Real Time


You must read “Real Time” by Regis McKenna.  It is the most boring tome I’ve ever read…except for “Inside The Third Reich”…yet it contains some of the most interesting facts available.  Getting through the book is like digging for diamonds…you’re going to have to sift through miles of rock and mud, but you’ll find some gems.

Regis McKenna is an intellect and a computer whiz…the book is published by the Harvard Business School Press.  If that’s not enough to scare you off…let me continue.

This book is about a lot of things…but mostly about how businesses will have to deal with a new set of guidelines that won’t be set up internally, but will be dictated by consumers.  This Editorial is made up of quotes and ideas taken from the book.

“Right here.  Right now.  Tailored to me.  Dished up the way I like it.  If the new consumers posted their expectations on a billboard, that’s what you would read.”  According to the data calculated by Mr. McKenna, the new age of consumers will radically alter the way we do business in the future.  In fact, it’s happening already.

In order to adjust to an ever-changing world, we must think outside the framework of our current “business as usual” outlook.  We must prepare today or be left out tomorrow.

Ed Artzt, chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble, shocked the advertising community by saying, “From where we stand today, we can’t be sure that ad-supported TV programming will have a future in the world being created…a world of video on demand, pay per view and subscription television.  Consumers will choose among hundreds of shows and pay-per-view movies…they’ll have dozens of home shopping channels…hours of interactive video games.  And for many of these…maybe most…there will be no advertising at all. If advertising is no longer needed to pay most of the cost of home entertainment, then advertisers like us will have a hard time achieving the reach and frequency we need to support our brands.”

Brand loyalty based on advertising is becoming a thing of the past.  Today’s customer wants one thing…and one thing only…service.  The new customer is never satisfied.

With all of the information at our fingertips today, the customer relies less and less on advertising as a means to choose what to purchase.  In the not-too-distant future, we will have all the information needed to make an informative choice of what to buy…and where to buy it at the cheapest price.  All of that information…from a paint brush to a car…will be available on the Internet.  Choice gives the customer power.  And choices are growing every day.

How does this relate to you?  Marketing…and your ideas of marketing must change.  You must begin to think outside the box.

PepsiCo supplies an excellent illustration of the shades of interactivity to come.  In the summer of 1996, the company offered the young consumers of its Mountain Dew soft drink electronic beepers, ordinarily priced at around $60, for $29.95 plus six moths of free air time worth $135.  For the six months of the promotion, Mountain Dew paged the 50,000 teenage and Generation X participants once a week and gave them a toll-free number to call.  Over the telephone connection, these young people could listen to interviews with heroes of so-called extreme sports, such as bungee jumping and sky surfing, that are featured in Mountain Dew’s TV commercials.  They could also learn about opportunities to win discounts and prizes from 20 companies whose buyers overlap heavily with Mountain Dew’s so-called “Dew Dudes.”

The idea was to offer customers a product to fit their lifestyle and make them part of a really cool network.  Not only did the beepers give Mountain Dew access to a segment of the consumer marketplace exceedingly difficult to reach through conventional media, but the PepsiCo marketing managers envisaged using the beepers in the future to ask customers their opinions of the product, its advertising and of possible promotions and product ideas.  They foresaw interactive communications initiated with beepers…combined with responses and suggestions made at the PepsiCo web site on the Internet…creating an enormous, nonstop electronic focus group at a remarkably low cost.

Although this marketing is unproven, it is a foreshadowing of future strategies.

The possibilities are unlimited.  But, they are also unimagined…so far.  Unless you think beyond your normal focus, these ideas of marketing and promotion will never occur to you.  This also applies to your staff.  Challenge them to come up with the unimagined.

Get ready to take a lot of heat.  Anytime you make suggestions that fall out of the norm, expect to be laughed at.  Understand that most of the time you’re dealing with the ignorant.  Those who fight hardest for the status quo are those with the smallest degree of imagination.  But you really have no choice.  If you don’t change…if you don’t evolve…you will disappear.

Only one-third of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1950 still survive today.  More  than half of the top 20 computer companies in the Unites States were not in business 20 years ago.

Today, market forces move so rapidly, and the warning signs of change are so subtle, that more often than not, we fail to see them or their effects…before it’s too late.

Unless you’re an Oldies station, don’t become a thing of the past.  Buy the book, heed some of the advice.

Instead of letting things happen to you…make things happen.

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