Gerry Campbell is a serial entrepreneur, investor and adviser (bio). He’s also a good friend. Gerry has just published a new book, Demand Horizon: A Revolutionary Approach to Creating Great Products. The book introduces a new mental model for understanding and adapting to the demand-driven economy. It’s a framework for making sense of the new rules in product creation, offering both strategic understanding and practical actions for adapting to the new rules of business. Demand Horizon shines a light on the techniques and approaches that have enabled him to create patented products that are used by every person on earth who uses a search engine, social networking site or smartphone.
As he was finalizing the book, Gerry asked me to write the foreword. As a friend, the answer was a given. However, after reading it, I couldn’t wait to be part of the Demand Horizon! Gerry was gracious enough to allow me to share the foreword with you here…unabridged.
Innovate or Die!
Demand Horizon gets at the heart of the changes that are transforming business today. Customers are in control, now and forever into the future. The model presented in this book provides a roadmap for building products and creating businesses that are aligned with the new rules of marketing.
In 1999, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger published the The Cluetrain Manifesto. The book represented a set of 95 theses that translated into a call to action for businesses of all shapes and sizes to change with the rise of the Internet. The authors’ hypothesized that the Internet ushered in a social economy that would bring about the end of business as usual.
Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies. Today’s markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny, and often shocking. Companies that aren’t listening to these exchanges are missing a dire warning. Companies that aren’t engaging in them are missing an unprecedented opportunity.
Now at over a decade old, their message rings louder and truer today. With the pervasiveness of today’s social and mobile media, customers are not only more connected, they’re more informed. As a result, your customers are empowered and they’re increasingly discerning, demanding, and impatient. These connected customers expect companies to listen. They want to be engaged. And, experiences prevail above products and services.
This isn’t just the end of business as usual; this is an era when consumers insist on taking business personally.
Capturing the Attention of Generation-C (Connected)
See, connected customers share one thing in common…they live a digital lifestyle. They’re always on, navigating through life and work with their heads pointed downward and their faces illuminated by the glow of their mobile screens. This generation is narcissistic. We live in what I call an egosystem. People literally have friends, family, businesses, organizations revolving around them in social networks. Don’t fight…accept it. To them, things are simply more efficient this way. News no longer breaks, it Tweets. Now, relevant information finds you faster than ever before. Products and services must too adapt.
The future of customer engagement requires a more thoughtful and localized approach. Connected customers aren’t complacent, fickle or unfaithful, they’re focused on what’s important to them. As they’re always connected to their streams, and you are too for that matter, then become part of their stream. Become part of their network. What’s important to understand is that connected customers rely on the experiences and input of their peers to make decisions. And, those businesses that deliver great experiences, those that share similar values, earn loyalty that is unrivaled by customers of the past. This isn’t about networking. This is about building a community where association is the meeting of aspiration, orientation, and validation. A true community though is much more than belonging to something, it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.
Invent, Adapt, or Get Out of the Way
Forcing customers through outdated sales funnels isn’t going to improve relationships or experiences. Unleashing the wrath of aging service models and leaving customers to fend for themselves through diabolical call center jungles is in hindsight ridiculous.
Instead, we will explore new horizons to build the foundations of tomorrow…today.
To compete today, right now, in both real-time and at the right time, takes competing for the future. The way people make decisions, how we support them, how we meet expectations, how we design product and services that meet unmet needs, how we reduce friction, is solved for by embracing innovation, objectivity and always considering possibilities and opportunities.
As always, actions speak louder than words. New frameworks are needed. New processes are needed. But more importantly, a new vision and overarching philosophy is essential to lead us away from a culture of management and mediocrity to a culture of leadership and innovation. For if we’re not competing for the future, we are only competing for the moment, and thus irrelevance.
This is the new “usual” and it continues to change everyday. What of that comfort zone you’re sitting in right now? Prepare to move and keep moving until you seek comfort in a zone that is constantly evolving.
The bottom line is that things aren’t going back to the way they were and that’s a good thing.
How will you earn relevance today and tomorrow to compete for the future today and every day?
Innovation begins with the desire to do something that means something. And all effort starts with a drive to understand the needs of the customer. A business that is rooted in the customer and enlivened by vision, passion and resilience can participate in this time of unprecedented opportunity. Let’s get to work.