Airplanes, Satellites & "Space"
In my lifetime the world has become homogenized. Meaning the peoples of the planet earth have become more alike than unalike.
And they are becoming more and more so every day.
Marketing is greatly affected by this fact. In fact, in my less than
humble opinion, (I feel rather strongly about this), different strokes
for different folks isn't half what it claims to be. In the majority of
cases, a similar message to the "same" audience at nearly the same time,
no matter where they live or work, will give you positive results.
This does not say history, cultural, language, experience play no part
in what you say and how you say it. Or that databases and the knowledge
they store are out of style. Of course, each of these elements make a
difference. It's just that this way of doing business is way, way over
Why is this so?
Well, 3 major non-marketing happenings since the Korean War of the 1950's
have occurred. Each was a major step in setting the stage to get us to
where we are today. And each has had a major impact on our marketing.
Products or services, new or traditional, branded or not - these 3 events
have shaped the marketing world.
First is the jet airplane engine.
In 1958/59 DC-8s and 707s took to the skies. Travel been cities, countries
and continents was cut in half, and it changed the world of marketing
forever. Oh, airplanes had been around for a while. During the '30s PanAm
introduced the Clipper fleet and true passenger travel began. Yet, it
wasn't until jets were hung from the wings that people and planes really
came together. And then there was an explosion of travel.
People learned they could experience - and enjoy - something unique and
different. They also learned communication between these "different" people
wasn't so different. And certainly not so difficult as they may have thought.
Business jumped in. Trade between peoples began with the second person
on earth. Between nations it took a little longer. The British lead Commonwealth
really opened the door. The ships of the world moved goods back and forth.
Yet, it wasn't until the airplane that the trade door opened wide.
Yes, it was the jet airplane engine that made a significant difference
for people. For when "the people" learned they could not only visit with
others, but also do commerce, things became truly different.
So, marketing, advertising and sales began a slow walk down a new path.
At just about the same time Kennedy and Nixon staged the first presidential
debate in the United States. Things have not been the same since. In either
commerce - or the political arena. All because of the jet airplane engine.
The second non-marketing event began it's influence June 1, 1980. That's
the exact date a "crazy" guy named Ted Turner threw a satellite into the
sky and named it CNN.
There were probably less than a 100 people outside Mr. Turner's group
who thought a 24 hour all news network would last. Or have any influence.
Well, as those in 210 countries, and counting know, it did much more.
It was 11 years before the BBC brought their satellite television to
the world. (Outside the military, the BBC was the only broadcast network
doing regular worldwide short wave radio.) Yet, when they did join the
game, they had an immediately impact.
Today it is a rare hotel I'm in anywhere in the world that does not offer
2 or 3 versions of CNN. Plus 1 or 2 others ... such as Fox, MSNBC or CNBC,
Satellites brought the Gulf War into our home. We watched the Rodney
King roits in Southern California on our television. Why, I was in Bangkok
during the Los Angeles fray. I saw everything you saw. And it was "live".
June, 1989 - the square in Bejing ... we watched. The immediate aftermath
of the Princess Di accident - we all were there. Daily "live" reports
from Camp David. The Seoul Olympic Games. The floods of Bangladesh. The
fires of Montana. The volcano in Iceland. The changes in Cape Town.
It's not so much the choice of broadcast that is the influence - it's
the spread of the choice. Why else would USA style basketball, compliments
of the National Basketball Association, be a hot view in Tokyo. And Sao
Paulo. The United States has taken "American Football" to Europe. Would
this have happened without satellites? I think not - I know not! And so
What this means is the world sees through a different set of eyes. The
selection of media and of topic is much grander than ever before. Granted,
we view only what the journalists elect to share. Not always a complete
picture. Still, you have more options in 24 hours than your parents ever
Yes, the second non-marketing event to affect marketing was information
Point 3; the third truly non-marketing event was created in 1969. Yet,
it was not until 25 years later - in 1994 - that it mattered.
We call it the Internet. The World Wide Web portion of the Internet.
Created for research and military communication efforts - it has (and
is) changing marketing. The third such happening.
WOW, what WWW has meant to marketing. In the decade of the 1990's it
became the darling of the media world. We no longer ask IF you have a
web site ... we "assume" you do. We just ask for your call letters.
Just as we know you have a mailing address, a fax, a phone - we "know"
you have a web site. And if you don't we're equally surprised as if you
said you didn't have a television or a radio. It is "expected" that if
you are a real business you will have a WWW address.
Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures says the Web is a "revolution
of the mind". He may have something. All (well, most) that is on the WWW
has been and is available someplace else. "Knowledge" has always been
out there for us. The Web makes it different only because this knowledge
is now so readily - and easily - accessible.
In the "old" days we had to go to the library to get the book that had
the facts we needed. If we were lucky we found what we were looking for.
If not, we found an "ole salt" - someone with experience in this area.
And picked their brain. All this took all sorts of time.
Today a few finger "clicks" and we've got what we need. Most often with
quick success. Certainly faster than it takes to find the car keys needed
to get you to the library.
We continue to call upon contacts, friends and others with history and
experience. Because people exchanging ideas with other people cannot be
replaced. Yet, when was the last time YOU went to the book library? I
can't recall my last visit - years and years ago. I go to my laptop, type
in www.somethingorother.com, and bingo - in seconds my search has begun.
This revolution has affected marketing in at least 2 ways;
- ... the Web allows us to do or be or act when we, the people, feel the
need. 24/7/365 - no matter the product or service. Time is without limits.
- ... the Web puts the buyer 100% in charge - probably for the first time
There has always been "the customer". I recall my engineer trained dad
teaching me; "you ask what your customer needs, and you give it to him".
At a basic level the local corner grocer did the same with my mom. As
a grade school kid I recall seeing the process happen.
Yet, my dad could give only what he manufactured. And the grocer offered
only what was on the shelves. In each case there were "hours" when you
could buy what these sellers offered. In each case - both the B-2-B as
well as B-2-C world - "more" was available. At a premium price, and at
the expense of more time.
None of this need be so today. Oh, the philosophy "the customer is always
right" has not disappeared. What the Web has done different is to allow
the customer to first determine what they need when they need it. And
then - big difference here - to search and research, to make a decision,
to take action - "buy" - and to move on. There's a very good chance you
- the seller - will know nothing of these thoughts. Or these actions.
Unless you are fortunate enough to be the seller chosen by the customer.
By the time you know anything it is most often too late to influence the
process in any way. If you are not selected - you are out. Maybe never
again to get "in" to that customers mind. Yes, there is a "revolution
of the mind".
Example; recently I was suddenly in the marketplace for a couple of pieces
of luggage. A pair of my most traveled bags literally wore out. Chatting
casually with my bride about this, she offered to "shop the web".
In less time than it takes you to read this page she found half a dozen
sources for exactly what I was looking for. After a very quick comparison
of style, size and price a decision was made. The products were ordered
on line. An E-mail confirmation from the supplier was almost instant.
Plus, this time the seller took another step ... the next day they made
a telephone "thank-you for your order" call.
Where am I shopping next time I need luggage? Is there any doubt?
The World Wide Web was not envisioned as a marketing, advertising and
sales tool. Any more than the airplane was dreamed as such. Nor satellites
as a way to bring knowledge instantly to the world.
Yet, each of these 3 non-marketing events - all bursting upon the scene
in less than 2 generations of time - have greatly altered how our message
gets to our audience.
And isn't it fun!