We MUST Understand Change
Over nearly a decade working with hundreds of brands at Nika, I’ve seen all forms of change. From understanding why and how brands grow or fail, to seeing how they market and build their products, understanding change is vital to long term success. Also based on my time at Nika, particularly the mountains of consumer behavior research we do, I have identified a problem: the way people interact with the companies and brands they love is changing faster than most brands and marketers can keep up with.
Marketers have to understand why and how change happens, as they commonly spearhead changes in any organization. As technological advancements continue getting faster, our roles as marketers are changing too. The VP of Marketing is way different now than ten, or even five, years ago.
From a marketing perspective, we need to understand why this rapid change is happening. The best way to understand something is to be able to explain it. So I have identified three trends that, when combined, are truly changing the way we’re doing business
Trend #1: Seamless Mobile Experience
We spend an incredible number of hours every day (five on average, in America) on our phones. That’s a ton of potential customer experiences. Customers want a seamless experience, and mobile can provide this for them.
Let’s say I’m on a hike with my girlfriend and I think ‘You know what? I really want to understand how to hug my haters! I’m going to buy Jay Baer’s book.’ I get on my Amazon app, while walking on the trail, and I order Jay’s book within a couple of seconds, and I’ll probably have it by that night. Or maybe I want to boost my shoe game, so I go on Zappos to look for Nikes. When do those get delivered? 12 hours or so. The same goes if I want to book a flight using Kayak. Vacation can go from a dream to a reality in seconds.
Mobile at its best is seamless and easy to use. If you don’t think these small lags or details affect the way people buy your product or service, you’re losing sales. If I can buy Jay Baer’s book in seconds, but I can’t click the phone number on your website to call you, you’ve got a problem!
We can talk about content marketing all day long, but if your mobile experience is broken, your great content is irrelevant. This is how mature mobile is changing the way the world interacts. From a technological perspective, we all have great, powerful phones. What hasn’t matured is internet usage. Millions of people around the world still don’t have adequate internet access, which is why we see Facebook and Google developing products like weather balloons and drones to deliver Wi-Fi. They want to bring internet to the people, so they can sell to them on mobile.
Trend #2: Whoever Owns the Audience Owns the Market
These large cap companies have one thing that most of us don’t have. Cash! And a whole lot of it! Google’s cash on hand, as of December 2019, was $119B. How did they get all that cash? Consider this. When Google had a five-minute outage in 2013, web traffic dropped 40%. Their ability to own an audience is unbelievable, and unbelievably profitable!
Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon, and the rest all function the same way. These major companies have the ability to disrupt multiple industries because of their wealth, so it’s important for us marketers to be able to track and understand this. Follow the money, if you want to understand change.
These companies spend billions of dollars on R & D each year, which can result in great products like Alexa, or crappy ones like Fire Phone. The point is that they’re investing constantly and fearlessly. One of the main areas of investment right now? AI.
Trend #3: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is radically disrupting almost every industry. For example, let’s look at Betterment in the financial services industry. What I can do in 30 seconds on Betterment takes my financial planner two months. This is completely changing the way a lot of Millennials are investing their money, and the way financial services organizations are looking at technology.
Another brilliant tool is X.ai, a personal assistant that schedules meetings for you. It coordinates schedules with all meeting participants, to book the best time for all of you. Scheduling meetings is a pain in the ass for most of us, and this easy to use tool is taking this needless pain away.
Narrative Science is another one of my favorites. They generate news stories, industry reports, headlines and more, at scale, without human authorship or editing. Forbes did a pilot with them, so if you go to Forbes and search ‘Narrative Science,’ there’s a ton of articles that the program wrote without editing. In my opinion, this is the very beginning of something great.
In these trends, we have seen some of the concrete ways that change plays out. While I do think that a lot of our jobs as marketers will be automated, I know that marketing will survive, because it always evolves. Stay tuned for our next post, which will analyze how and why marketers need to evolve with the changes happening in our industry.