If today’s brands want to survive they need to kick their selfish marketing antics and language to the curb, embrace caring and self-cannibalisation.
Steve Sammartino, serial entrepreneur, said today’s powerful companies, including Google and Amazon, are now more vulnerable to being toppled than any company was in the past.
“The reason for that is that the barriers to entry have been removed forever,” said Sammartino, who was speaking at an event hosted by workshop space The Meadow in Melbourne last night.
“Commercial democracy means that anyone can be entrepreneur…where the major factor of production is connection and code, all you need is the connection,” Sammartino said.
Selfish marketing is killing companies and will continue to do so he warned.
“Selfish companies in a time of revolution go broke. Even though you might be getting revenue today you are out business and you just don’t know it,” he added, using Coles and Woolworths as an example.
It is common practice for retailers to put everyday items in harder to reach places in an attempt to encourage impulse purchases, that’s why the milk is located at the back of supermarkets.
“Its selfish of retailers to put the milk in the back corner…imagine if that was online and Amazon said we are going to make you click here 120 times just in case you see something else you want to buy.”
Within the next two years barcodes will have been replaced with radio frequency identifiers (RFIDs), according to Sammartino. And when that happens Coles and Woolies lives will get really difficult.
“They are going to have 800 white elephants each which they won’t know what to do with in five years time.”
With the rise of RFIDs he painted a picture where an app would tell you what your pantry and fridge are stocked with, letting you know what was running low and generate a shopping list. If a hot day was approaching the list would change to include extra cordial or ice cream for the kids. Google Calender would be able to see you are home on Saturday and organise delivery.
“That is what is coming. And Coles and Woolworths won’t cope with that because your infrastructure determines your operating procedures.”
He also said the idea of category thinking is “totally broken”. “If you think that you are competing in a category that’s a broken idea when everything is digital and moving.”
Other examples of selfish marketing include the record industry, instead of innovating it saw the push into digital as self-cannibalisation thereby leaving the space open for iTunes, Spotify and the like.
Kodak’s downfall was another example of self-interested marketing.
In December last year, Kodak sold around 1,000 digital imaging and processing patents to a consortium of tech giants, including Apple, Google and Facebook, for $525 million.
“Kodak owned all of the patents in your smartphone, every single one. The reason they didn’t want to put any of them out there is because they didn’t want to self-cannibalise with digital photography.”
“As late as 2004 they releases a camera which plugged onto a printer because they were so addicted to the idea of ‘we want people to print stuff on expensive paper’.
“That is what they wanted. They didn’t give a shit about what we wanted.”
In addition to focusing on what the customer wants, Sammartino said marketers need to update how they refer to their clients.
“Consumer. Horrible word. You know what consumes? Pond scum. That consumes. Plankton consumes, not me. I’m a human, with human emotions.”
‘Targets’ is another term often used by marketers he took issue with.
“Targets get shot at. I’ll be part of an audience. I won’t be anyone’s target but I will certainly be part of an audience. Isn’t that a better way to talk about the people we do business with?”
Cannibalisation is a word companies need to embrace as canabalising your own products drive things forwards and leaves less gap for start-ups to take market share.
The television roadblock is “horrible” and is a relic of the interruption marketing era. The average weight of purchase (AWOP) metric is also too focused on what the corporate wants as is driving purchase frequency, he said.
Brand loyally is “inside out” he argued, instead of brands complaining about promiscuous customers brands need to be loyal to their fans: “If I had a company I would say ‘what can I do to be loyal to the people who give me money?’”
On ‘household penetration’ he simply said: “sounds like porn”. He also labelled gross domestic product (GDP) a “horrible measure” as it fails to take into consideration the state of the environment, happiness or education.
In a connected world where niche has pride of place the time for creating one size fits all products is coming to an end.