What the relationship between the industrial revolution, a microwave, a smartphone and a goldfish means for agencies and brands today
In the past, the advent of technology allowed us to dedicate more time to doing the things we like.
The industrial revolution took us out of the fields replacing the muscles of man and animal with steel. The advent of home appliances meant you could allocate scarce time resources to other pursuits without worrying about preheating ovens or lighting a fire. These landmarks gave us freedom, yet with the arrival of the smartphone we find ourselves in the peculiar predicament of having a lower attention span than that of a goldfish. This technological device has freed us up to become more narcissistic.
That’s maybe being a bit harsh. A better comparison would be - we have moved from a period of Socio-economic Revolution to that of a Behavioural Revolution and because of this brands and companies have been placed in a rather compromising position.
Why? Because we, as a species, are getting better at multitasking and making shortcuts to satisfy our aims.
Now, our brains are going through an evolution as opposed to the environment around us.
Emotionally we not be quite there yet because of stress but perhaps in X amount of decades our emotional state will have adapted so we don’t experience the world as being so hectic. A short attention span will no longer be a curse word, but just a state of being.
However, for the time being, we are learning to better sift out the crap we don’t need in our lives and that is being fired at us via a tonne of brand messaging. This has culminated in a stat that says most of us wouldn’t be bothered if 93% of brands disappeared off the face of this earth.
The challenge, therefore, is how to be relevant to the masses of today and tomorrow’s future customers as brands are quite simply, fighting against extinction, when apparently only 5% of brands make a meaningful difference to people's’ lives. Not only that, nearly 60% of consumers are actively taking steps to avoid brands which bombard them with poorly targeted communications.
This means agencies need to be both brutal with their clients and with themselves in order to dodge the morgue.
So, what can we do to prevent what is inevitably going to be an ugly and swift demise, if we don’t act now and find a new way of doing things?
The traditional business model works round a grand release, a launch at a predetermined time in the future that everyone works and sweats towards. No good.
Businesses, brands and agencies need to adopt a more squiggly approach - a collaborative paradigm - to the way they launch products and services, where you might have a first release than needs tweaked to become a second release and so forth before it fully reaches the market.
It is also important to take the 4 traditional components that make up a business: business strategy, product, marketing and technology and...
Smash That Sh*t Up
In order to create experiences businesses need and people want, you need to break things.
We need to push the boat our conceptually. The best solutions come from small groups and ideas, do not come from predetermined sources. Now more than ever, we need approaches that transcend departments, industries, models, channels and technologies.
Only by breaking down these conventions can you begin to exist at the intersection of them all, the sweet spot, a place where reacting to swift and disruptive changes in the marketplace don’t throw you off course. Fight chaos with chaos.
Here are some further pointers:
1. Don’t hinder or stop your employees from doing whatever they want. All it takes is initiative, a plan and willpower to get on with things. Let your employees fly.
2. Realise that ideas and solutions don’t come from predetermined sources. They come from everyone.
3. Be straightforward and upfront. Why complicate things? Say what you feel now. Awkward silences are well...awkward.
4. Lose the egos and foster partnerships internally and externally in order to try and become the most collaborative entity on the planet. Yeah, this is not easy.
5. Don’t think about the present think about what’s next.
An openness and willingness to exchange ideas is the only way to fend off extinction. And in 2017 that is true in more ways than one.