Written December 4, 2013

In 1883 Western Union said the telephone was not a viable product for commercial purposes. They’re defense was that emotion and personality would not cut through the technology. The truth is, they were scared.

“If Henry Ford had asked… they would have said “a faster horse”

The year before Henry Ford released the Model T, more horses were sold for the sole intent of transportation than ever before. Henry Ford solved a problem that people didn’t know they had. If Henry Ford had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said “a faster horse”.

A hundred years ago railroad was king.  They were the first choice for cross-country transportation in the USA. So they were ideally placed to take advantage of the new “flying machines”. But they didn’t. They were too focused on protecting old territory to go after anything new.

In 1995 everyone was in an uproar claiming they would NEVER put their credit card into a computer. They viewed the internet as a fad and a haven for criminals. How’s Amazon doing?

Remember when email came out? Everyone was pumped to get an e-mail. It was the future. “I’ll never send another piece of mail!” Now it’s been spammed to shit and the far majority of people choose the inbox of their preferred social media network for personal communication rather an e-mail inbox. Social Media inboxes are what they care about, email is “everything else and business.” It’s one giant spam folder.

“Banner ad click-thru rates are less than 0.01%”

There was a point where banner ads on web sites were a multi-billion dollar industry. Those little 468×60 images. Click through rates were HUGE! When was the last time you intentionally clicked on a banner ad and went and bought a product? Banner ad click-thru rates are less than 0.01% as of this minute. Now, if I’m on my cellphone and a large majority of the screen real estate is blocked by a popup, I’m going to be pissed and hate your product.

Let’s touch on “tipping point” business models for a second. Groupon, Gilt Groupe, Living Social, and any number of them out there. Remember how crazy everyone went when they could get a $100 manicure/pedicure and massage for $20? Or you could get a $50 dinner for two for $25? People went crazy. But then what happened? Groupon (the major player in this) hit everyone so hard with spam and shit they didn’t want that the culture shifted. You could be selling a $50,000 car for $50 – “NOPE! Spam. Fuck this!”

“Marketers ruin everything.”

Marketers ruin everything. Watch this video tutorial I did on how to find and engage with potential shoppers on Twitter. That is a gold mine for anyone selling anything. Unfortunately, as soon as this strategy goes mainstream marketers and people just like me (sadly) will ruin it. Someone will Tweet, “Going skiing this weekend guys!”, and within 30-seconds they’ll get spammed by 15 accounts selling ski products. It’s going to happen.

Mobile changed the game 110%. How many of you reading this, 10 years ago said, “I’ll never have a cell phone.  Why would I want anyone to reach me at all times?” And now, how many of you have your cellphone within arms reach 24/7 – even when you’re sleeping?

I challenge anyone out there on your next commute to look at your fellow drivers. I will bet that 4 out of 5 are looking at their cell phone. People aren’t looking at outside media, billboards, bus stop ads, car wraps – they aren’t even looking at the road! Yet, billboards will always be purchased by advertising executives simply for the fact that no one has ever been fired for taking out a billboard or TV commercial. It’s an easy way to spend your budget. But is it effective? Can you TRACK your ROI?

“executives are spending billions of dollars to reach the unreachable”

This trend continues over to television. In 2010 over 34% of all American homes own a DVR of some sort. That number is growing and is projected to be 50% by 2014. Think about how many people DVR nearly every program they watch. Every single one of those people will be skipping the commercials. Advertising executives are spending billions of dollars to reach the unreachable masses.

Even scarier, consider those people who are still watching live TV and let’s go back to how many of us have our cellphone within arms reach 24/7. How many people are watching commercials? Hardly any! Everyone is reaching for the cellphone, iPad, Laptop – anything – and checking their social media networks. “Oh the shows back on, okay I’ll watch now.” The numbers show that, of the people still watching TV in real time, 50% are watching with a second screen. A second screen being a cell phone, iPad, Laptop, etc.

The CEO of Neilsen, who tracks how many people are watching what networks, in 2011, stated that their ratings can be off as much as 8%. If the CEO says 8%, I can’t help but think that it’s closer to 10-12%. Putting that aside, can Neilsen tell me that Johnny didn’t get up and take a piss during the commercial break? Can they tell me Sally didn’t go microwave a bowl of popcorn? How do we know, with confidence, that commercials are even being seen?

What I’m trying to say is that businesses, big and small, are spending millions and billions of dollars to interrupt and reach an audience that can’t be reached.

The sleeping giant in all of this is that nearly 56% of all American homes own a gaming console capable of streaming internet TV.

Then print ad? Sure your magazine has a monthly circulation of 10,000 readers predominately in the 18-32 female demographic, but can you tell me if little Stephanie is going to turn to page 149 and see my ad?

“a conference room full of a bunch of old dudes”

Blockbuster sat in a conference room full of a bunch of old dudes and someone asked, “Anyone see what Netflix and Redbox are doing? Should we buy them for 20 million?” to which the winning consensus was “No, fuck them. We’re Blockbuster.” When’s the last time you went to Blockbuster to rent a movie? In its Heyday, Blockbuster had over 9,000 locations. As of November, 2013 they are liquidating the final 300 locations.

Border’s outsourced their eCommerce to Amazon. Literally, when you went to Borders.com, it redirected to Amazon.com. They refused to develop an eReader to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobles’ Nook.  They invested in CD’s when the world was going iPod. How did that work out for Border’s? They filed bankruptcy and liquidated their final 700 stores.

“Kodak wasn’t listening”

Go back in time a bit to something not necessarily a “failure”, but more a missed opportunity. Kodak. Kodak was the king of photography in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Kodak was so focused on developing the highest quality film manageable, that they failed to see their audience didn’t necessarily WANT higher quality. Of course they did. But what is more important, is that their audience wanted instant results. They wanted to see their photos now and they were willing to sacrifice quality for the instant satisfaction of seeing what they just shot. Kodak wasn’t listening. Kodak is still a player in the photography world, but if they truly cared to listen to their audience, companies like Canon, Nikon, and Samsung wouldn’t have a chance in this niche.

Guys. This is all about listening. You can not dictate culture shifts. You can not, no matter how deep your pockets are, influence the evolution of human wants, needs and desires.

“Twitter is dumb! Who cares what I’m eating?”

Let’s talk about when you first heard about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc… 7 years ago none of these networks existed, yet, it’s hard to imagine life without them. How many people said “I’ll never have a Facebook!” “Twitter is dumb! Who cares what I’m eating?” It’s because it is in human nature to default back to “What am I going to say?” Instead of marketers asking, “What can I learn about my consumers?” Everyone wanted to sell. Social media is not distribution. It is not the newspaper, it’s not radio, it’s not print. It’s a living breathing network of real humans with open lines of communication. The CEO, Founder, billionaire, they’re all a LinkedIn connection away. Social media is the biggest LISTENING platform this world has ever seen.

Innovation doesn’t care about you or I. It will continue to happen. Unless you figure out how to use it, it will run you over. I promise you that if your business doesn’t get these things figured out, if you don’t listen to your audience, if you don’t watch the world shift around, you will get put out of business. There have been much smarter people than you, with much larger businesses and much bigger checkbooks who have been put out of business in the last 10 years because they refuse to play the game like the year we are actually in.

 

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About The Author

Dallas McLaughlin

Dallas is a badged Google Partner, certified in both Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Dallas helps business owners understand how to succeed in a digital first world. Utilizing innovation and unparalleled strategy, Dallas has successfully executed hundreds of search engine optimization, social media marketing and pay-per-click advertising campaigns.

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