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The Four Forces of Change

Remember the days when our biggest challenge was the larger competitor down the street?

Today, we find ourselves facing unprecedented difficulties of unexpected scope. And unfortunately, the most potentially disruptive of these forces are bearing down on us all at once.

I call them the four forces, and they are combining in a way that will either yield incredible creative energy or sink our shareholder value. But in order to harness their energy, which is what any leader should want to do, we need to understand them. Let’s walk through each:

Rise and Fall of the CFO: For many organizations, managing costs has become a crusade and a key method for driving profits. But it is mathematically impossible for every organization to enjoy a cost advantage if competitors are approaching the problem the same way. While the cost-cutting mindset of the past 20 years has created improved earnings and corporate profitability, few companies have turned these advantages into meaningful and sustainable competitive advantage.

The Fragmentation of Media: Today, the average consumer is racking up almost twice as much TV, computer and mobile screen time as he or she did five years ago, while facing 5,000 to 10,000 brand messages every day. Yet he or she pays attention only to those messages that strike a resonant chord.

Thanks to the CFO mindset, marketing budgets have not increased proportionately to cover the expansion of media. The result: We risk not connecting with the consumer in today’s attention deficit economy.

Consumer to the Power of Ten: Social media has increased the power of word-of-mouth exponentially. It has changed the dialogue from brand-to-consumer to customer-to-community; a “trialogue,” where anyone can share rave reviews or announce a bad experience to the digital world. This means brands are being held to account for their actions and requires true authenticity in our marketing efforts.

The Capability Revolution: Thanks to advanced analytical tools, the Internet and digital media, we can now track much more consumer data and better segment and customize our offers – at dramatically improved delivery costs and turnaround. Additionally, variable content and specials can be offered live, as the customer interacts with a website or a smartphone. But few organizations have taken full advantage of the customer information they possess, which may prove to be their eventual downfall.

How do we transform these forces into positive energy for our organizations? We’ll explore that in the coming posts.

And in the meantime, I’ll offer a hint to riding the wave of change: Marketers must reclaim their influence throughout the organization by taking the lead in experience innovation.

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