Worlds Without Maps

Why is social media of interest to businesses right now? The answer is simple: it’s what the people are doing. Who benefits the most from connecting with people via these channels? Companies who adapt to the new territory, who use the new tools accordingly, and who strive for human connections over traditional marketing capture/conversion. The trick of it all? This is a world without maps. Your old maps don’t work. This is a space where new ideas often trump the old, and where purpose/intent matter more than tradition.

You’re New Here

In business, we are all new again. All the major car companies can’t assume anything about their customers. Banks aren’t guaranteed to be there forever. Cornerstone institutions are rolling up, sailing away, moving into new modes that don’t benefit us any more. We can’t count on anything. Oh, and on the business side, your customers are losing jobs, merging, consolidating, changing the rules.

Accept that you’re new here. What do you need? You need eyes, ears, intuition, intent, and anthropology.

Your Eyes And Ears

Listening tools abound. You can now see people’s intentions writ large on these various social networks. No, not everyone is out there voicing their opinions, but you can start with the people who are. Use the searching tools to see what people are saying on blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook. Listen around in forums. Google yourself blue. And then process this.

Listening is deafness if you do nothing with it.

Intuition

Want to change the world? Ask thousands of questions. Ask the same handful of questions thousands of times. Ask yourself, “How can I help my customers during these tough times?” Toyota is giving free maintenance for two years as a way to win back sales and customers. It’s a solution that will benefit both sides of the equation. How is your bank treating you during these economic woes? What have you said about it? What will you do?

Intuition about what others need is a powerful tool in this world without maps.

Intent

Do you really care about your customers/prospects? If not, it will show. Do you value them? Show it. Demonstrate it with intent. Make decisions that don’t always benefit you as much as they do the customer. You don’t have to sink the business, but just by showing more intentions to the positive of your customers, you’ll win more opportunity.

What do your actions say about your intent?

Anthropology

You’re looking to better understand the social and cultural development of humans. It’s all we have left, because all the history we had attached to us before has shaken itself off, or it’s clinging to our backs like a prison.

Why are we sending kids to schools that train them to be industrial cogs? What are we doing to help them rebel? How are we reshaping the world, now that the unit of measure is knowledge/information? In a world where we don’t all have to work side by side in a factory, why are we building so many offices?

If you dig into this area, if you start looking for new trends, whispers of what curves are coming next, you see the big stuff. You see the boomer generation growing huge. You see India taking over the creative side of the stick to go along with their dominance of engineering and process management. You see shifts in who’s spending, where we’re paying attention, and more.

This one’s the biggest to consider in that world without maps. Because we need to understand the people more than we need to understand the systems. If you’re trying to re-rig your marketing tech to account for these new territories, you’re wasting time by not starting with understanding the shifts in what humans want/need/are moving towards.

Is This Crazy Talk?

Anyone who just nodded yes, I’ll see you a few years from now and we can talk more. Those of you who get a glimpse of this, who see that we’ve got a new opportunity to really take meaningful action, let’s work in that direction.

What’s your first move? What have you already been doing? What will you do next?

Without maps, where will the lay of the land take you?

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  • http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/ Dan York

    Enjoyable and inspirational post, Chris. Thanks for keeping on prodding us to step outside the daily routine and think a bit more about larger issues. :-)

  • http://pl.linkedin.com/in/ivanhernandez Ivan Hernandez

    Remarkable post Chris.

  • andrewcareaga

    Terrific insights, as usual. I have just one quibble: your discussion about “intuition” is more a discussion about “data-gathering” (i.e., asking lots of questions), although an intuitive approach to creating the right questions to ask is probably pretty important.

    I'm excited about this world without maps. What we need are gyroscopes!

  • http://alidavies.com/ Ali Davies

    I like the positive spin on your post. In this new economic situation a new world is emerging and there are opportunites everywhere – yet so many seem to be focussed on banging on about the doom and gloom. It is time to lift our heads and look around and, as you quite rightly say, if we ask the important powerful questions, the sky's the limit.

  • clayhebert

    These huge industries (music, newspapers, magazines) and companies (AOL, GM) that thing they have a God-given right to exist.

    Pharma companies alone will have lost $167 billion from 2008 – 2011….there aren't any blockbusters in the pipeline and STILL most pharma execs have their hands over their ears singing the “LAA-LAA this is not happening” song of intentional ignorance. The smart ones, interestingly enough, are becoming like bio-pharma and bio-tech companies, developing drugs for much smaller patient communities. The extreme end of that spectrum is a drug developed specifically for ONE person. Imagine ChrisBrogan-itol. It's not out of the realm of possibility and the parallel to the larger paradigm shift is interesting.

    Keep leading, brother.

  • timbrownson

    Interesting what you say about banks Chris. I recently made a huge blunder by transferring some money the wrong way from my SunTrust to my PayPal account rather than vice versa. Consequently I went overdrawn for 36 hours. In that time SunTrust hit me for $450 worth of charges. One Starbucks coffee cost me $42!

    My branch wouldn't do anything and eventually I spoke to my area manager. (Now bear in mind 2 years earlier THEY had screwed up my merchants account and it cost me about a days work and I didn't get any recompense.) I apologized, said it was 100% my fault and asked if they could help a loyal customer out.

    No they couldn't do anything other than offer $75.

    The net result was I moved accounts to 5th 3rd. So they lost my personal account and my business account. They also lost the How To Be Rich and Happy account when we opened that shortly after, and for what?

    Yeh they got to keep the $450, but they missed an opportunity to turn me into a rabid fan and made that money back 100x over during the next decade. Even sharing the loss 50/50 would have retrained my business.

    The flip side was Progressive Insurance phoning me up to say they didn't know I had a US driving license and that lowered the premium. Not only that but they backdated it almost 2 years and apologized profusely.

    You could wave the cutest Gecko the world has even known under my nose and offer $100 inducement and I wouldn't move from Progressive.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    After visiting England, did you feel that Social Media is expressed/valued differently than in the US?

  • cindydonaldson

    Chris,
    Great post and so true. Those that lag perhaps will lose.
    CD

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  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    And there are SO MANY stories like this. I'm glad you shared.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    It's because I love you and want you to succeed, Dan.

  • http://ksoliv.blogspot.com/ Kleber Oliveira

    Maps are very good to see where other people has already gone. On the other hand, Terra Incognita is a very hard concept to grasp and apply, but is where most rewards are. Meanwhile listening may open our eyes for unmapped opportunities. Such as customize products for customers. Not to be more of the same, but to make a difference. This difference is what we should figure out, not the similarities.

  • http://twitter.com/balemar Beatriz Alemar

    Chris,

    FINALLY! Someone understand the importance of anthropology to marketing. As a dual major in both marketing and anthropology, I would always have to explain how marketing and anthropology worked in sync with each other. I've always felt the holistic approach that my anthropological training provided has helped me be able to identify trends and see how they impact the bigger picture. You can't have effective marketing campaigns if you don't understand how cultural and societal trends will impact society in the long run.

    Thank you for just getting it!

  • http://notjustlistening.com/ tammymcdaniel

    I want a map. Do I get that at Third Tribe? ;-) :-))

  • dahlpil

    Spot on on the anthropology, all these social media tools are useless unless you can understand and connect with your customers.

  • http://www.enigmawellness.com/ Pixie Stevenson

    Nice post, Chris. I like that you are so successful and real.

  • hulbert

    Nice post Chris. I like this analogy of the world without maps to doing business without a traditional marketing strategy. To be honest, I think it's a lot more exciting and adventurous. When we get out there, learn from people, and adapt to what they want, it's a lot more effective than forcing people to buy into your idea.

  • http://www.suzemuse.com/ Susan Murphy

    What's interesting is that we are conditioned our whole lives to need maps – to be spoon fed the directions every step of the way. Go to school, listen to your teachers, get a job, listen to your boss, buy a house, listen to the bank, get married and have kids, listen to your mother….we are given the directions all the way through. We grow to expect them, and many aren't sure how to exist outside of that.

    It's those of us who are willing to break the conditioning and throw out the directions who are going to advance the industry. And you're right. That starts with teaching differently, as employers, parents (or Aunts and Uncles), and educators. Throw away the map, it's a whole new world. Cheers to that.

  • http://www.teamandadream.com/ Skip @skipshoe Shuda

    Chris – great post. We are co-creating new maps of new territory everyday. One of the things I've really appreciated about your conversations is that you ask great questions. Great questions help us to feel out the landscape of memes, perspectives and collectives.

    Ultimately, everyone needs to understand “What is the vibe of your tribe?”

    I'm a big fan of Ken Wilber's Integral Theory model (aka AQAL). If you don't know his work, its informed by psychology, anthropology, systems theory and more. Its a sort of unified theory of human perspectives – and perfect for exploring today's emerging social networks.

    Anyone interested in maps of human perspectives can find related resources at:
    http://www.pixel-ink-design.com/AQAL-integral-m… (graphical overview)
    http://integrallife.com/learn/overview/essentia… (a free online overview)

    Keep the fire burning!

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  • http://mccallumsolutions.com Tom McCallum

    Love it, such a well written and insightful blog. Simply put.. no maps, so use gut feel / intuition…ie the benefit of a lifetime of experience.

    One profound impact of social media is that is has the ability to compress / speed up the acquisition of that experience.. if you truly use it to both listen and interact

  • larryirons

    Boomer generation growing huge, yes…and how many agencies have any interest in employing anyone over 40, or even 30 years of age to actually develop understanding of their habitus and dispositions? Are we going to hire Indian anthropologists to study American boomers? Think man, think…

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