The Chaos Scenario – Part 3

legoIn the previous blog, we expanded on The Chaos Scenario, Bob Garfield’s thought-provoking book that says we are in a period of ‘chaos’ as the old advertising and media paradigm collapses and businesses aren’t moving fast enough to engage with the truly empowered consumer.

This blog is set up as a Q&A. It is NOT verbatim. It is based on the sense of the long conversation Bob and I had. Bob has gone over all the text and said — and this IS verbatim — “looks good to me.”

The New Consumer

John: What’s really new about the consumer this time? We’ve been hearing about the ‘new’ consumer for years.

Bob: Technology has really changed things. Today’s consumer is rooted in a potent combination of self-interest and self-esteem. They ‘broadcast’ themselves. We have to listen to their conversation.

They have real power now. To help or hurt your business. And, you can’t control the message to them anymore.

John: Is this what you mean by Listenomics?


Bob: Yes, in the book, I say “Listen to them because hardly anyone is listening to you these days.”

This threatens old media and the old agency model because they haven’t really learned to listen the right way.

John: You became a first person example of the self-interested, ‘broadcasting’ consumer when you launched the Comcast Must Die website. I laughed so hard when I read the story.

And, it had a big impact on Comcast and got them tuned into the conversation of their (mostly unhappy) customers. Comcast had to ‘die’ so it could live.

Bob: Yes, the consumer now drives the marketing ‘conversation’ and most companies still don’t get it. At least Comcast is working on it now.

Listenomics works. Dell has really embraced it. Procter and Gamble is all over it.

John: How does it work?

Bob: It’s simple. Turn your customer into flesh and blood instead of just a statistic.

The customer has so much to offer, including their loyalty, passion, they can contribute to R&D – you just have to stop thinking of them as the other end of the transaction.

John: That’s quite a leap for any business, not just radio or TV.

Until recently, most companies haven’t really engaged their customers much. Especially in R&D.

Bob: That’s why Listenomics is so important. If you can focus the shared minds of your consumers on your product , they will help you make it great.

John: In The Chaos Scenario you have an amazing chapter on how this worked for Lego.

You describe how ‘ A Danish maker of toy plastic bricks has taught the world that the group formerly known as the “audience” — or customer, consumer, voter, you-name-it-er— is now part of the team.’

Bob: They realized that their fans, those who are most passionate about their products, are the ones who are most likely to help them navigate to success.

It took a lot of courage for Lego to let them in. Now that they have, I don’t think they would have it any other way.

Change Your Mind Set

John: This is a big change in mind set for most companies.

Bob: It’s a whole different world view or belief system. It’s an opportunity for business.

It’s a transformational disruption. We are never going back to the good old days.

I don’t think the economic story of the century is the near depression. I think it’s digital revolution which is the biggest thing since the industrial revolution.

John: So, to grow, businesses need to learn how to listen to the conversation. And, then they need to learn how to engage their customers in their growth.

This is going to have serious impact on the traditional model of advertising and media.

Tomorrow – Part 4. The future of marketing, ad targeting and false information.  How to reach and engage consumers in the digital age.

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