Account planning and marketing planning is a funny business. As mentioned yesterday, I was at Digital Music Forum East in NYC earlier this week and one of the panel geezers (I’m a geeze too) was suggesting that it’s consumers, the kids really, who will tell us what is “cool.” They vote with their wallets. I paraphrase the gentleman, “If we think it’s cool, it probably isn’t.” Defeatist, no?
An article on cell phone marketing from today’s NYT tells of how some mobile phone marketers are asking consumers to write journals about their phone experiences. They can even call a toll-free number to record what they like about their phones.
Ceding marketing decisions to consumers is BS. And it’s lazy. It results in “rearview mirror planning.” Great marketers evaluate consumers and build for the future, not based upon the past. The people keeping mobile phone journals should not be reporting what they like about the phone, but what they are using the phone for. Account planners should not be asking consumers what they like, but what are doing. Any anthropologist will tell you that. “Excuse me, Amazon rain forest man, what does it feel like being from the rain forest? What do you like about it?”
I work for Zude, a social computing platform. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that within 10 years everyone with access to a computer will have a website. It’s going to happen. Ask consumers if they need a website — as we have — and a little more than half will say “yes.” But that is not stopping us. We’re looking ahead. We know the future.