High-velocity marketing: it’s coming your way and it’s got your company’s name on it.

High-velocity marketing: it’s coming your way and it’s got your

company’s name on it.

There’s a graph that marketing people use to show how the world is

speeding up. It shows how it took about 80 years for cars to reach most

of the population, 40 years for telephones and 20 years for TVs. And so,

in the 80s and 90s we find mobile phones taking ten years, the internet

taking pretty close to five years before it hit the masses and who knows

which of the latest gizmos is poised to do this in even less time.

So much, so familiar.

But have you noticed how exactly the same pattern is appearing for


Recent evidence for this comes from the Henley Centre’s ’Planning for

Social Change’ report, which shows some very new brands becoming very

trustworthy very quickly.

Earlier this century it would have taken at least a generation to build

consumer trust, to create a Heinz, a Boots or a Kellogg’s. More

recently, you could achieve this in less than 20 years as Virgin and

Body Shop have shown. According to the Henley Centre, Gap has got there

in around ten years and Yahoo! in about five.

So the adoption of new technology and the adoption of new brands is

speeding up. You can draw the same graphs for each.

Now the reason why marketing people get out the ’technology adoption’

graph is to try to spur innovation in the rest of the organisation.

’Look how the world is changing! We have got to get more nimble! We must

change the way we do business!’ is the message.

All very true, but is marketing itself changing enough?

Are many people still using marketing methods from the industrial age,

while others have realised that brand management needs to speed up just

as technology is speeding up? After all, marketing is a 20th-century

invention that grew alongside industrial mass-production methods and new

broadcast technologies. Modern marketing, despite its increasing

sophistication, is still an industrial mind-set.

So it would seem that these new high-velocity marketers are using new

methods for a new age. They don’t use research as illumination or

support but as fuel for their entrepreneurial minds.

They have financial models based on ’asset creation’ rather than

’discount cash flow’. And, perhaps most tellingly, they get organically

close to their consumers rather than relying on conventional

’mechanical’ evaluation.

But is this an ’e-thing’ or an ’everything thing’? Does all brand

management need to speed up or are these special cases heavily affected

by the e-revolution?

Well, place your bets and may the best marketer win. But my money is on

the small furry mammals and not on the big lumbering dinosaurs.

And if you want do a personal survey, talk to your ancient Jurassic

parents and see which technologies they have adopted recently (any

takers for ’cyber-seniors’?). And then ask them which bright-eyed,

bushy-tailed brands they are getting into.

Jon Leach is a partner at HHCL & Partners.

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