Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Future of Marketing: Three Questions Every Marketer Should Ask Themselves

The condition of learning is most fully engaged when we undervalue that which we think we know and overvalue that which we think don't.

Ken Fisher manages investments...a lot of them. As son and heir to one of the post- 1930's investment legends, he's had a first hand look at nearly a century's worth of market cycles, successes, and failures. You'd think someone like that could teach investors a thing or two...or three.

But marketers?

I think so. Fisher has written an entire book on the subject of three questions every investor should ask. I've seen the questions. They are not small. They don't ask you to consider whether Ben Bernanke is a hero or villian...nor do they ask you to contemplate the future social influence of generations of teens, tweens, X's and Yer's with vampire and zombie obsessions.

In spite of that, I think theses questions can do more than guide investors. They are useful inquiries for the larger lives we all lead, beyond investing...big picture life questions worthy!

And so...The 3Q's
  1. What do you believe that is actually false?
  2. What can you fathom that others find unfathomable?
  3. What the heck is my brain doing to blindside me now?

So what?

The obvious element of all three questions is that they ask one to self-reflect. And that's their power.

In a time where social media seems on the surface to be so chock full of ourselves as to provide all the insight into all of us that any of us might need, one senses there is often a very blurry line between indulgent navel gazing and meaningful self study.

These questions, on the other hand, ask us to challenge what we know, personally, and to know ourselves better in the process.

More than a handful of bloggers have asked what the future will hold for marketing, marketers, and the brands we serve. Many thousands have offered their answers with variations on wishful thinking themes or dramatic doomsaying.

But while facts certainly are not personal, truths often are. The personal truths about marketing's future will exist as thousands of variations in individual marketer's minds...some will be satisfied to co-opt the truths of others.

For the leaders, though, these three questions can help us discover our own truth about marketing...usually in the form of new questions. For example:

  • If I believe that online display advertising is useful for branding, what if that is false?
  • If I can fathom a world in which privacy is routinely exchanged for added service, what opportunity does that present my brands...and my customers?
  • If I'm focussed on using social media for my PR, what larger societal trends might I be missing in my planning?

For marketers--just like investors, politicians, parents and every human ever born--the first step to understanding the truth in others often comes in the form of a question...of ourselves. Ken Fisher's three are a great start.

For a mysterious question mark with an answer of 96 tears, check it:

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