Futurologist: You’d Be Better Off Marketing To Stoners

Futurologist: You’d Be Better Off Marketing To Stoners

Today’s connected consumer is a harder target to hit than a joint toking stoner. So said eccentric and spirited Austrian futurologist Dietmar Dahmen at Sydney’s Sitecore conference yesterday.

Dahmen quoted a recent study to highlight the point. He said: “Half the room is given a mobile device, the other half are given a joint to smoke. The half with marijuana were more focused and able to multitask than those on their mobile.”

For marketers, mobile devices might be the greatest godsend or the worst enemy. And Dahmen added that timing is everything.

“Being there with the right message at the right time is priceless, being there with the wrong message at the wrong time is disastrous,” he said. But insists messaging that’s too personal becomes creepy. “You can be too personal, but you can never be too relevant. Relevance isn’t necessarily being personal, relevance is simply giving someone the right information at the right time,” explained Dahmen.

In order for marketers to deliver relevant messages to their consumers, they must embrace technological change. Throughout the seminar, Dahmen made specific references to the benefits of staying ahead of the pack with wearables, NFC, iBeacons and sensors – and how such technology provides intimate data which can be used to individualise marketing to specific consumers.

“If you rob a bank with Google Glass, that’s really good. You’re already a step ahead which means the others are a step behind,” said the futurologist. In fact, robbers have found great value in stealing Google Glass.

Dahmen explained that people base purchasing decisions on emotion. “The strongest link to your customer is emotion.”

“Technology is not the emotional connection but facilitates the emotional connection,” he said. The Austrian futurologist recommends putting the customer in the centre and organising the experience around the customer not the screen. “The emotional bond needs a screen, but only because the emotional bond needs presence – you need to be there.”

So when do marketers need to be there, exactly? Now, said Dahmen.

“Now – as you all know as marketeers is very, very effective. If you have something that is time sensitive – like a sale that ends today. It’s up to 500% more effective than if the low price is constant,” said Dahmen. “How now is now? Now is really quick – Boom! 400 milliseconds,” he added. It’s the time it takes to know whether you should “fight or flee” or the time it takes to like or dislike something –  it’s the time it takes a person to develop an an emotional response to something.

And the modern day description for why people respond urgently to the now – well, that’s easy, it’s FOMO. “We take out our phones 150 times per day. We want to share our experiences with our friends, even when we’re in the moment. We’re the most distracted society of all time. Constantly distracted by our devices,” said Dahmen.

The other thing that is relevant is the opinions of others. Humans find security in what Dahmen calls “peer-surance”- if you’re peers like it, you’ll like it. If they don’t like it, you probably won’t either. “47% of people trust advertising according to Nielsen, while 92% trust other people,” he said.

Dahmen referenced a study of identical coat hangers sold on ebay for the same price. “The study revealed that the hangers which were rated five star outperformed the lower rated hangers by 800%,” he said.

75% OF CMOs believe there’s been more change in the past 2 years than the last 50. And over 50% of those CMOs don’t feel in control anymore.

“The more data they have about their customer, the more removed they feel from that customer. That’s why it’s important to feel the customer again,” said Dahmen.

Technology has never remained static. “In 1870, the world belonged to cans. Everything was preserved in a can cans, cans, cans, cans, cans – then in the 1930s, the world belonged to ice. Block ice was delivered and you had wooden boxes to put the ice in. The 1950s – the world belonged to the fridge, everybody had an electric fridge. My question to you is: How many can producers moved into ice?  None. How many ice producers moved into refrigerators? None.”

Dahmen argues that many are guilty of saying, “Oh look! Another one of those idiots with Google Glass. Hahaha – that will never go anywhere.”

“We see it happening. We saw mobile coming and so many companies didn’t even consider implementing a mobile strategy. Their websites weren’t mobile optimised. They all saw it happen but they didn’t act,” suggested Dahmen.

Why? Because humans are intrinsically lazy. Dahmen said: “Generally, we all fear change and science suggests we like to be doing the same thing over again. Which means we’re lazy.” For consumers, laziness is especially relevant. “It comes down to how hard the consumer has to work to get something – it’s called access cost… If your website is too complicated and requires high mental cost, consumers will switch off,” revealed the futurologist.

If you don’t adapt to a low access cost, you’ll die.

Human life needs adaptation and business life needs adaptation. Charles Darwin said: “It’s not the strongest, nor the most intelligent that will survive, but those that are most responsive to change.”

“If you have an idea, you’re blind to the better idea. Like the bee, the bee only sees the one way out. It’s unable to consider a better option.” “You have to unlearn the old to then learn the new – and we hate that change. If we do need to learn, we copy what already exists using our mirror neurons – it’s in nature, we love copying things,” says Dahmen

William Bernbach, an American advertising creative director and one of the founders of DDB said: “Rules are what we break, the memorable never emerged from a formula.”

“Who breaks rules?,” asked Dahmen. “Outlaws!” (which is probably why the robbers embrace Google Glass.) “If you’re a victim on the other side, you’re passive, you excuse yourself rather than get the job done,” he said.

“The mobile revolution is here and was demanded by the users,” said Dahmen. Facebook was not mobile and users demanded the social media giant go mobile. “62% of the ad revenue (for Facebook) is from mobile. If you don’t go mobile, you’re neglecting what the customer wishes,” he added.


Old advertising was mass oriented and with high reach but low relevance. “A big poster with lots of people in front of it.” Today, advertising is low reach but extremely high relevance. Dahmen beseeched the audience. He said: “Be more individual, more relevant. Less like a book and more like a letter.  A book is written for a general audience but a letter is very personal and very individual.” He called it “the narcissim of marketing”.


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