Marketing’s Solvay conference is over.
We were a ragtag group of revolutionaries. The first meeting of the Agile Marketing Congress was well run and productive. The idea that marketing needs a revolution or a good shaking isn’t surprising to marketers. Even non-marketers immediately get it when asked a simple question, “How do you feel about the way you discover and interact with products?”
Futurologist Faith Popcorn famously said, “People don’t BUY brands they JOIN them.” The amazing thing about Faith’s statement and what proves she is indeed a futurologist is her famous quote was shared well before Facebook, Twitter or StumbleUpon. The irony of having more ways to join brands and fewer brands we want to join hasn’t escaped most marketers.
Marketing is sick and overwhelmed. Sick because we don’t know how to “make” markets anymore. Every favorite tactic from print ads to TV is contra-indicated. No one has enough money to force anything down anyone’s throats anymore (thankfully) in a flat, furious world of ubiquitous “always-on” connection the marketing game changes.
Even more than the state of our technical world is our hearts and minds. Our hearts, shaped by seeing thousands of ads daily and the constant strum and Drang of interruptive media shouting media demanding attention for nothing at all, have sent a clear message to our brands – ENOUGH.
Marketers are nothing if not empathic. We sense shifting winds and changing weather. We sit on long boards bobbing off the coast waiting for the next big wave. Marketers’ ultimate hubris, so well evidenced in AMC’s MadMen, was to believe they could swell the ocean with waves on demand. Great brand marketers such as David Ogilvy were humble despite their ability to be otherwise:
A good advertisement is one, which sells the product without drawing attention to it.
Marketing’s Messy Room
Wonder what Ogilvy would make of the mess we’ve made with the art he left? Instead of heeding Seth Godin’s call to STOP interruptive ads, stop attempting to speak to people we don’t have permission to touch, we increased the volume. Perhaps, faced with an extinction event, doubling down is an understandable human tendency. Surely Godin is wrong and the world as we know and love it will go on. Not so much as it turns out.
Our room is messy cluttered with yesterday’s clothes and broken toys. Inviting our friends into such a room is proving increasingly painful since they leave quickly and in droves. What Godin couldn’t convince Google has made certain. Goolge’s latest algorithm changes, innocuously enough named Panda and Penguin, are Moore’s Law of the first order.
Moore’s Law, in case you’ve been under a rock somewhere for the last twenty years, is the fuel of our new Internet connected world. Intel founder Gordon Moore wrote a paper noting and predicting an exponential increase in the power of integrated circuit, those little chips the power everything now, even as their costs would fall through the floor.
Google is the natural extension of Moore’s law. Google’s ability to employ more integrated circuits than the military is possible because of Moore’s Law. Google ability to search an infinity of information to find anything much less a relevant answer to our questions is fueled by the nuclear engine that is Moore’s Law. Make no mistake; if Google didn’t exist someone would have created it. Google, Facebook and Twitter were inevitable.
Moore’s Law makes it possible to date the death of Madison Avenue, the end of advertising to 1965 when Moore published his paper. The world was already changing. Moore articulated the change that Google would then make billions from as if they had the ultimate “insider” knowledge. Moore’s law was a wave most marketers missed save the bald startup entrepreneur of YoYoDyne Industries (Seth Godin’s company’s name before selling it to the ill fated Yahoo).
Agile Marketing To The Rescue
Having missed the big wave, or more accurately having the big wave knock us off our boards, marketers need to jump back up and surf again. Problem is, despite the loud and incessant alarm, our room is so messy we can’t find our board, our wax or our wetsuit. Marketing is an ACTION profession. We do things even if they are the wrong things. Not so much lately. Lately we just sit on our beds staring out the window thinking about the surf.
Thinking of waves not ridden is enough to crush the spirit of a true surfer. Meeting a true surfer recently on North Carolina’s coast he said, “Yeah we surf everyday.” His life was organized to afford him the ability to do what he loved. Every marketer’s life is similarly arranged, so thinking about marketing instead of actually marketing makes us want to jump off the roof (or the pier).
Marketing needs a rallying cry, a maypole we can wrap our ideas around as our community cleans up its room, grabs its board and does what it does best – SURF. Sprint0 – The Physics of Agile Marketing a conference of about forty people held in San Francisco on Monday June 12th was the beginning of a new day for marketing and marketers.
Life as we know it has irrevocably changed. Marketing life as it will become started yesterday. Reading ScentTrail’s live blog notes from the day convey some of the particulars but little of the force bending spirit. We are ready. We want to surf again. We are bobbing in a line now, long boards waxed, wet suits on and the waves off half-moon bay at Mavericks are big enough people are watching from shore with binoculars.
As our little community sits floating in the ocean’s infinity impressed with nature’s force we see how tiny we are, how our physical presence is humbled by Mavericks’ force. We draw strength from each other and our newly aligned hearts and minds. We come now not to conquer nature but to appreciate and benefit from her. We’ve cleaned our rooms well enough to be here, we see the NEW the FREE and Agile Marketing is both. More courageous together than we could summon on our own we are ready, willing and finally able to surf again.