Richard Fouts

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Richard Fouts
Research Vice President
2 years at Gartner
23 years IT industry

Richard Fouts guides digital marketers on best practices for evaluating and deploying emerging digital marketing techniques to ensure marketers make fully informed decisions about their marketing investments. With extensive experience in brand management and marketing communications ... Read Full Bio

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Wouldn’t it be silly if we got wiped out because we weren’t looking?

by Richard Fouts  |  February 18, 2013  |  Submit a Comment

Edward Lu, (former NASA astronaut and leader of the effort to detect killer objects from outer space) asked this question the other day when discussing the need to detect serious threats from the sky. Last Friday’s explosive event over Siberia is instructive for marketers of course, who often let their companies lose share or die a slow death because they cling to value propositions that become outdated by technology. Even when technology enhances an organization’s value proposition, executives look the other way because it challenges their original thinking.

When senior managers decide it’s time to hit the reset button, they call on their strategic planners, fly off to some remote location for an emergency executive offsite, or call on expensive management consultants. While these actions present options, there are several exercises marketers can conduct regularly to ward off harmful events, or even better – leverage them to their advantage.

Your worst nightmare: What would your primary competitor do that would make your worst nightmare come true? What would any competitor do that would cause you to say,  “Why didn’t we think of that?” Brainstorm as many ideas as you can, then assess their probability of occurrence. Implement your top two or three scenarios. If you’re really brave, go be the company that represents your worst nightmare.

Gartner hype cycles: Review our hype cycle for digital marketing, or any hype cycle relevant to your industry. What would happen to your business if the technologies and techniques coming up the slope became mainstream? What new opportunities would be presented? Any threats should you starting preparing for?

Re-set:  Imagine if you were starting your company today with no baggage, no legacy, no cultural disorders. How would your product be different? Would it be larger in scope? Smaller? Would you deliver it differently? Maybe you’d substitute your direct sales force with a combination of inbound marketing, inside sales, and a handful of field reps. Maybe you’d take everything to the cloud. Create your list, then pick two of three things you can do right now.

Look back: Imagine it’s February 18, 2020.  What technologies have gone mainstream? What events have occured? The auto drive car? Speech-to-speech translation? Wide scale adoption of digitized health care records? Massive product customization?  Universities offering more degrees online? How are companies using analytics, especially those that predict?  Pick those that have the highest probability of occurring and craft a plan for how you’ll get ready for them. Think of ways you’ll take advantage of them versus being threatened by them.

What other exercises could you do?

 

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