By Kevin Masi
Business is presumed to be run according to a plan, with measures and accountability. But in today’s turbulent economy planning isn’t possible in the way it’s been previously. Getting to point ‘b’ isn’t linear and disciplined. It involves agility, collaboration, understanding limits—and sometimes disregarding the limits. It takes leadership under risk, facing fear and finding a way, sometimes against the seemingly impossible.
The Sony Corporation played the video “Did You Know?” [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL9Wu2kWwSY ] at their Executive Conference this year. Nearing 3.5 million views, you have likely seen it. It’s a pastiche of dramatic, sometimes shocking statistics, triggering some interesting reactions. Just read the comments to see how people seem to deny or minimize. We can debate the accuracy or source, but these general trends are signaling tremendous change.
What stood out most were 40 seconds into of the video: “The top 10 in‐demand jobs in 2010…did not exist in 2004…We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist…Using technologies that haven’t been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”
This a challenge leveled squarely at marketers. It’s driving the way I am working with my clients, the focus of seminars I’m planning, and topics of articles I’m writing. In extreme conditions, if we plan to survive, we cannot continue practicing marketing as usual. However, that’s not at all to say that things should be done in a dire pall of doom and gloom. In fact it’s an opportunity to ask yourself some questions and to have fun opening yourself to bold new possibilities, such as:
- If my organization or my customer is asking for innovative ways to keep customers, find new ones, and gain new market share, how can I use this as an opportunity to try some of the things I’ve been unable to get support for in the past?
- Traditional media isn’t working the way it did in the past to attract more customers. How can I use this as an opening to pilot web 2.0 and social media marketing?
- Do we really need all the layers of process or is there a more direct way to get results?
- Will my boss or my customer be more willing to trust my recommendations, saving me cycles in bureaucratic CYA activity?
- From banks to boardrooms, and even the corner bar: some people are renegotiating their relationships with us. Some are not. Who are my true allies and whom do I need to reconsider as a friend? After an honest evaluation, how can I strengthen those relationships with my true friends and supporters?
- Who else can I partner with to get my message out? I’ve seen the levels of participation at conferences and in online communities—people are looking for new solutions!
- People are tired of hearing how bad things are: how can I communicate from a position of optimism and opportunity?
These may seem almost wild propositions. But then, most brilliant minds have been viewed as crazy in their time. It’s your call…but don’t wait too long to take advantage of this crisis to exercise your marketing leadership. [http://blog.innocentive.com/2009/02/13/a‐crisis‐is‐a‐ terrible‐thing‐to‐waste/ ].
Kevin Masi is a Principal of Torque Ltd., brand marketing agency in Chicago www.torquetribemarketing.com