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Entrepreneurs Beware

February 12, 2017

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I’m insanely passionate about the possibilities that social media gives us – we have never lived through a more empowering time for young entrepreneurs. We all walk around holding an incredible amount of information, and with one push of a button, we are able to share our words and ideas with millions of people from around the world.

However, if you want to be an entrepreneur in the 21st century, then you face a particularly unique challenge: cutting through all the noise in order to gain and hold the attention of your target market. And if you want to do so efficiently, then spending your dollars on traditional forms of marketing will be fruitless. Why? Because traditional marketing is dying.

This is largely due to the fact that technology is advancing at such an exponential rate that what we may envision as science fiction, is crossing the chasm to what is becoming a not to distant reality.

Last year, I attended a conference by Mumbrella – the preeminent conference for attendees seeking the best practices and latest thinking across the media and marketing landscape. I was so excited to listen to speakers discuss a topic I feel so passionate about. But as I sat there, listening to Chris Stephenson, from PHD Worldwide discuss the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), I grew more and more anxious about the future, and particularly, about my career potential.

In a greatly compressed version, Stephenson was discussing the fact that in the next few years, the world as we know it will be completely disrupted due to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Marketers and organizations will no longer be fighting to gain the attention of consumers, but rather with consumer’s Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA), which will be our iPhones and smart phones. These assistants will essentially manage and organize our lives – creating a seamless experience between us and the external world. This assistant will have access to the world and will edit it for us — our sense of what the internet is will dramatically contract from an unfathomably large expanse of information into a simple human voice (Stephenson, 2016).

Stephenson went on to discuss other major disruptions taking place due to IA. Basically, the insight to gain from this intimidating thought is simple. Shit is changing, and in order to stay afloat, you need to stay awake.

I’m here to urge you to stop denying the inevitable, and instead, understand and harness the technological changes before they harness you. I believe it’s important to educate yourself on the technical aspects of these changes – but more importantly, gain an understanding of how the relationship between you and your consumer is changing.

According to an in depth study by Havas, consumers worldwide wouldn’t care if 74% of brands were to disappear, with this figure rising to 94% in the UK. So essentially – a lot of brands aren’t making an impact in the lives of consumers. They may be selling products, and generating revenue, but the moment a brand operating in the same category creates and delivers something that actually resonates – that’s the moment these brands will start to lose.

So what should entrepreneurs be focusing on?

Creating meaningful connections with their target audience. I don’t mean making consumers think you care, but actually caring.

In other words: stop pushing, start listening.

What I’ve seen time and time again with entrepreneurs is their pushy sales nature. They’ve made some money and they want to make some more often at the expensive of operating with integrity. They lack patience and instead focus on the sales component rather than the relationship building aspect of their business far too much. The truth in the matter is – these players don’t last long.

I can understand it’s easy to want more once you receive a small taste of something delicious (hey – it applies to dieting too, it’s the hardest thing to just have ONE cookie) but being greedy in this long-term game can ruin a budding entrepreneur’s ambitions. Instead, study individuals who are forging meaningful relationships with their consumers. Steve Bartlett, Gary Vaynerchuk – these guys are killing the game and exemplifying how their relationship building approach is creating a force to be reckoned with.

I foresee that their long-term, patient strategy will ensure they remain top of mind even once IA becomes common-place in our lives. Because they deliver meaningful value, in ways that other ‘brands’ and businesses simply don’t have the patience to.

I read a quote recently that said “it’s not the best content that wins. It’s the best promoted content”. Now I definitely agree that you need to be smart about how you spend your money – and spending it on social is huge advantage to using traditional forms of marketing.

But without a doubt, to remain relevant in a hyper-competitive industry, you must must must create engaging, innovative content if you’re in it for the long-term. Because while we’re experiencing a paradigmatic technological shift in the world thanks to AI, “innovation and ideas will be more important than ever to win attention and recommendation in the conversations between humans and their assistants” (Stephenson, 2016).

Innovation and creativity will always triumph over BS.

Until next time x

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