January 14, 2003 Volume 2 Issue 29
More alike than unalike
Late in the '90's I wrote on this topic. It's time for an update.
In my lifetime the world has become homogenized. Meaning the peoples of the planet earth have become more alike than unalike. And they are becoming more and more so every day.
Since the Korean War 1950's there have been several significant events. Each a major step to get us to where we are today. And each had a major impact on marketing. Products and services, new and traditional, branded and not - these events shaped the world of marketing.
First - the jet airplane engine.
In 1958/59 DC-8s and 707s took to the skies. Travel been cities, countries and continents was cut in half. Airplanes had been around for a while. During the '30s PanAm introduced the Clipper fleet and true passenger travel began. Yet, it wasn't until jets were hung from the wings that people and planes really came together.
People learned they could experience - and enjoy - something unique and different. They also learned communication between these "different" people wasn't so different. And certainly not so difficult as they may have thought.
Business grew. Trade between peoples began with the second person on earth. Between nations it took a little longer. The British Commonwealth opened that door. Ships moved goods back and forth. Yet, it wasn't until the airplane the trade door opened wide.
For people it was the jet engine that made a difference. For when "the people" learned they could not only visit with others, and then do commerce, things became truly different.
So, marketing, advertising and sales began a slow walk down a new path. At just about the time Kennedy and Nixon staged the first presidential debate in the USA. Things have not been the same since. In either commerce - or the political arena. All because of the jet airplane engine.
The second non-marketing event began it's influence June 1, 1980. That's the exact date a "crazy" guy named Ted Turner threw a satellite into the sky and named it CNN.
There were probably less than a 100 people outside Mr. Turner's group who thought a 24 hour all news network would last. Or have any influence. Well, as those in 210 countries, and counting know, it did much more.
Today it is a rare hotel you or I are in anywhere in the world that does not offer 2 or 3 versions of CNN. Plus 1 or 2 others ... such as Fox, MSNBC or CNBC, the BBC.
Satellites brought the Gulf War into our home. We watched the Rodney King riots - live. June, 1989 - the square in Beijing ... we watched. The OJ chase. The Berlin Wall coming down. The immediate aftermath of the Princess Di accident. And daily . . . the current middle-east events.
"Live" reports from Camp David. The summer and winter Olympics. The floods in Texas ... and Bangladesh. The fires of Colorado. The volcano in Iceland. The changes in Cape Town. Arrests in Karachi, Pakistan.
What this means is the world sees through a different set of eyes. The selection of media and of topics is much grander than ever before. Granted, we view only what the journalists elect to share. Not always a complete picture. Still, you have more options in 24 hours than your parents did in a lifetime.
Yes, the second non-marketing event to affect marketing was information satellites.
Point 3; the third truly non-marketing event was created in 1969. Yet, it wasn't until 2 decades later that it mattered. We call it the Internet. The World Wide Web portion of the Internet. 1991 was the year. Created for research and military communication efforts - it has (and is) changing marketing. The third such happening.
WOW, what WWW has meant to marketing. As we walk into through the early years of the 21st Century, the web has become the darling of the media world. We no longer ask IF you have a web site ... we "assume" you do. We ask for your call letters.
Just as we know you have a mailing address, a fax, a phone - we "know" you have a web site. And if you don't we're equally surprised as if you said you didn't have a television or a radio. It is "expected" that if you are a real business you will have a WWW address.
Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures says the Web is a "revolution of the mind". He may have something. All (well, most) that is on the WWW has been and is available someplace else. "Knowledge" has always been out there for us. The Web makes it different only because this knowledge is now so readily - and easily - accessible.
When was the last time YOU went to the book library? I can't recall my last visit - years and years ago. Today I go to my laptop, type in www.somethingorother.com, and bingo - in seconds my search has begun.
There has always been "the customer". I recall my engineer trained dad teaching me; "you ask what your customer needs, and you give it to him". At a basic level the local corner grocer did the same with mom.
Yet, my dad could give only what he manufactured. And the grocer offered only what was on the shelves. None of this need be so today.
Oh, the philosophy "the customer is always right" has not disappeared. What the Web has done different is to allow the customer to first determine what they need when they need it. And then - big difference here - to search and research, to make a decision, to take action - "buy" - and to move on. There's a very good chance you - the seller - will know nothing of these thoughts. Or these actions.
Unless you are fortunate enough to be the seller chosen by the customer. By the time you know anything it is most often too late to influence the process in any way. If you are not selected - you are out. Maybe never again to get "in" to that customers mind. Yes, there is a "revolution of the mind".
Example; recently I was suddenly in the marketplace for a couple of pieces of luggage. A pair of my most traveled bags literally wore out. Chatting casually with my bride about this, she offered to "shop the web".
In less time than it takes you to read this page she found half a dozen sources for exactly what I was looking for. After a very quick comparison of style, size and price a decision was made. The products were ordered on line. An E-mail confirmation from the supplier was almost instant.
Plus, this time the seller took another step ... the next day they made a telephone "thank-you for your order" call.
Where am I shopping next time I need luggage? Is there any doubt?
The World Wide Web was not envisioned as a marketing, advertising and sales tool. Any more than the airplane was dreamed as such. Nor satellites as a way to bring knowledge instantly to the world.
Yet, each of these 3 non-marketing events - all bursting upon the scene in less than 2 generations of time - have greatly altered how our message gets to our audience.
And isn't it fun!
You can bring "It IS What's Next!"
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.