Welcome to: “I Beg to Differ”
An irreverent series for marketers, builders, leaders, and thinkers. Not always right, but always forthright!
When I wonder, did the marketing and customer experience people lose their mojo? There is an almost cheerleader culture in the ranks, where we repeat catchphrases, slogans, and mantras without stopping to think. It’s as if, someone ran off with our brain. Well, I beg to differ!
Do you like my introduction?
I‘m using “provocative appeals” theory, where the principal (me!) seeks to provoke an audience into engagement through anti-establishment, or even extreme narrative. Now, I hope it worked, because I so want you to read this. But also, I’m serious.
The “Profession” — I’ll use that term to wrap up everyone that operates in the marketing, CX, eCommerce, loyalty, et al — is in a period of great change. Of this, there is no doubt.
The technological advancements in every domain, have been enough to make your head spin. Right across the business spectrum, but also right across the personal lives of every human on the planet.
The decade that ended on the 31st of December 2019, included the mass-scale adoption of the Internet from 2B users in 2012 to around 4.5B, the proliferation of mobile to the extent that it replaced the desktop as our “1st screen” by 2015, and who could forget the rise — and rise — of social media.
Humanity is Having a Say
But where the real rubber hits the real road, is our humanity.
At the same time that all this newfound digital capability was invading our lives, our society has been in a massive transformation. Our social constructs, values, and behaviors have all shifted, pivoted, and in some cases, completely morphed from decades-long norms.
In short, we are evolving. Fast.
Digital Darwinism, is defined as a period in which technology and society is evolving faster than businesses can naturally adapt to.
So I guess I do kinda know when the Profession lost its mind. It was likely somewhere in the throws of trying to keep up. It is actually, totes understandable.
Through the proliferation of technologies from vendors (e.g. CRM), the re-imagination of some capabilities (e.g. marketing automation); the consumption or embedding of newer technologies like user journey orchestration or identity management into wider eco-systems; and the emergence of new capabilities (e.g. AI and experience management); the challenge has been to both learn, and to re-learn.
Scott Brinker reckons there are now over 8000 products in the martech stack!
But it was the merging of tech and society at scale that really got us. It forced new thinking in areas like influencer marketing and thought leadership, content and social strategy, experience design and dynamic customer journeys.
In short, the Profession has had to evolve from process-centric, to human-centric. And we haven’t been very good at it.
We are Taking Shortcuts
Now, I gave this its own big bold heading to ensure that the point is made, but I’m not going to labor on it, over than to say that this is a real problem.
You see, we have been reverting to the use of heuristics way too much. When someone says something like, “frictionless experience”, we just adopt it like a lost puppy and repeat it like we’re getting paid to. It becomes a mental shortcut.
Well, I’ve written about the fact that “frictionless experience”, doesn’t even exist! Yep, that’s right, it’s not a thing. Yet it is a buzz term that we have been way too enthusiastically adopting — without critically thinking it through. And there are others — heaps of others.
But my point isn’t the buzz terms in themselves. These are only an illustration of our propensity for shortcuts. We need to think with a little more gravitas and intent, and to do so we need to learn new concepts.
What We Need to Know — and Why this Series Helps
So after the first few years of grappling with our own evolution, if we — the Profession — are really going to adapt and embrace the next chapter in growth strategy and customer engagement, we really need to adopt new understanding.
To that end, here are the themes that you can expect to see in my writing, and why.
Engagement Economics: I am a massive believer in the principles of engagement economics as fundamental to how we establish and grow brands, from the enablement of a trust foundation to the mountain-tops of activation, and ultimately — lifetime customer value.
Foresight (the study of Futures): In business, we are all trying to build a better tomorrow, through revenue or market cap or whatever. Well, the study of futures is exactly that: The methods for building “preferred futures”. They should be mainstream.
The Social Sciences: To be effective in any of it, we have to grow our understanding of society and culture, and of her people. To do that, I use learnings from psychology, neuroscience, sociology, and behavioral economics.
Macro History: The human race has a crazy habit of having to constantly re-learn, what should really be the basics. There is so much ancient wisdom that we need to re-discover — in all aspects of life, and yes — in business!
Digital Darwinism: As defined earlier in this piece, it is the collision of our digital advancement and our humanity that is really where the good oil is.
Where You’ll Find It
I work with five main Medium publications who get most of my work.
> The Startup
> Better Marketing
> The Innovation
> The KickStarter
> The Ascent
Whoever publishes them though, all articles can be found right here on my Medium profile.
So hey, thanks for reading this far. Please come back again. I won’t always be right, but I hope to provoke new thought — and have a little fun along the way.
All the best :)