The season for empty promises and meaningless predictions

It seems words like “hope”, “change”, “renewal” help us to detach our actions from their inevitable consequences, at least in our own minds. At the turn of the New Year  we habitually make ourselves (and others) insincere promises to change, to start working out, to start learning languages or skills, to lose or gain weight, etc. We also like to make predictions nobody takes very seriously or calls us on.

Here is an example predicting the Death of Marketing

Gone are the days when marketers could carefully craft messaging and then broadcast that message in a few channels to huge portions of their audiences.  Oh, you can still spend money that way if you want to but in our transparent world, no marketing budget can possibly overcome the actual experience consumers have (and share with friends, followers and Google) with the product, service, or organization.  It no longer matters what you say;  in 2010, your brand will be more defined by what you do and who you are!

I wish Augie Ray, the author of this prediction and a new Forrester analyst, was right, but we both know that he is not. I am hoping that we will see consumers re-gain their power of choice and intelligent, rational selection and I believe that it has already started happening as reported by many observers. Here is an example from the Gerson Lehman Group quoting a McKinsey report:

“Two-thirds of the touch points during the active-evaluation phase involve consumer-driven activities such as Internet reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family” .

I just don’t believe that “it” will happen in 2010, primarily because the fundamental change is not an event, it is a process. A process that takes time and a lot of education as too many consumers have willfully relegated their power of choice and are more comfortable to see themselves as victims. Here is an example of a discussion “Does your Company’s Reputation Really Matter?” that illustrates my point:

Perhaps things will change if capitalism develops into a more socially equable system, or a new form of leadership evolves for the 21st century. In the meantime, what do you think? Is reputation still something to be valued and maintained? Does it really count for anything? And how do we ensure that our voices — customers, citizens, taxpayers — are heard amid the deafening noise of spin?

It is interesting to see a victim-hood mentality spilling over from Harvard Business Review by a “Leadership Coach”. I suppose if you don’t believe you have the power – you do not have it.

All the moaning, blaming everything in sight and somehow hoping for a better outcome, meanwhile continuing our patronage of those who don’t deserve it, is not going to bring any change for the better.

I rather do without many things I deem to be necessary – many are not. I stopped buying products that do not deserve high regard from customers who experienced them. I’d rather be without or pay more for quality if it is available. I have enough headaches, thank you very much. I stopped flying anywhere I can drive within a reasonable time, and I do a lot of my long distance meetings using technologies ranging from Skype to Cisco.

For the same reason you cannot change your weight without changing your diet, you cannot get the quality you deserve without demanding it — consistently. Change before you have to.

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3 Responses to The season for empty promises and meaningless predictions

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  2. Craig Daniels says:

    I also agree that people are big on waving the “Change” flag, as long as they, themselves do not have to alter their own behavior. Maybe it is time to leave keeping up with the Joneses behind and realize that we can not buy, respect,happiness or validation through conspicuous consumption.

  3. Gregory says:

    Craig, thank you for the comment. There is a very interesting essay by Peggy Noonan on the subject of personal responsibility that you may also find interesting http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704152804574628522483219740.html.

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