In January 1993, I began preaching the Gospel of Change – its management and architecture.
One of my first presentations was to a very successful community bank’s senior management team. I said, “Today, General Motors, Sears and IBM are kings of their respective jungles. I believe in my lifetime (I was 46 at the time) one of these companies will go bankrupt!” The audience rolled their collective eyes! In 16 years, I was vindicated.
GM filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the Manhattan New York federal bankruptcy court on June 1, 2009. The filing reported $82.29 billion in assets and $172.81 billion in debt.
Then, Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 15, 2018, with $6.9 billion of assets and $11.3 billion of debts, after a decade-plus as a train wreck in slow motion.
See also: How to Earn Consumers’ Trust
Today, I’m not going to scare you into change – I’ll merely shine a spot light on the changes that are already occurring in the world and you decide if these innovations are friends or foes. Don’t ask what threats these changes mean for you. Ask instead what these changes mean to the marketplace – to each of us as consumers. The consumer is king, and now consumers shop in a global marketplace – when, where and how they want. Below are five transformational changes that are affecting the world for your clients and you–and a word of hope.
Generational Change: Many of us grew up in a “Father Knows Best” world. Today, the universe is more similar to a “Modern Family.”
Look at the demographics. The youngest members of the Greatest or Silent generation are nearing 75. The youngest members of the Baby Boomers are in their mid-50s. The youngest Gen Xers are in their mid-30s. And the youngest millennials are already 15.
As Paul Harvey said often, “We’re not one world.” He was so right. In terms of marketing reality – One size does not fit all.
Big Data and Artificial Intelligence: Yesterday, I opened an e-mail offering me a “deal” on a new Toyota. Within an hour, I had received similar e-mails from most other brands that I might be interested in. Big Brother (or Big Sister) is watching everything we do. Now, sophisticated sellers can anticipate your needs and be first to market with a solution for each need. Can you do this?
Global Marketplace/Virtual Marketplace: As a consumer, you can buy anything you want, wherever you want. As a seller, your competitors are not down the street – they are everywhere.
Language/Diversity: Robert Young as Jim Anderson in “Father Knows Best” was an insurance agent and also an OWGIC (Old White Guy in Charge). Today, ours is a much more diverse and multilingual world. Everyone can be in charge of their own world. Do you speak enough languages to serve this marketplace? Who is/will be your marketplace (Hispanic, Laotian, Muslim, etc.)? Remember that many “youn-‘uns” communicate very differently. If you don’t believe me, call a teen and see she answers. Text, and she will.
Innovation of Products/Services/Competitors: What, where and how you sell has no meaning. What, where and how people buy is all that matters. Remember social media, robotic surgery, driverless cars, Amazon, Expedia, Uber, Google, AirBnB: Innovations change options and in some cases bankrupt organizations and industries that are fat, dumb and happy.
See also: Why More Don’t Go Direct-to-Consumer
John Naisbitt developed the concept of high tech, high touch in his 1982 bestseller “Megatrends.” He theorized that, in a world of technology, people long for personal, human contact.
He was so right. Become client-defined and client-driven. Develop client intimacy. Be engaged with the people and markets you serve. Don’t sell them; facilitate their buying. Be a concierge, a friend, a shoulder to cry on and voice of encouragement. Build intimacy – be a professional, expert, trusted resource.