The business of marketing as we know it is a creature of the ice age. It has evolved to adapt to set of very limiting conditions in the way that a woolly mammoth evolved to adapt to, what we now see as, the very limiting conditions of cold temparatures. Until recently, we haven’t been able to see what marketing’s limiting conditions have been in the same way that woolly mammoth’s didn’t think it was especially cold.
However, we can now see that marketing’s limiting condition has been the high cost of distributing information. This has meant that the evolutionary path of marketing has been about efficiency of message – packing the greatest amount of information into the smallest space in order to make the most of the precious resource which is the ability to harness an expensive distribution channel.
The arrival of social media is the equivalent of a global rise in temperature. The condition which shaped life on the planet, coldness, is going away. The ability to preserve heat is no longer a competitive advantage. Or to express this in social media terms, the cost of distributing information has fallen to near zero and the competitive advantage attached to the ability to communicate a brand message in 30 seconds is likewise being eroded.
Within the warm world of social media your competitive advantage lies in having a credible story, not a proposition (as previously explained).
I think this anology has been prompted by the fact that Santa delivered the DVD set of Ice Age and Ice Age2 this Christmas. For those unfamiliar with this animation series – they feature a woolly mammoth, a sabre-tooth tiger, a sloth and a squirrel having various adventures all set within the “limiting conditions” of the last Ice Age or its end. Of these four creatures, of course only two are still with us, the sloth and the squirrel. The small ones. The big beasts, those most specifically adapted to succeed in cold temperatures, became extinct. There might be a warning there.