Jeffrey Sachs is an economist. When the Soviet Union and then the eastern block crumbled he advised them to change everything. Basically “shock therapy” for an economic system. Throw out socialism completely and go cold turkey capitalism. To some extent the soviets took Sachs’ advice. They sold off state industries and stimulated private enterprises. Some think it did not work. We look today at China in comparison to Russia and it seems like Sachs was wrong. Whatever you think of free enterprise, still China will not change. This specially true in large scale enterprises. When change occurs in such grand scale it is very hard to stop and think long enough. It is very hard to predict how something will affect your actions in the long term. Sachs may still be right after all. While shifting communism to capitalism seems logical, there are many things Sachs did not understand about changes. But overall some things Sachs tried to influence are basic to economic success. How does this apply to marketing today? Plenty.
In marketing we have seen even bigger shift than the economic changes in communist countries. Until the Internet we had “channels of communication” and “marketing channels”. We therefore developed a work-flow of figuring out what people wanted to hear, carefully developing messages in form of advertisements and offers, then delivering them. This world changed completely when the Internet became available to the population at large. Some marketing professionals understood this change. But just like the Russian and Chinese leaders faced the problem of how to change a whole industry. Maybe change the way people perceived and thought about the world (or at least about how we make our buying decisions.) Well, in many ways it is impossible to change people. But it is also necessary to do. Communication has changed in such a fundamental way that maybe from the ones in the marketing field change will not take place.
Marketing has tried to change. But for most it simply can not. My background is in technology marketing. When the Internet first came, every company I worked for did not take full advantage of the technology. Some middle managers saw the change as monumental. But even really smart people could not see what will happen and how to shift the way we were marketing. Eventually we saw Amazon and then eBay. We compared it to how Borders and flea markets worked. The term “brick and mortar” was used to explain how to “integrate” the marketing and shopping in stores to the one “on line”. I have to admit, we were naive. The sad story is how this view is still among many marketing professionals. Thanks for reading, please come back and comment.