Future Shock. The Third Wave. Power Shift. And now, Revolutionary Wealth. Having read the first three of Alvin Toffler's bestsellers on how life is changing and why, I searched for his fourth major work in 2000. His series clarified for laypeople the evolution from a "first wave" agrarian-based economy to a "second-wave" industrial to the knowledge-based "third-wave" economy, and his prognostications were very useful. I needed the one I was sure would be out in 2000, but it wasn't there.

Future Shock, published in 1970, prepared us for the information age; The Third Wave, published in 1980, further interpreted the movement toward electronic empowerment; Power Shift, published 1990, prophesied a change in the very nature of power. Then, the Tofflers, as Alvin included his wife Heidi, stated they would not publish a book in 2000. The turn of the millennium was not a good time --too many uncertainties. Finally, in 2006, Revolutionary Wealth joined the line up of hallmark achievements for these very special authors.

What's in their book for you? A mind-blowing discourse on what goes on in the first decade of the 21st Century and what to look for; an expansive digest of world trends and events that are churning up the "third wave." A reader might be lucky enough to amass revolutionary wealth by keying into one of the featured trends of the knowledge economy. For example: "The new wealth system demands a complete shake-up in the way increasingly temporary skill sets are organized for increasingly temporary purposes throughout the economy." This prediction may lead you to challenge your staff to find ways of meeting American customer desires by supporting their new and changing family configurations.

Or, you may be the powerful player who pushes legislative change to keep pace with societal need. The Tofflers note that while business and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are moving at speeds of 100 or 90 mph, labor unions, education and legal institutions are lagging at speeds of 30 to only 1 mph. This is an amazing dilemma if your law suit is never settled until your actual business need ceases to exist.

Knowledge Described
Taking a bird's eye-- or more like a satellite-view of production and human labor over history, one sees a bright future despite the glaring hardships besetting nations, economies and workers at the present. A glance at the facts of knowledge reveals why the knowledge-based economy holds immense potential for people relative to the agrarian and industrial epochs… Knowledge...

  • is inherently non-rival - the greater the number of people who use it, the more likely it is that someone will generate more knowledge from the same bit of it.
  • is intangible
  • is non-linear - tiny insights can yield huge outputs
  • is relational - a unique piece attains meaning only in context with other bits
  • mates with other knowledge - the more there is, the more possible combinations there are
  • is more portable than any other product - can be distributed instantaneously to the next cubicle or to ten million in Hong Kong at the same near-zero price
  • can be compressed into symbols or abstractions - unlike tangibles
  • can be stored in smaller and smaller spaces - coming soon is storage nano scale
  • can be explicit or implicit - shared or not
  • is hard to bottle up - it spreads.

(The above list is an edited version of the ten features on pp. 100-101 of RW.)

Can you now understand why more job creation is simply a matter of exercising our collective imaginations? Factories exported to Mexico? So what. China manufacturing more and more: Big deal. America, you are the giant of the knowledge economy! Realize your prowess!

Other messages are not so fun: Desynchronization between the deep fundamentals like time and space and our major institutions is a serious dilemma. MUCH more troubling: Our educational system is not preparing students to work in the new economy that is striving to get in sync with the deep fundamentals.

The Tofflers put stock in science. If the trends and realities of this accelerated day and time are shocking and unwieldy, apply scientific method and planning. This, in their view, is an effective salve for the human condition.

Prediction: In an age of NGOs becoming past-masters at negotiations and missions accomplished, we can expect human cloning and such other possibilities to occur. One NGO will fight against particular agendas; another will successfully advocate. The clout of NGOs will eclipse that of nations.

Insights for the US
RW is not blithely proglobal. It does not turn a blind eye to China's military budget "estimated to have shot up at least sixfold between 1991 and 2004" (p. 322) and its theft of intellectual property (p. 377).

RW sees that the great powers including America are less and less great. And in the current climate of anti-American sentiment worldwide, where is the appreciation for her contributions? Winston Churchill's statement about the U.S. Marshall Plan under which the WWII-torn nations were rebuilt as "the most unsordid act in history" is quoted.

As you can see, the book runs the gamut from reasons to regard your prospects with amazement to woeful potential turns of fate for the red-white-and-blue.

From the "24 hour street" in Curitiba, Brazil, to "obsoledge" in the internet, to the unpaid work of prosumers, to the rise of para-money, to sensor technology that is emerging as one of the most important industries of the future, you will like Revolutionary Wealth, if you enjoy roller coaster rides.

Revolutionary Wealth, by Alvin and Heidi Toffler. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006.

handshake

"I'll grow you if you'll grow me" - Strategic Marketing Ideas for Mature Businesses

by Anne Yeiser

Stop being driven by the competition and start teaming up with customers you can grow! That is the message mature businesses need to hear according to Recompetitive Strategies by Mack Hanan. Stop trying to plan FOR customers- they can only be planned WITH. Find ways of integrating your growth objectives and strategies with theirs!

These methods have worked for many Fortune 500 companies whose profits were declining, according to Hanan who is an internationally recognized consultant, author and lecturer on marketing, sales and business growth.

Growth followed by maturity followed by decline is not inevitable in the life cycle of a product, says Hanan. In the recompetitive model, maturity is followed by rebirth of growth, and the good news is: "The profits from recompetitive growth can, and most of the time do, exceed the profits from new growth, in their rate of return and very often in volume as well."

Hanan's insights are based on his consultation and research for large manufacturers and retailers, but they will be appreciated by any size firm seeking a new burst of growth, whether selling services or products. The only mature businesses which he has found not eligible to recompete are those with obsolete technology or "old school" managers.

Recompetitive Strategies states that efforts to restore competitiveness to old products usually focus on:

  • enhancing the product (usually unnecessary),
  • selling harder to current customers,
  • expanding sales to new customers, and
  • entering allied markets.

Hanan calls this "rouging the cheeks of the corpse."

The mature business should instead undertake:

  • market concentration
  • asset base shrinkage, and
  • product redefinition.

Market concentration means focusing on the customers who contribute the most profits. The ones willing to pay a premium price are those whose profits are being increased by their relationship with the mature business. It is crucial to understand their business and why yours is prospering theirs. They and new customers whose businesses can be grown are the mature business's "growth niche," according to Hanan. "Competitive maturity begins with one market-narrowing question: Whom can we grow?" The number of customers forming the growth niche may be only 20% of the total customer base. The remaining 80%, not to be ignored, are not a primary focus.

Asset base shrinkage, the second rule for becoming recompetitive, refers to the downsizing of product lines to those which best contribute to improved customer profits and those which still can be profitably mass marketed.

Product redefinition means replacing the tangible product or actual service with a financial product-- the profits it offers the customer's business. "[Profits] are the only true tangibles in any business transaction," says Hanan. "When profits instead of products are offered, price can be detached from product benefits and attached to their dollar benefits." This is how prices may be justifiably raised.

Hanan also outlines how to internalize customer data in order to merge into problem-solving partnerships with customers, how to re-train and reorganize for "consultative selling," how to price profits (not products), and how to identify customers who will be growth partners.

By permission of publisher from RECOMPETITIVE STRATEGIES, by Mack Hanan ©1986 AMACOM. a division of American Management Association, New York. All rights reserved.

many microphones

What would you do if the local news team or ombudsman phoned or appeared in your office? It could happen to you. Unexpected calls and visits from reporters and watchdogs are made to even the best companies, for unforeseen reasons.

Here is advice from Herb Schmertz on handling the media under adverse circumstances, from his book, Good-bye to the Low Profile. For 20 years Mr. Schmertz was a member of the board of directors and vice president of public affairs for Mobil Oil.

»» Don't let a reporter intimidate you into talking by telling you it's in your best interest to cooperate. He could be right, but the decision should be yours, not his or hers.
»» Feel free to ask the reporter whom else he will interview and what his sources are.
»» Don't allow a reporter to seduce you through flattery or by coming across as a trustworthy friend. In many cases, by engendering a warm, friendly feeling, his aim is to encourage you to say things you shouldn't.
»» Some reporters may use techniques or intimidation such as trying to convince you they are morally superior or represent the public more than you. Your objective is to put yourself on equal footing with the journalist. Remember, you are the expert.
»» Try to avoid saying "no comment."

Don't wait for an emergency to initiate contact with the media. Start now--when there's no story to report.

Treat reporters as you would want to be treated. Don't try to make friends with them, but do try to establish a real relationship so that they can respond to you as an individual instead of as the representative of a firm.

GOOD-BYE TO THE LOW PROFILE. 1986. Little, Brown & Company. Boston.

computer board

by Anne Yeiser

What can you learn from the Silicon Valley marketing experience? Can the hard-won insights of a high-tech marketing consultant benefit you?

The Regis Touch by Regis McKenna is subtitled "Million Dollar Advice from America's Top Marketing Consultant." The author has worked with more than 150 companies in Silicon Valley and helped bring success to upstarts such as Apple and its Macintosh.

He learned by experience that fast-changing industries must play by a new set of marketing rules since the old rules assumed that technologies and markets change slowly.

McKenna reveals these major points...

The new marketing, like the old is a battle for positioning, but the new requires dynamic positioning which is achieved through positioning the company, not just the product.

In a culture where constant flux and radical change are the norm, one must focus on intangibles such as quality and leadership in carving an image, rather than on price or product specifications. That is the only way to combat the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that trail rapid change, and to survive when the unexpected occurs-- and it will.

Recognizing that complexity is a growing cultural phenomenon, a company must target a specific niche rather than trying to be all things to all people. Products must be viewed in terms of unique benefits to capture prospects who are diverse and demanding.

Product positioning must be shored up through word-of-mouth campaigns in the marketplace because buying decisions hindered by FUD are based on personal recommendations more than on advertising. McKenna outlines how to launch a word-of-mouth campaign.

Strategic press relations and a good reputation in the financial community are also indispensable. All these elements and processes result in dynamic positioning.

Market creation, not market sharing, is essential in fast-changing industries. The traditional market-share strategies focus on advertising, promotion, pricing and distribution and on winning market share from others. Market-creating strategies instead emphasize 1. applying technology, 2. educating the market, 3. cultivating the good will and recognition of retailers, analysts and anyone between the customer and manufacturer who has an influence on the buying process, and 4. creating new standards. Marketing managers must think like entrepreneurs and be willing (allowed) to experiment and take risks.

Companies in the fast lane must be market-driven, not marketing-driven. Marketing-driven businesses stake their livelihood on advertising and promotion, while a market-driven approach 1. develops strong products, 2. requires the manager to understand the structure of the market, and 3. focuses on building relationships and strategic alliances with other people and companies in the marketplace. It uses advertising and promotion to reinforce positions, not to create them.

The new marketing is qualitative, not quantitative. Marketeers who rely on numbers can miss the action since extrapolating the trends of the past or the present "almost never works," says McKenna. Example: In the 1940s, computer companies estimated the total world market for computers to be several dozen. They obviously failed to envision the rapid spread of new applications, or the sharp decline in prices.

Qualitative marketing is based on intuition-- that sense of what is going on in the marketplace based on a broad-based, first-hand study of it. It takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, the perceptions and attitudes of customers and prospects, and the social and political trends of the nation. These factors are continually, creatively monitored, and marketing strategy is adjusted accordingly.

McKenna recommends:
»» a clear but flexible company mission,
»» internal and external audits to define company goals and market trends before strategies are laid,
»» roundtable discussions rather than lengthy marketing reports,
»» a company culture that encourages innovation,
»» an organization that enables fast decision making, and
»» selling to the right customers - those that make quick buying decisions, which often are not the [bureaucratic] Fortune 500.

He discusses 10 intangible competitors which marketing managers in fast-changing industries must confront. The first one mentioned is change. The U.S. auto industry is cited for ignoring the growing demand for small cars, which is how it lost market snare to the Japanese.

To discover McKenna's other nine intangible competitors, read The Regis Touch. To evaluate whether they might threaten your company, consult with us!

THE REGIS TOUCH, by Regis McKenna. Copyright 1985. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Most of us who make a living tethered to a computer understand the concept of verbal-visual composing. We call it "adding eye-candy" to the text. But on a higher level where advertising and marketing campaigns are devised for Fortune 100 or Inc. 5000 clients, the process takes on a high-stakes urgency to employ methods that produce Results.

So, it's good to know that the ivory-tower set is at work to explore and teach verbal-visual composing. In Envisioning Collaboration, Dr. Geoffrey A. Cross places a gigantic magnifying glass over an unnamed ad agency in the throes of developing a media campaign for an important prospect. He joins the team as an observer and researcher in an "ethnographic" approach. This type of "real-world" exploration will be helpful in teaching students how to benefit employers in search of better marketing mousetraps.

As well, the book is helpful for ad agencies and the academic community. Each group will gain a finer appreciation for the other by learning more about how its polar opposite approaches the topic, and will learn insights to apply to work projects. Perhaps it will open some doors for a fraternal order where ad people provide war stories for professors to debrief, and bring about some needed camaraderie.

Cross, a specialist in Collaborative Business Communication at the University of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.), sets forth to evaluate and build on theories that have been developed by fellow academics on how writers and commercial artists can best interface for successful creative work.

As software and website resources make it easier and faster to combine verbal and visual content, and as visual content takes the lead in guiding viewers and readers, those involved in procuring "share of mind" for companies whose public-enemy-number-one is the information glut, need the best training and insights possible.

Artists and writers understand the trends, so in collaborating, their private spheres are not as guarded as in the past.

Creative people deserve respect!

Too many variables influence the process of developing an ad message. Good grief, we ad people must thoroughly study and understand the effects of current challenges on our customer's industry, how to differentiate the customer's offerings, what the mix of media AND messages ought to be to reach and capture the right audiences, and how to pitch to all those people with a view to their psychographics and demographics, as we take advantage of the latest tools and techniques for creative work, with the goal of achieving the edge. It's a lot to do.

The staff at the agency under Dr. Cross's scrutiny was in the process of doing all those things. With the "creative brief" in mind, the creative people went to work to come up with concepts that would develop into comprehensive layouts to show the prospect.

Although the creative process is ephemeral in nature, Dr. Cross does expose its chimeric underbelly. At the end of the book, one feels his good, long, hard look at creativity-in-motion provides a reality check for us creative types before we start on the next big project.

Verbal-visual composing relies on inspiration and brainstorming, yet there are tips and tricks and boundaries that can be set so that inventive minds do not spin without weaving, and so that results can be successfully applied to the key media.

This study revealed the importance of personal selling within a planned environment, and had a happy ending: the special reward of customer loyalty and appreciation for hard work.

I recommend this book to agencies and creative people seeking to hone the skills and processes that shape their ad campaigns. Although the creative process normally moves at warp speed, some reflection on how it works or is derailed can only help to guide it.

Envisioning Collaboration: Group Verbal-Visual Composing in a System of Creativity, by Geoffrey A. Cross. Published by Baywood Publishing Co., Amityville, NY, 2011.