Is this the big BLOCK to understanding new marketing?


Understanding shifts in power may be fundamental in understanding the new marketing.  In Powershift Alvin Tofler describes the generic sources of power as violence, wealth and knowledge. He sees power moving along a continuum Starting with violence which can only being able to be used negatively, wealth which is potentially both positive and negative and knowledge which is empowering and therefore positive.

During the Industrial Revolution, power shifted from the nobility which relied on violence to industrialists and financiers who acted through wealth although often used negatively. Power derived from wealth is now being overtaken by power derived from knowledge.

20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. In this video he talks about linking data and making a more powerful and more equal sharing of knowledge.

Our business education teaches us about power and control, we learn about planning, implementing and controlling. We manage all our business processes by measuring and adjusting them in order to keep them in control. When we study the top marketing texts we learn from prominent authors such as Kotler and Keller who talk about the process of marketing and the process of branding and the management of brands, in which marketers exercise control.

It’s a discussion about power.

The underlying assumption is that organisations have branding power because largely they have control over the information that the consumer gets. Certainly the information available in store and in the media.

But more and more research is showing that there is a gap between the way organisations value brands and the way consumers value brands, this thought is explored by John Gerzema in The Brand Bubble. He regards it as potentially catastrophic.

So what is this all telling us?

The power shift process that Tofler was telling us about is a fact and it is  the most fundamental societal change that we will experience during our lifetime. This change has been accelerated by the process that Sir Tim describes in his talk at TED. It will be future accelerated by the windows that all of mankind will soon have to the machine that is the World Wide Web, access through computers, notebooks but ALSO through cheap $100 cloudbook or netbook computers, but maybe even more importantly through the window to the www provided by the ubiquitous cell or mobile phone.

The marketing and business challenge.

We must learn that we have to give up the illusion of control that we have over our brands. I say illusion because the force that I describe is irresistible, its take up in the rural areas of Kwa Zulu Natal may be still a way off, but not that long a while.

We have to understand how this new world citizen lives, how he interacts, and how he uses this knowledge. We need to understand very quickly how he or she transforms and shares the knowledge and the communications instruments he or she cheap editing software through blogs, vlogs, twitter and online sharing sites such as YouTube, and how quickly this information spreads around the world.

We need to understand that brand will no longer be in our control, because we don’t control the information. The brand is in the control of our customers because they have the knowledge, the access to data and the ability to share that data through the Internet.

What business, Ad Agencies and everyone in marketing needs to understand is how to let go, how to let consumers co-create our brands.

We have to give our customers, our fans, the tools to allow them to use those tools to build our brands with us.

This is not as scary as you think.

Photo from tattoodjj’s stream on Flickr
Posted on March 14, 2009 at 10:20 am by Walter Pike · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Karen Lotter

    What a great post! It is hard for marketers and ad agencies to understand that the power is truly with the people. I keep trying to explain this to clients, friends and anyone who will listen.

    I work a lot with emerging businesses – some from the rural areas of KZN – and they are certainly getting connected. Mobile phone companies have container-shops across in townships and rural areas the province. Public access computers are available at a range of places. As soon as broadband access becomes cheaper (maybe within 12-18 months) there will be a cacophony of new voices on blogs, twitter and all the social networks.

    Business needs to become involved and join in the conversation with customers and fans and build brands together.

  • Swing Trading

    Insightful read. I have just bookmarked this at stumbleupon. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

    • Walter Pike

      Thank you!