WANTED: Editor-in-Chief: For LIFE!

I was never even mediocre at either math or arithmetic. Hence, if this fails to add up, I am completely at home with it.

So the writer who breeds more words than she needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads ” – so said Dr. Seuss.

Every year at the Oscars, the award for Best Picture gets all the fanfare( this year, of course Will Smith had other ideas). That may be stating the obvious. What might be not so obvious is in contrast, the award for film editing flies under the radar. But you may be surprised by the correlation between these two awards.
Since 1981, only three films have won “Best Picture” without also being nominated for “Best Film Editing”.
Why is editing so crucial in filmmaking?
A good film editor removes distractions by eliminating trivial or irrelevant things. She uses deliberate subtraction to add life to the ideas, setting, plot, and characters.
The best films are exceptional not because of what we see but because of what we don’t see.
We can draw parallels here. And use the same principles to edit our own lives. We might be from Mars or Venus but on Mother Earth our never ending to-do list need not be a perennial match for our Herculean, Machiavellian competence and calibre that we seem to have been willy nilly blessed(cursed?) with. Probably there is a space to begin by ‘ separating the vital few from the trivial many ‘. The over ignored practice of essentialism.
Mind you, this is no easy task. To distill and rein in our incorrigibly elastic task list. How will we answer our ego? Or camouflage our insecurities? We find comfort in “keeping our options open”. But having too many options leaves us without direction. Having a few focused options gives our life a clear direction and makes decision-making easier.
Eventually, every cut ​we​ make brings joy. Maybe not in the moment, but soon ​we​ will realize the time ​we have​ gained can now be spent on something better.
​We, as people, ​systematically overlook subtractive changes, instead following ​our​ instincts to add. There is nothing inherently wrong with adding. But if it becomes a default path to improvement, that may be failing to consider a whole class of other opportunities​.
The paltry rate of subtraction in our ​life or ​organizational-improvement​ journey is appalling.​ To improve a redundant piece of writing, few produce an edit with fewer words. To improve a jam-packed travel itinerary, ​we hardly remove events or places to​ allow ​us​ to savor the ones that remained. To improve a Lego structure, ​we hardly take​ pieces away. Whether ​we​ ​a​re changing ideas, situations, or objects, the dominant tendency ​i​​s to do so by adding.
​In an increasingly attention starved​, attention craving economy, subtraction ​h​as a ​noticeability ​​​p​roblem​. When we add things, apparently it gets noticed. But when we subtract..we seem to miss the point.
Life has a way of taking over. We start running on auto-pilot especially when we are overwhelmed, in over our heads, or simply worn out from all that life is throwing our way. And this year, life is throwing more than ever our way.
After a while of trying to keep all the balls in the air, we stop paying attention and simply start reacting. Amidst all the chaos, we know something has to change, but we don’t know what or how.
When was the last time ‘ nurturing our heart and soul ‘ was part of our to-do list? It hardly make​s​ the list of things to take care of during the day. If ​we​ prioritize the nurturing of our heart and soul, by taking time to listen to what they want, by engaging in soul-soothing activities and by using them to guide our actions, ​we​ ​can​ get our life back. ​We​’ll remember who ​we​ are​(otherwise in the stage called life​,​ we are all practicing ‘ selective amnesia ‘)​ and begin to attract people and projects that are a perfect fit for the real ​us​.
S​o what is the take away? ​Yes, you guessed it, take away, to make way!
BEGINS

Die Empty!

Caveat Empty..sorry Caveat Emptor: The caption of this piece is inspired by Todd Henry‘s seminal book of the same name.

Look no further. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. No, I am dead serious. And it is a matter of grave concern.

“ The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”- so said Les Brown. And what a telling commentary that is on the ‘ ground reality ‘ .

Most of us live with the stubborn idea that we’ll always have tomorrow. But sooner or later all of our tomorrows will run out. It is finite.

We have: One life to live. One life to die. One life to learn and practice what you have learnt. One life to learn multiple skills, arts, hobbies, sports…multiple professions. One life to experience joy in what you perform. One life to share, give, pass on, teach and donate so that you die empty but Rich every which way.

Look within. Let’s define it as WINtrospect(there is no such word in the dictionary, yet). There is a gold mine waiting to be explored. But, all that we seem to do is exchange ourselves for fear to trade on a silver platter. So busy short changing ourselves. As they say, ‘ ideas are plenty but ideas without action are regrets ‘. No need to die before we die. That is called living empty. If power dynamics were to come into play, go empty to the graveyard. Prepare to disappoint it.

Eckhart Tolle has beautifully articulated that the ‘ present is a present ‘ in his book, The Power of Now.

Could have‘, ‘might have‘, and ‘should have‘ must be classified in the ‘Must Not Have‘ category of life. So, instead of being afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin. No calendar is going to tell you when to live your life. The  greatest loss is not from rejections and failures, but comes from what dies within us while we live.

Discovering your voice is rarely a linear path, but instead is the culmination of a lifelong process of observation, course correction, and risk-taking that eventually leads to the recognition of a valuable contribution.

You came to the earth with loads of inspiration and influence. Dare to offload them out of you before you die. Give out all you carry along into the world and when you are ready to go back, go empty handed!

So, do what lights you up! Day in, day out.

ENDS

The unimportance of practically everything..

Burnout is not a badge of honour. And for all of us testosterone spewing Type A+ tribes out to give Hercules an inferiority complex, the red flag is out..
Relaxation is both an individual and collective responsibility.
Rest is NOT idleness. Rest is NOT a four letter word.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. Rest assured!
Empty days are important. It is important not to ‘expect’ to produce or do anything..
A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Certainly NOT so!
The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, be..
And, if you are seeking five star validation, take inspiration from the 5 Star TV ad that says ‘ Do Nothing ‘.
Awareness is often enough to motivate change.
When was the last time you experienced the changing light of a room as we robotically laboured from dusk to dawn?
All the rest…best!
RIP: Rest Is Peace!
No photo description available.

ADVerbatim: Some micro and macro outlooks

The caption of this article is a bit of soft pedaling. I am quite uncomfortable with the word ‘ trends ‘ because it is in more ways than one camouflaging what is called ‘ herd mentality ‘ which leads to the inevitable SOS(Sea of Sameness). And in an increasingly commoditized world, you may be birds of the same feather, but..flocking together ??
Amidst the tempest of pandemic driven uncertainty and disorientation, here’s a crystal ball gaze at some obvious and not so obvious landscapes that the advertising industry could be witness to in the coming months.
– The biggest boycott in history to continue- I am referring to ad blocking– with over 600 million devices in its universe and growing, the wake up alarm has long been sounded for brands, agencies and advertisers. According to Hootsuite, the UAE has close to 40% of ad blocking( countries like Indonesia, India are at over 50%). Research states that one of the primary reasons for ad blocking is too many ads that are irrelevant, annoying and have nothing to do with creativity. Creativity is future proof and the sooner brand guardians get re-sensitized to that, in a pull and engage scenario(as against the widely practiced push and control), the better.
– Unless something dramatic happens, online programmatic advertising is writing its own obituary. Advertisers are being abused blind by adtech ferrets. Research from Media Post concludes that out of the US$200 billion global spend, 70% of advertising dollars spent on online programmatic advertising never touch a human being. In effect, $140 billion disappears in “ad fees, fraud, non-viewable impressions, non-brand-safe placements, and unknown allocations” (by “unknown allocations” you can read “shit that no one can figure out”).
 
– The pandemic brought first-time advertisers to many platforms, especially OOH and DOOH, 2022 will be no different. New categories like Fintech, NFTs, Crypto (with their supporting companies), and Online/E SportsWellbeing,EdTech, FoodTech categories will continue to flourish. After the dash for Expo 2020 attention, big opportunities will come to the fore for advertisers courtesy the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
– Advertisers and marketers will need to be as nimble as consumers. The pandemic not only accelerated omnichannel retail but also created hybrid behaviours beyond how we shop. From a mix of virtual and in-person fitness to IRL experiences with digital extensions, how we work, play and live is fluid and consumers expect brands to keep up with the rapid pace. For marketers, that means mapping every consumer touchpoint and applying a collection of insights – location, identity, cross-device, in-person, in-stream, etc. – to creative concepts that earn consumers’ attention while respecting privacyThe agility of marketers to behave as nimbly as consumers will translate into brand loyalty in a rapidly growing hybrid world.
– A largely ignored, under served imperative will come to the fore for marketers and advertisers- Building company culture: The industry never had attrition rates as high as it had in 2021, and we’ve never had as many remote employees either. The Great Resignation continues unabated. Last year, the better organisations focused on retention and put a hyper-focus on recognition. Without in-person interactivity, you have to be so deliberate about your culture, especially during remote work. In the coming times, brands and businesses will put a lot of focus on how they create a culture of retention, diversity and recognition. Creativity will have to make a serious comeback.
 
– For better or for(commerce)verse- Last year we saw a continued acceleration of social with e commerce and sowing of the seeds of ‘ community commerce ‘ glued together by community, creators, shopping and entertainment like never before. In 2022, we’ll see social commerce give way to the “commerceverse” as people begin to move from entertainment to purchase. And as consumers look to build out their environment with virtual goods and experiences, brands will have the opportunity to connect with consumers in a surround-sound way.
 
– Agency In-Housing: The in-housing trend at brands will not go away, but it is in reverse — to a point. Turns out, it’s too expensive, too complicated and too political for many brands to do at any real scale. Especially when so many businesses are trying to wrangle costs, not inflate them, during a global economic downturn. The pandemic’s knock on the economy forced many marketers to live hand-to-mouth and the flexibility offered by agencies proved to be critical to survival.
– Artificial Intelligence will find a greater say in services like copywriting and content generation– especially with tools like GPT 3(Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) -an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. It helps instantly generate high quality copy for Email, Ads, Websites, Listings, Blogs & More. Save Time And Money Writing Clever, Original Content And End Writer’s Block Forever is the pitch.
 
– One should have heeded this as a premonition- sometime back the Meaningful Brands study conducted by Havas told us that most people would not care if 74% of all brands disappeared for goodHow can brands bridge the gap between apathy and action, particularly with that all-important millennial audience – the biggest generation and the leaders of tomorrow as we collectively take responsibility for getting closer to the UN SDG(Sustainable Development Goals).If we want to change the world, we all have to be involved. All people, of all ages, every brand, no exceptions. Bridging that gap means recognising that brands can be citizens too, with a responsibility to promote, share, create exposure and help to make change. Most importantly, brands can help people to connect to a political process that will make an impact on the world they live in – and that their children will inherit – to act as citizens themselves and not simply as consumers. That is a brand’s role as a citizen – to help consumers be citizens too.
 
To quote Woody Allen, ” 80% of success is just showing up “. There is no better time to create a bright future.
 
– Playing it by earWhile our eyes may be ‘maxxed’ after more than a year of relentless screen time, our ears have bandwidth. Our ears are more reliable curators, opting for human connection and unscripted conversations that podcasts and radio provide. A recent WARC Lion’s Intelligence study showed consumers now spend a third of their media time with audio, but most brands spend less than 10% of their media budget with audio. There is no question brands need to right-size their audio investment. But, getting beyond the spreadsheet and learning how to create a real human conversation with the consumer is the secret to winning with audio. Here’s to more conversations about how brands can get heard and get growth with audio in 2022.
 
– This is how the cookie crumbles:The impending demise of third-party cookies has drastically altered the digital advertising world while simultaneously highlighting how vital first-party data is and will be into the future. For now, first-party and third-party data will continue to exist, and advertisers can maximise this opportunity to run various experiments to ensure they are ready for when third-party cookies are no longer a source of targeting data. Brands that embrace first-party data, contextual advertising, and other third-party data alternatives today will be the industry leaders tomorrow.
– RIP to RFP? : The RFP(Request for Proposal) bandwagon indulged in by enterprises from agencies to extract the cheapest possible price for their services. This comes with scant regard to competence, expertise, empirical evidence and worse who contributes the original idea which is now happily being sacrificed at the ‘ cheapest pricing altar ‘. And we are all aware that ‘ insider trading ‘ is not just restricted to the stock market. Time to cremate this archaic, merit agnostic practice.
 
– Measurement will be back as the next frontier in 2022 — fueled by the unprecedented rise of CTV, the uncertain future of cookies and identity transactions in digital, and the disruption of Nielsen ratings. As we build for an ever-interconnected digital future, the ‘measurement reset’ is an opportunity to build the relationships between consumers, content creators, publishers and their advertising partners.
 
– Meta will emerge as part of brand experience and communication conversations and NFTs(Non Fungible Tokens) will begin to come into the brand ecosphere but we are still some time away from these becoming right, front and centre.
 
I remain conscious of brevity and hence would come to a halt here though there are quite a few more that I would have liked to list as we telescope into the emerging future of the advertising and marketing industry. Maybe in a separate piece.
 
ENDS
Suresh Dinakaran – Chief Storyteller at ISD ISD Global, a Dubai based branding and ideas hotshop and the Managing Editor of BrandKnew, a multifaceted media asset, published across print, digital and web versions.

Responsibility bias

Every right has its responsibilities
People who do things without being told draw the most wages. Yes!
 
Responsibility is proportional to opportunity.
 
“I’ve got this,” is a phrase that some people will go out of their way to avoid saying. 
 
At work, where it’s incredibly valuable, or in personal relationships, where it creates deep connection.
 
What is your responsibility preference?
 
When things go wrong, is your instinct to hide in a corner and hope you won’t get noticed – or to lean into the situation and make it clear that this one is on you?
 
Like our control preference, responsibility is a learned skill
 
You might be born with an instinct for it, but mostly it’s something we’re taught or choose to learn.
 
There is work to be done. Responsibilities to be met.
 
bias toward taking responsibility is one of the most important things to look for when hiring an employee, finding a doctor, appointing a CEO, building a team or making that next dent in the universe.
Humanity needs the ability of every woman and man.
We are not put here on earth to play around. Out of responsibility comes possibility.
And we can all be possibilitarians!

What was ‘Cooking ‘ at Apple the past decade?

What is Tim Cook’s Secret Sauce?

There will be case studies, books, documentaries about Apple under Tim Cook, but right now inspired by a sharp piece in FT that points out what Cook did with Apple. The piece by Patrick McGee quotes Dan Wang, professor of business at Columbia University.

“[Steve] Jobs had an amazing run, he says, but his focus on products meant revenues were inherently volatile, like that of a fashion company. ‘If you can predict next year’s consumer tastes, then you enjoy all the riches—it’s winner takes all,’ he says. ‘But if you get it wrong, you bear that cost. And what Tim Cook did well is to take Apple out of this cycle of having to search for a new hit product every time’…

“Two major products have emerged in Cook’s first decade, AirPods and the Apple Watch—big successes with market shares of 25% and 31%, respectively. But the services division has proved far more significant. Last year it delivered nearly $70bn in revenue—roughly double that of the Mac, iPad or wearables divisions—and margins were 70%.

“During his time at the helm, Apple’s annual revenues have ballooned from $108bn in the year he took over to $365bn in 2021. Net profits have grown 3.7 times, from $26bn to $95bn.



“But more significant is how Cook has built a services juggernaut to eke out every penny of the Apple ecosystem, garnering a steady stream of recurring revenues from App Store fees and nearly 800m customers paying for digital media that expanded during his tenure. That substantially reduced Apple’s dependence on the iPhone—and propelled the company’s share price to a level where its price-to-earnings ratio is now three times higher than what it was a decade ago.”

You can dig deeper in the FT article titled Apple at $3tn: the enigma of Tim Cook

ENDS

The incredible power of AWEssibilities!

Dear Us:

It is an annual ritual to glance over time’s shoulder each year and reflect on what has made it most livable and worthy of living — always the clearest mirror of what irradiated and perturbed our hearts and minds as our uncommon planet made its steady revolution around its common star.

Inevitably, patterns emerge that were not obvious in the moment-by-moment experience. Inevitably, those patterns reveal that however tumultuous the ‘ seasons of being ‘ might feel — and what a tempest of uncertainty and disorientation 2021 has been for all of us in the world, the things that make life most luminous with aliveness are variations on eternal themes, impervious to our passing perturbations.

Here’s to the stubborn symphony of aliveness, the immense power of gratitude, the significant strength of collective hope and the power of incredible AWEssibilities for a wonderful 2022 to you & yours.

Stoically always

 

Pierce The Future Through The Present

There is no greater fear than the fear of the unknown. Strategic foresight and future thinking exist to help tame the imaginary line connecting now and thenCompetence alone is not enough; character and perspective are also required in equal doses. This means that working with the future needs a lot more than hype cycle analyses and predictions about the future of this and that from self-anointed guru-ninja-hackers without any proper training in foresight. Developing strong characters is fundamental to ensuring an ethos of good ancestry

Practising future-back management is critical to enabling breakthrough innovation and leapfrogs when the road ahead seems rather foggy.

Nurturing a sense of perspective becomes the antidote from getting stuck in antiquated ways of working, thinking and behaving. Marketing’s new research and developments can indeed be quite distracting given their high frequency and volume. In trying to make sense of the new and generate brand buzz from it, marketers end up missing out on rather transformational opportunities – those where the future can be more evenly distributed.

This is rather disconcerting since marketers are often some of the most well-rounded and best-informed professionals in their organisations, with a sharp sense of ‘what’s next’. Still, many get caught by the glitz of the novel, instead of putting their energy in the grittiness of the foresight process.

In fact, when it comes to crystalising the definition of the 21st century marketer, Google conducted an experiment that involved interviewing 30 board members from Fortune 1000 companies, having accumulated more than 1300 minutes of audio and over 100,000 words about the role of the CMO (Think with Google 2020), which was then summarised in one long, important paragraph:

“The 21st century CMO is expected to be a marketing miracle worker, an alchemist who combines classic art of branding with the latest advances in data and measurement. All this while you serve as the connective tissue of the C-suite and stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing landscape of digital technology, cultural trends and shifting consumer expectations – things becoming ever more important to the stock price. Customers matter more than ever and, since you’re responsible for them, your role should matter more than ever too. But board members do not seem to have one cohesive definition of the role. 

So, what are you to do?

Internally, steer expectations for your role by defining growth, you have some control over. And recognise that the talent of your team is half the battle to achieving that growth. Hire the best measurement people, because marketing will be held to some metric that is currently beyond reach, and you’ll need them to invent it. There are many ways you can impact revenue – but be prepared to show the ‘I’m indispensable’ maths. And do not forget the most visible CMOs also take big risks. Only three percent of board members interviewed were marketers. Likely, they do not hear you. Listen closely and find the overlap between what the board is interested in and your responsibilities. And, instead of building slides about everything you do, build one slide that puts you in a position to start a conversation around those common interests and goals.”

What is interesting to note is that futures thinking is all over in the paragraph above and yet, nowhere on it. As haiku-esque as a statement, this is the closest to the truth. Strategic foresight and futures thinking are not explicitly mentioned, but implicitly dominate the subtext, with clear emphasis on character, competence and perspective too. Therefore, the opportunity is to nurture the Phewturecast seed, and develop the gravitas required for marketers and their peers to encourage and normalise the allocation of foresight investment. If education is key to opening more doors for foresight, appropriate use of language is the red carpet welcoming the long-awaited guests that can help reshape the future for the better.

For the ambitious marketers out there, this is just the beginning of your futures literacy. Use it and pierce the future through the present. 

BEGINS

https://www.groupisd.com/story/

https://www.brandknewmag.com/

https://www.brandknew.groupisd.com/

https://hackcellencefest.com/

https://www.weeklileaks.com/

 

 

The future is plural, unpredictable and rarely a linear path from the present!

Vision: the ability to “think about or plan for the future, using intelligence and imagination”, an “idea or hope of how something should be done, or how it will be in the future” and simply the “ability to see”- MacMillan Dictionary.

The pandemic has taught that foreseeing can be more useful than forecasting. Hindsight is literally 2020 and as for 2021… Well, you have a choice to make: be a hapless passenger relinquishing responsibility for your emotions, feelings and outcomes to other people or choose to be a leader every single day, making a positive impact on those around you and taking accountability in every moment for your own beliefs and actions.

Easier said than done. Confusion and decision paralysis permeate most marketing departments, agencies and publishers – all carefully threading reality, with a little help from the past. But, as we now know, using the past to project the future is a fallacy. The psychological biases binding us to the present and blinding us from the future.

Bounded rationality: challenges the notion of human rationality as implied by the concept of homo economicus. Rationality is bounded because there are limits to our thinking capacity, available information and time.

Hyperbolic discounting: refers to the tendency for people to increasingly choose a smaller-sooner reward over a larger-later reward as the delay occurs sooner rather than later in time.

Availability bias: the human tendency to think that examples of things that come readily to mind are more representative than is actually the case, hampering critical thinking and, as a result, the validity of our decisions.

The present-forward fallacy: the seductive notion that an existing business can be extended out in time indefinitely by continuously making improvements to it. Read more in my post on this at https://www.sureshdinakaran.com/blog/?s=future+back

Tyranny of the urgent: an analysis of the calendars of 27 CEOs over a full quarter showed that, on average, they had 37 meetings per week, which took up to 72 percent of their time. Is it any wonder they have so little time to imagine a better future? 

The bridge linking ‘what is’ with ‘what could be’ is intention. Therefore, rather than strategizing on ‘how to better play today’s game’, the big question for brands and organizations becomes ‘what is the game we intend to play to prosper tomorrow?’ 

Ultimately, it is about having the courage to pave a way that others have not dared to take before. Into the future, and through the predicted challenges of the next few years, great leadership will be our only salvation. The good news is that we all have the ability to be great leaders if we allow true character to overtake the fear and insecurity that form the veneer of our professional personas.

‘What are you on the planet to do and what legacy will you leave?’ This direction comes from a firm belief that our industry influences the minds of every citizen of the planet, with the means to influence other people’s choices, decisions, beliefs and behaviours. It has the power to influence political outcomes, corporate success or failure, and galvanise people behind causes of any kind. Therefore, the talent within marketing, media and advertising are in the ‘leadership’ business with an unsurpassed privilege that is not to be underestimated. This kind of power has the potential to be harmful unless wielded with the ‘right’ moral intent, finely tuned capability, deep wisdom, and ethical awareness.

I firmly hold the belief that every person is born a potential leader, hardwired to rely both psychologically and physiologically on other human beings. Born sociable, no baby is a loner. We are not born haters – or racist, homophobic or misogynistic. No, we’re all born leaders – with the ability to influence those around us. Who doesn’t automatically smile at a smiling baby? Or laugh when you hear them giggle? That’s influence, right there.

Listen More, Listen Better.

The sheer volume of data and insight at marketers’ fingertips is a formidable thing. Marketers can hold a customer’s heartbeat in the palm of their hand and have the ability to foresee when their blood pressure is going up or down. But only if we listen. And who was ever taught how to listen ? Since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press our ears have been replaced by our eyes, an oral culture of shared stories has been taken over by a visual culture of representative images.

We’re all really good at paying ‘ear service’ (the art of being seen to listen, while simultaneously reading an email, sending a text and thinking about next door’s cat) and then choosing to hear only the things that fit our own narrative (which we are extremely skilled at listening to). If you don’t seek to truly hear what is being said right now, then you’ll fill the gaps based on your own past experiences and patterns from which you’ll create future expectations predicated on your almost subconscious assumptions. This is the opposite of good leadership. 

Don’t focus on what you can get; Focus only on what you can give.

Well, here is the real truth. We can’t control what we get. We only have control over what we give. Great leaders are exhausted every day, not because of how hard they’ve worked but because of how much they’ve given.”

It sounds easy, and it is, but only if you consciously let go of the notion that you are in any way in control of what you get from others.

How many of us want to get more business from our clients, the next promotion, more discounts from our suppliers, more output from our teams, more love from our partners and more joy in our lives? We are apt to think about what we want to get and, if we don’t, we feel frustrated, disempowered, resentful… and then put the blame for those feelings directly on others.

Change the way you think to: what can I give my team to enable them to deliver their goals? How can I support my boss in a way that may make their job a little easier? What can I give to my clients to ensure that they can succeed? What can I do for my suppliers to make it easier for them to manage our relationship? What actions can I take to ensure those I love feel that love every single day? What can I give to the people around me to bring a little joy into their lives today? Because you have 100 percent control over what you give.

The key, therefore, is to learn to rejoice in being and leading uncomfortably. That’s when great leadership becomes the mechanism to transform countries, businesses and people.

Future back is a competence that can be developed by first crafting a vision and then threading it back to the present. 

Visioning, in a business context, is about having a clear worldview on the markets of the future and the role that your organisation can play in that new and different world. Having a really powerful vision can unleash the potential to transform whole industries. When we call a business leader a visionary, we mean they have a vivid understanding of their organisation’s best possible future – one that can potentially transform whole industries. Vision is the ‘what’ not the ‘how’. Vision is made actionable through strategy, which is the means to achieve it.

ENDS

 

 

 

The future is an asset, not a guess!

A crystal ball gazing into what marketers and marketing should/could be doing in the coming times!
 
The future is an asset, not a guess. As such, using it rather than predicting it, is the only way to create the conditions for a tomorrow that is better than today.
 
Few industries will have more predictions or “future of” reports than marketing. After all, it’s in our best interest to be a step ahead of the consumer. However, rather than prediction, intention is what has enabled the creation of strong global brands, remarkable campaigns, game changing products and services and thriving economies.
 
Marketing can no longer be taught, investigated, and practiced as confined to transactions between buyers and sellers, but needs to be reconsidered as deeply embedded within society and our living world.
 
Critically, though, this is perhaps the perfect stage and time – an open invitation for marketers to stop viewing themselves and their trade as economists do. As preached by ad legend Rory Sutherland, “My definition of marketing is simply the science of knowing what economists are wrong about. The human mind does not run on logic any more than a horse runs on petrol.” Perhaps, rather than chasing more universal laws of marketing, and what Sutherland calls ‘measurebation’, why not chase the exceptions that bring exponential success? And why not use that to help shift a business culture focused on short-term advantage, obsessed with money and uninterested on much else?
 
Particularly when, as explained by Sutherland in an exclusive master class for The Marketing Academy,“ “Marketing could be viewed as the most determining factor for social progress – not just in terms of changing our buying habits, but also in transforming our values system.”
 
Well… so what? A typical career lasts for 80,000 hours; so if you can make your career just one percent better, then in theory it would be worth spending up to 800 hours working out how to do just that. The past holds the patterns, the present is blurred, but the future is from where such exceptions can be seeded and harvested. Dr Toby Ord, a Philosophy Fellow at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, frames the point in a rather compelling way: “Of all the people whose wellbeing we should care about, only a small fraction are alive today. The rest are members of future generations who are yet to exist. Whether they’ll be born into a world that is flourishing or disintegrating – and indeed, whether they will ever be born at all – is in large part up to us.”
 
This conclusion holds true regardless of whether your moral framework is based on common sense, consequences, rules of ethical conduct, cooperating with others, virtuousness, keeping options open or just a sense of wonder about the universe in which we find ourselves. Regardless of your personal stance, this is an opportunity for a sound investment of your time. Now and then.
 
“We know how marketing works, but do we know what we want it to work for? Profit is the default worldview. Prosperity is the renegade counterpart. Why not both?”
 
Why not embrace ambiguity, apply genuine foresight and rigorously imagine possible scenarios where marketing’s effectiveness can be considered in novel and holistic ways?
 
THE POST-COVID POSSIBLE SCENARIOS 
 
By all accounts, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak was not an unpredictable ‘Black Swan’, since many working in the emerging infectious diseases field provided several indications of its possibility. What is hard to predict, yet possible to project, is what may happen after this. The challenge of a global response is that there are multiple world views operating, all with different interests. Thus, predicting what the future may hold is pointless. But projecting alternative scenarios, preparing for potential risks and setting a course of action that helps actualize a desired future is a valuable lesson that futures studies can provide.
 
We need to stop talking in terms of the ‘new normal’. Please!!! What we are currently facing is a set of circumstances that have changed our environment. To what extent and for how long is unknown. This will again depend on your industry, your target audience and your ability to pave the road forward as opposed to waiting a return. How? Marketing’s ‘4Ps’ can be a good indicator. Move on from planned obsolescence to products that last longer or, even better, regenerate. From a burnout workforce to one that better integrates life and work. From the cumbersome commute and costly square metres to ubiquitous mobility and commerce convenience. From low prices funded by cheap labour to competitive prices enabled by smarter supply chains and business models.
 
What we have seen more than anything else is incredible adaptability, agility and versatility, none more so than within our small business community. If you weren’t digital before, you certainly are now. Again, every marketer needs to arm themselves with skills and pivoting abilities, rather than grand strategies and we could all learn something from SMBs. In this (as in any time of change) we need to focus on what we need to learn, NOT on what we already know. How do we use data to learn more, improve outcomes and make sure we are resonating with our consumers?
 
This time has also given us the opportunity to press the reset button. Change is not new to marketing. COVID-induced change across industries and economies has forced simultaneous change for all marketers and tested their adaptability. It’s on a bigger scale but not totally new. We have been forced to forensically look at ourselves, our budgets, the environment in which we are operating and, ultimately, our consumer. This has forced optimisation through digital, collaboration, through necessity and working in a much more agile manner. We may now expect some positive outcomes, like grit to NOT return to a normal that only partially served us.
 
The strength of a society is based on how we treat the weakest, not how we glorify the strongest. Young people are no longer the future, but the present. 
 
This is the disruption that truly creates the fourth industrial revolution. Along with external innovation, there is inner innovation – a social revolution. Evidence-based science and technology inform public policy, not the whims of particular leaders. The insights from fighting COVID-19 are applied to climate change. There is a dramatic shift to plant-based diets. It is business transformed, social mutation, not back to usual. There are, however, concerns about privacy. COVID has accelerated tech adoption. Any brand that is still wrestling with ‘digital transformation’ will likely be struggling to keep up. It is wrong to think digital doesn’t incorporate creativity, just as it is wrong to think creativity has nothing to do with data. It’s both and, the sweet fruit of this marriage could mean the rise of sentient marketing. In this new reality, brands proactively take action to avoid errors, sensing adversity and remaining alert to micro-trends and opportunities in its environment. The sentient enterprise is frictionless and truly unified by its brand’s strategy – for real, not just as a model on the paper. Like many actions that the brain executes, the sentient enterprise listens to data and makes autonomous, real-time decisions without requiring a human’s conscious intervention.
 
Predictive marketing should absolutely be embraced but, as with all technology, success will be driven by more than just profit. Empathy, connection and responsibility, combined with value delivery, may become the new metrics assessed by brand trackers. Without delivering this, brands will quickly lose meaning and the ability to command price premiums and, ultimately, will commoditise.
 
For now, consumers are searching for brands that help them make good choices that support the well-being for all – planet, people and the economy. Brands able to demonstrably track progress across the triple bottom line will move away from niche indexes reporting on ‘green brands’ and become the new gold standard for the more mainstream ‘best brands’ reports.
 
Another (not so optimistic) scenario is that of a great despair looming large-  Not an apocalypse, not a depression, no magic- just a slow and marked decline of health and wealth. Walls appear everywhere. The World Health Organisation and others try to contain it, but the virus repeatedly slips in and infects the bodies, minds and hearts of all. We are back to the Middle Ages. The efforts to address fail. The least connected to globalisation fare the best. The vulnerable are forgotten. Intergenerational memory of past pandemics informs reality. 
 
As marketers, do we have enough influence to impact this scenario? This often depends so deeply on political and economic inputs that are beyond our control. However, as an industry we are overwhelmingly one of optimism, action and awareness. Adopting a Future Back strategy(something that we practice at ISD Global( https://bit.ly/3oCwAZD) is a manifestation of marketers’ ability to foresee this and disrupt inertia or apathy. There are many steps between here and there. Marketing doesn’t only have to be to ‘sell’ products and services. It can equally persuade and inform decisions about health choices, protecting the vulnerable, combating mental health deterioration and lessening the height of any ‘walls’. As a part of society, marketers would be part of the effort to resist the described decline. A few of us have already started.
 
A systemic view of what marketing effectiveness is, and can be, needs to be supported by data, insights, technology, media ecosystems and the power of brand. Proficiency is part of the solution and posturing part of the problem.
 
Above all, we have the unique opportunity to address the claim from the most important marketing theorist of the 20th century, Wroe Wilson, who said that, “What is needed is not an interpretation of the utility created by marketing, but a marketing interpretation of the whole process of creating utility.”
For the 21st century, all marketers can make an honest attempt at doing just that. If we succeed, we can expect to ignite a journey to a desired future.
If we fail…