Thought Leadership Studio Podcast Episodes:

The Future of Marketing- Two Upcoming Trends

Episode Eighteen: There are Great Advantages in Being Early.
Get Ahead of the Curve and Embrace Change for Strategic Advantage.


#insight, #marketlistening, #marketresearch, #paradigms, #paradigmshifts, #thoughtleadership, #thoughtleadershipmarketing

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What this episode will do for you

  • Learn to better notice the dynamics that drive change early.
  • Get a head start on new advantages that can help you grow market share.
  • Discover some likely upcoming trends.
  • Learn how to be a driver of positive change and capture the first mover advantage.

The Advantages of Getting In Early

Early SEO Adopters Had a Huge Advantage.

I experienced a personal example of how great rewards can go to early adopters. In the late 2000's, my agency was doing SEO work for local brick and mortar businesses. It was like shooting fish in a barrel when I worked with clients in a market segment whose competitors hadn't "gotten it" yet.

What were these competitors missing? In that case, Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Since then, the adoption rate has gone way up. But, at the time, it was still a "new thing".

When there was a niche full of companies with sub-optimized websites, the first one to get fully optimized for search engines.... The first one to have an expansive social media presence.... The first one to have regular fresh content ... stood out so much from the others that these methods could be used to dominate a market.

And they did. As I described it at the time, it was about making competition seem invisible on the internet.

Some of these clients grew at more than a hundred percent a year. Others more than doubled their market share.

You don't have to be the "first mover" everywhere to gain the first mover advantage. You just need to be first among your direct competitors.

And why wasn't everyone doing that? In addition to the skepticism about this newfangled method of marketing online, it was because of delayed gratification. SEO doesn't work immediately and that time lag creates a distortion of perception. It sometimes takes months and this contrast with the illusion of things working immediately when you simply buy pay-per-click ads. I write illusion because some of those clicks are likely from bots and people are much less likely to click on a pay-per-click ad than they are a more credible, organically earned high search engine placement.

So I and my customers benefited greatly from early adoption. And I got known for bringing businesses to the leadership position in their niches.

This is not a podcast about SEO but I present it as example of the advantages in moving early on an upcoming trend ... before the bandwagon effect sets in.

How do you get ahead of the curve?

The Future of MarketingYou can't a hundred percent know what is coming up because the future is malleable.

You can, however, participate in shaping the future by seeing where there is a pregnancy for a particular direction of change.

There's room for new thinking when prevalent thinking is not satisfying important values in a segment.

To put it in fancier but more exact terms, there is a need for change when there is a misalignment between values and mental models.

This dynamic is discoverable with the methodology I call Audience Attunement: a form of audience listening that operates on a different set of principles than are typical in big data. It is based on different assumptions.

How to Sense Upcoming Trends.

Recently I went into the method of Audience Attunement via a blog post Don't Miss the Opportunity of Your Prospects' Online Research and podcast 5 Steps to Market Insight. In short, this flavor of insight is about finding a misalignment between widespread values and prevalent mental models in a market segment.

When there's an important value that isn't being met by the dominant mental model, that mental model is ripe for change.

That's an opportunity for Strategic Thought Leadership. And it's also a clue that - even without someone taking the lead - it's going to organically change over time.

The trick is to initiate the change or at least get ahead of the change in order to take full advantage of it. Be part of the change consciously, make the change as positively as possible. Dovetail the needs of the audience with your own, if you can align it with the benefits of a product service or perspective that you offer.

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But even if no one is currently visibly taking advantage of this market misalignment between values and models with a clear Thought Leadership Position, over a longer time the change is likely. There could be a paradigm shift.

Upcoming Trend One: Marketing Designed from the Customer Point of View.

The Customer Point of ViewBig Data shrinks the customer point of view to another small data point in all those graphs they provide. But it is the customer who sets the value of a service.

If you keep treating people as objects and invading their privacy, the Marie Antoinette moment will come. Bringing the tech capabilities we have to the customers’ point of view instead and asking how it could best serve their learning needs builds deeper rapport. This builds relationships built on trust resulting in higher profits.

Isn’t it more effective to serve instead of manipulate? Isn’t it more insightful to see the systemic truth that hierarchies that don’t serve the lower parts eventually collapse?

I see technology that many currently use to study and track the customer pivoting more to their point of view. It will evolve to learn to listen to what they want more respectfully and provide it to them: empowering content that helps them make smarter purchase decisions and extract more value out of the products and services that marketers represent.

Current dominant mental models: "It's the data that is most important. If you sell customer data to advertisers you make the most money"

Unsatisfied audience values: Respect, Privacy

Mental models that better meet unsatisfied values: "It's the customer that's most important and if you leave the customer view out, they will rebel. Serving the customers' desire to learn via pre-purchase research with empowering content builds the positive relationships that lead to long-term profits."

Upcoming Trend Two: Human Creativity Will be Revered More Than Ever in an Age of AI and Bots.

Human creativity in marketing
With more tools enabling easier creation of digital media and more accessible management of online marketing, the internet is growing crowded with nice looking websites and fully fleshed-out content programs. Internet Live Stats counts over 1.7 billion websites as I write this.

This means an attractive web presence and regular posting isn't enough anymore. To market effectively, you need to craft a strategic, well-structured, customer-centered thought leadership position then promote it well.

In short, with media and methods getting easier, there's little opportunity for competitive advantage with either. The way to get noticed and convert attention to business is with a creative leading message. Otherwise, you get lost in the mix.

That need for an original message is driving demand for the creative thinking that generates innovative new answers to the questions customers ask online when researching before a purchase.

Bot writing looks less appealing in that light. This shifts the perceived role of MarTech, especially AI, in the minds of those who were looking to delegate writing and content generation to machines, hence more are seeing that AI is our partner, not our replacement.

Current dominant mental models: "If you use bot-generated content, that extra economy in content creation helps you succeed with online marketing."

Unsatisfied audience values: Progress, Creativity, Connection.

Mental models that better meet unsatisfied values: "If you use bot generated content, it will be perceived as parrot content or content pollution and degrade your online reputation. If you apply human creativity well, content that leads to new thinking will build a positive relationship with a growing audience and lead to success."

Note how tuning in to the unmet higher values of your audience informs insight as to what message will resonate with them.

I am admittedly simplifying the process of Audience Attunement to keep the podcast episode and accompanying post concise. See the 7 Levels of Influence and Learning for a more thorough model. But those two levels - values and mental models - are usually key to noticing incoming trends that will build as well as opportunities for Strategic Thought Leadership.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Build your skills and resources for audience insight and you can design a bright, tall, shining better future with a well-constructed Thought Leadership Model that sets your message - as well as you or your company - apart.


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Written by Chris McNeil, Strategic Thought Leadership NLP Coach and Consultant, Founder of Thaut, host of Thought Leadership Studio podcast, and Creator of the Thaut Process of Strategic Thought Leadership.

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