower economic growth reduces consumer spending - weaker consumer spending reduces economic growth. 


  • Look at the demographic shifts in who has money today, shifts in social values and impacts of technology - it's at the intersection of these and other factors where new pools of potential can be created
  • Look at the cultural edges - it's here where leading edge consumers live and are doing their part shifting cultural and social values - and in so doing changing what customers judge as a value proposition. That shift can create seismic new product opportunities. 
  • Look at the disruptors - outside your industry - for the risk-takers disrupting other industries, and not just for entertainment, but as inspiration to change your business model. And then change it! 

The full article is here, and worth the read. It's one of the best my marketing mind has read in some time about what we all seem to be referring to with phrases like, "The economic recovery has been slower than we projected", or "we projected higher increases in the recovery than we are seeing", or "we're still not back to the normal markets before the crash", or "the new normal". 

It's a siren call to marketing types in all industries to use your powers of observation, your ability to connect disparate pieces of information and find the "so what factor". Find a way to ask "how might we" when you see a glimmer of new potential demand. And, take the hill. The future of business depends on it. We can count and model money all day long. It's going to get more difficult to make it. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dear World.

Dear World.
Tears drip from my fingertips onto my keyboard tonight. #Dallas. 12 officers shot. 1 civilian. 5 dead. It has to stop. There are only so many times Facebook profile pic badges can honor the senselessly lost. 

Dear World.
It used to be horrific events would happen rarely and infrequently enough that I would remember where I was at the exact moment it happened. The Space Shuttle Columbia explosion, I was in the tunnel at Carleton University, first year Journalism student. Oklahoma bombing, it was my brother's birthday, April 19th. Columbine, I was just finishing a press check on a brochure for a client. 9/11, I was starting my day at my marketing agency and client/friend, Stephanie was on her way to the airport in Vancouver and called me to tell me why her flight was cancelled and to turn on the TV. Virginia Tech shooting, I was checking into my hotel in Raleigh and the front desk clerk told me. Sandy Hook in Newtown, I was at work in San Diego. Boston Marathon, I was on a conference call with the Tampa team, in my office in San Diego - it was a sunny day. 

Now there is an event as awful as this it seems once a week. Charleston, SC. San Bernardino, CA. Paris nightclub. Roseville, OR. Orlando, FL. These are the ones I remember from the past few months. NOT the ones I can never forget. The balance has tipped. What once was a rare, shocking occurrence has become a shockingly common one. 
This week aloneTurkey airport. Bangladesh coffee shop. Baton Rouge, LA. Minnesota, MN. And now Dallas, TX.

I will walk into the office tomorrow, past colleagues who will be staring unemotionally and blankly at the big screen TV on the wall as they wait for their coffee to brew. Some will ignore them and walk past. Others will stop and engage, and pass judgement and predictions about why this happened and who's to blame. 

One of our co-workers is in Dallas tonight, with her son in a national fencing championship - he came in second in his age class. They are staying a few blocks from the Dallas events. I texted her to check in. She was calm, trying to get her son who was very upset ("My son is flipping out. I need to play it down because he's a mess") safely back to their hotel after enjoying a baseball game. No mother should feel that. No child should feel that fear. No mother should lose their child (and 5 did so far tonight) to the violence we experience daily. 

Dear World. 
Please resist the cause-effect flawed equations. Please resist placing blame, and inflaming the anger that is so prevalent. Please resist drawing conclusions to reinforce a position, or god forbid make it a political statement in this crazy time. As leaders - and all of us are leaders in our own way - whether as a parent, a business owner, a manager of people in an organization, or just someone the guy at the local coffee shop talks to, we need to change the discourse. There is far too much anger, hatred, judgement, and just pure frenzy. 

As leaders, we need to speak, teach, and act tolerance, compassion, kindness, patient, love. Anything but the spread of judgement and hatred so much a part of the dialogue today. 

Dear World. 
It has to stop. Make the screaming and pain and violence stop. We are much better than this.