Just read an article by one of my favorite futurists and big thinkers - J Walker Smith, of The Futures Company and it made me think and embrace the role marketing has in driving business growth. It's less about projecting and pro-formaing annual increases in appreciation for products sold by the business. It's less about financial modeling and those equations. That is the traditional strategy for success in a high growth economy - when there is an expanding pool of more people able to pay a higher price for your products sold. Modeling and projecting volume and velocity of increases. That worked in a high growth economy.

The article makes a powerful case that the slower growth we are seeing is not a down cycle soon to rebound, or a "slower than expected recovery". J Walker Smith and team lay out how and why the economy has been shifted to a lower set point that will persist, and any cycles will go up and down around this set point. Enter marketing, and the huge job of creating new demand. Slower growth is a consumer disruption of demand. Growth won't come from more people willing to pay more for what we sell. It will come from expanding our product and business offerings within this bounded, constrained market a.k.a. from creating new demand, not following previously predictable economic trends and projecting aggressive growth rates. 

Our job is to rethink and reshape markets constrained by the cycle of slower economic growth reduces consumer spending - weaker consumer spending reduces economic growth. 

How? 

  • Look at the demographic shifts in who has money today, shifts in social values and impacts of technology - it's at the intersection of these and other factors where new pools of potential can be created
  • Look at the cultural edges - it's here where leading edge consumers live and are doing their part shifting cultural and social values - and in so doing changing what customers judge as a value proposition. That shift can create seismic new product opportunities. 
  • Look at the disruptors - outside your industry - for the risk-takers disrupting other industries, and not just for entertainment, but as inspiration to change your business model. And then change it! 



The full article is here, and worth the read. It's one of the best my marketing mind has read in some time about what we all seem to be referring to with phrases like, "The economic recovery has been slower than we projected", or "we projected higher increases in the recovery than we are seeing", or "we're still not back to the normal markets before the crash", or "the new normal". 

It's a siren call to marketing types in all industries to use your powers of observation, your ability to connect disparate pieces of information and find the "so what factor". Find a way to ask "how might we" when you see a glimmer of new potential demand. And, take the hill. The future of business depends on it. We can count and model money all day long. It's going to get more difficult to make it.