These are some observations that influence our marketing approaches which I presented at our 12th Mentor Summit at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island this week.
1. Volatility reigns. For the foreseeable future, volatility with be the new “normal.” Use it to create market advantage. Convince clients that “this, too, will pass” is no longer relevant, and that their best bet is to exploit the volatility. Picture yourself in a storm, helping your clients to safely navigate. That means you need the courage and navigational skills yourself, and you’d better get accustomed to high degrees of ambiguity.
2. Perceptions are malleable. We create others’ perceptions of us in three ways: Our behaviors are far more influential than anything we write or say; the content of our communication creates powerful impressions; and the process of how we communicate creates beliefs and expectations about us. This is happening by default in any case, so we might as well become adept at creating the perceptions most favorable for us.
3. Generational demographics are less important than the quality and affluence of your target market. I’m not a big believer in big labels, like Gen X, “the greatest generation,” “boomers,” and so on. I cling to the humble notion that people are individuals nor herd animals. Find the target market which has the most volition and ability to purchase your services, and penetrate it. I suspect that in most cases it will be a generational cross-section.
4. Increasingly narcissistic individuals. In an age when everyone believes their latest hair cut, meal, and lint removal belong on twelve social media platforms, they expect an almost nihilistic freedom to gain attention: talking back to motion picture screens, screaming on cell phones in public, demanding attention and instant gratification. There is increasing “noise” and commensurate lowered attention in the environment. You need to create differentiation in order to be heard.
5. Wholesale and retail markets are overlapping. The individual (retail) market includes the owners of small businesses who need personal help, and individuals in large organizations who require individualized approaches. The organizational (wholesale) market includes large groups of individuals who gather together in communities, professional associations and other entities representing common interests. Unlike past times, both can rise or fall concurrently. It is no longer a hydraulic system.
6. Intellectual property is now instantly transportable globally. Your appeal through ideas and innovation can find acceptance quickly in highly diverse markets. You need to be fearless about spreading it—protect it intelligently, but don’t allow the risk of unethical people stealing a portion of it to dissuade you from pursuing huge markets.
7. Not investing in self-development is like not changing the oil in your car. Just as you should schedule vacations far ahead of time and schedule work around them, so too should you schedule vital self-development and make it sacrosanct. Otherwise, the tendency is to sacrifice your personal development when business and personal priorities conflict.
8. Learning integration is key, not “information hoarding.” Just as collecting business cards (instead of initiating relationships) is a dumb way to network, simply gathering and storing information is generally useless. Computer files filled with saved emails, references, “research,” and articles are not helpful unless the information can be readily accessed at the right time for the proper purpose. In that case, it becomes knowledge.
9. What is your “fresh air” source? What devices are you using to inject new ideas, opinions, techniques, and alternatives into your life? If you never change (or at least add to) your acquaintances, friends, and colleagues, you’re going to find yourself in a stuffy, poorly ventilated room, with a lot of cigar smoke. I like cigars, but they’re best out in the fresh air.
© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.