Future Implications


The Future

It’s 2186. Everyone has a computer chip implanted in his or her brain. This allows thousands of minds to collaborate on projects such as Lifebots that allow people to live hundreds of years or longer, and figure out how to program plant DNA to grow structures that reach 62 miles to the edge of space. At least that’s the future in my 2008 science fiction novel, Elevator 37. Two factors helped to originate the idea of this form of collaboration: Microsoft SharePoint, and crowd-source marketing. We see an example of the crowd at work on blog-post LEGO, BUT NOT MY EGGO. How farfetched is the idea? Follow this link to BrainSwarming: Because Brainstorming Doesn’t Work.

Pace of Change

Considering how computers have changed, Braniac, Univac’s first computer in 1952, IBMoved from the mainframe to the mid-range AS400, to personal computers. Now we have tablets, smartphones, and Google glasses. In addition, we have wrist-smart phones, now. Where will this take us? Considering Moore’s Law, and the miniaturization that occurs, that chip in the brain might not be too far off.
If we get the chip in our brains, our thoughts might be deluged with intrusive advertisements all day, and all night. That represents disaster. Somehow, the message recipients must have the ability to control the messages, even on the smartphones, Google glasses, and wristwatch computers, else pandemonium will rule. That middle of the night ad for suds detergent must go. That users need to control the inputs suggests they will select brands to follow and that some form of crowdsourcing will prevail. The crowd will rally around brands. Social media will fill the role of the strange attractor, as in chaos theory.

A Return to Humanity

There is one important issue. Technology can only take marketers so far. Researching human behavior will take the lead position in the marketing effort. A recent Harvard Business Review article, An Anthropologist Walks into a Bar, speaks to this issue. A major European brewery with great store sales lagged behind the competition in bars and pubs. After conventional research failed to deliver the answer, they turned to anthropologists to conduct ethnographic studies.

The researchers visited the drinking establishments, observed the people, and produced 150 hours of videos. The patterns indicated that most of the promotional materials held little value; female servers resented the playfulness required for the job, and felt trapped. Armed with this information, the brewery customized promotional items for different kinds of establishments and educated salespeople to know each bar owner (target market) better. They used the bar owners’ input to create promotions. In addition, they trained the staff about its brands, and provided taxi service for employees who worked late. Sales rebounded.

The Harvard Business Review is not alone. The June 2014, American Marketing Association concurs. In an article, senior staff writer, Christine Birkner says, “…when it comes to researching customer behavior, there’s no better method than direct observation” (Birkner, 2014, p. 23).

Both articles recommend ethnographic studies to gain the best comprehension of the target market, which is where it all begins. The conclusion is that while technology is a wonderful tool, directly observing human behavior matters more. This provides a better understanding of what the customer really wants.

Uses in Social Media Marketing

Whether utilizing traditional marketing or social media channels, marketers can use this information to fine-tune their marketing communications efforts.

Findings for the Future

  • Marketers cannot rely completely on technology as the be-all, end-all solution to marketing their products and services.
  • As Kotler and Keller write, “Marketing planning begins with formulating an offering to meet target market needs or wants” (Marketing management, 2012, p. 347).
  • Understand the target market. Human behavior matters.
  • Know which communication channels will reach the market. Don’t rule out traditional forms of marketing that may be effective. Read, Most Millennials’ Store Choices Influenced by Print Media for a revelation. A Nielson study says that most millennials state that print media affects their store choices.
  • Create great messages.


It appears that social media technology is an extension of the marketing effort, and the wise marketer begins with the target market and its behavior. Traditional marketing still holds sway in the marketplace; don’t abandon it—yet. Social media amplifies the message when used properly.

Happy Marketing!




Top Characteristics of Successful Viral Marketing (IMHO)

9.2 Viral Marketing Initiatives

What are the top elements that make content viral?
1. Free Stuff
2. Easy to Share
3. Exploits Human Motivation
4. Tell Me a Story
5. Not Boring
Do these elements work? If so, why.
Free Stuff
In this era of social marketing, everyone offers some form of free goods: free software, free trial, free subscription, and more. Many salespeople will bring a small gift for the gatekeepers. Based on the theory of reciprocity, free goods or services create a sense that one should try to “repay, in kind, what another person has provided us” (Cialdini, 1993, p. 19). In other words, the receiver of the gift feels obligated to return the favor. It turns out that all societies have this obligatory penchant, making it a desirable tool for web marketing (Cialdini, p. 20). According to Freidman, reciprocity theory will induce customer to be more likely engage in a purchase with a free offer (Friedman, 2008). Free stuff works!

Easy to Share
In jujitsu, a person would use their balance to leverage to build momentum to thrust an opponent in one direction or another. Viral marketers do the same; they thrust the video into other spaces every time a viewer shares or a blogger mentions the piece. YouTube has a video of the The 50 Best Viral Videos of 2014 (shown below) that you can share with ease by inserting the URL into the medium you choose. In addition, you can hit one of the share buttons at the bottom of the media. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Exploits Human Behavior
In my post, Marketing with Maslow, I spoke of the Hierarchy of Needs, one of which is Belonging. This level in the hierarchy includes the urge to communicate or be social that human have. Sharing fosters connecters as well as a sense of belonging, the normal human need to be accepted (Montana, 2008). Akin to this social need is having humanity and tapping into the audiences’ passions. This might entail crating a homemade video to which everyone can relate, as most people prefer to hear live bands, mistakes and all because it’s human and fun.
Tell Me a Story
Salespeople learn early in the game to tell stories or they find people don’t listen to their presentations. Some of the sales books were all about painting word pictures for prospects and clients. The same holds true for viral marketing. Why word pictures? An old Chinese proverb says, “One picture is worth ten-thousand words.” (Yes, the original quote is ten-thousand.) Yang and others write, “an image can be described as a bag of visual words” (Yang, 1997, p. 1). With viral marketing you have the advantage of using both words and images. Making word/image associations improves the chances the content will be remembered.

Think about it this way: selling is Peer to Peer (P2P); social marketing is P2P. Driving this point about telling stories, in an article in Ad Age, GE CMO Beth Comstock “We are all people,” She adds, “I’ve made it my calling to say business marketing does not have to be boring marketing,” Ms. Comstock added. “You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything. We’ve had to create content that appeals to a wide range of customers and shareholders.”
Another side of P2P is that this peer-to-peer relationship is less formal than traditional forms of marketing, which shows in the many humorous videos. Unfortunately, many of them fail the humor test.
Not Boring
In the article, Beth Comstock mentioned another facet of successful viral marketing, “marketing does not have to be boring. That’s an understatement because boring doesn’t work. Un-boring does work. It might be that boring doesn’t garner the attention of the audience.
Underscoring this may be some sage advice from Social Media Today, which notes a best practice is to be “funny and sweet,” preferably both. Part of this is developing a brand personality. After all, viral is P2P, and people enjoy humor.
On the academic side of the issue, Milkman and Berger wrote in the Journal of Marketing Research, that positive is better than negative, and content that evokes high arousal (positive or negative) is more viral (Berger, 2012).
Why go viral?
In his E-Book, The New Rules of Viral Marketing : How word-of-mouse spreads your ideas for free, David Merriman tells the story of how IBM reached hundreds of thousands of people and improved the corporate image, at a low cost.


Berger, J. M. (2012). What Makes Online Content Viral? Journal of Marketing Research Vol. 49, No. 2, 192 – 205.
Cialdini, R. B. (1993). Influence: Science and Prectice. New York: Harper Collins.
Friedman, D. A. (2008). FREE OFFERS: A NEW LOOK. New Mexico Law Review Vol 38, 49 – 94.
Montana, P. J. (2008). Management 4th Edition. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series.
The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing. (2012). Retrieved from Web Marketing Today: http://webmarketingtoday.com/articles/viral-principles/
Yang, J. J.-J.-W. (1997). Evaluating Bag-of-Visual-Words Representations in Scene. El Paso: Woodstock.


Got Strategy?

#strategic planning

Not Interested in Strategy?

Recently in an interview with a potential client about creating an internet-marketing program for his business, I mentioned that we needed to develop a strategy, and I wanted to k now what his business objectives were. He reacted with the comment, “I don’t want anything to do with strategy. I just want to market on the internet with social media.”

Maybe he didn’t want to divulge his objectives, or more likely, he didn’t have any. He was flying by the seat of his pants and running his enterprise on an ad hoc basis.

To his comment I replied, “Everything in business is strategic.”

Is it? This really made me wonder about it because he was successful in his endeavor.

I think everything in business is strategic because of several key reasons.

A business’s leadership needs to carefully consider and develop a strategy if the organization wants to achieve the results they are seeking.

  • Strategy is the basis of all plans and organizational activity.
  • Strategy consists of an array of decisions that define a company’s objective, goals, and mission.
  • Strategy clarifies the firm’s mission. It allows a business owner to position the business in the marketplace. It defines where you are, and how to get where you want to go. It defines how a company will succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

In other words, the decisions we make today help determine our tomorrow, which can be positive or negative.

Peter Drucker described strategy as, “analytical thinking and commitment of resources to action.” He said the strategic planning process had several attributes:

  • Continuous or non-stop
  • Systematic or logical
  • Organized or structured
  • Measures or calculates results

He noted the difference in plans, mostly that there are plans that lead to action today. From the concept that there are plans that lead to action today, we can deduce that action plans originate in strategic thinking, create something innovative and different in the marketplace.

Well-crafted strategic plans align strategy with business goals. To get the entire organization on the same page, an organization needs to communicate the goals and strategies to every level in the entity in a cross-functional, horizontal method. That is to say, collaboration is required from all individuals involved in the corporation. (It’s wise to consider external stakeholders, too.) In addition, they must be measurable. Measurement applies to communications, too. Effective organizations plan, track, and measure all aspects of all their plans. Doing this allows firms to assess the effectiveness of all programs at all levels.


What do you think of strategy?