Understanding what we’re asking for

How can we ask people to do something we won’t do ourselves? As marketers, our job is to change people’s behavior, lifestyle, thought process and perceptions. Understanding how difficult change can be for humans in general may help us connect with our audience more realistically and create a more meaningful reason or platform for change.

Ariane de Bonvoison has made some big leaps – she’s left executive positions at Sony and Time Warner, ended a relationship with one of People magazine’s “America’s Top 50 Bachelors”, taken two years off from the corporate world and created a business that makes a difference in people’s lives.

These decisions and life experiences led her to create First 30 Days– a company that helps people through the initial stage of more than 60 life changes.

Ariane realized that if the one constant in life is change, why is it that change is still so hard for us? She says we’re really much better at it than we think.

“We have a change muscle that just needs to be worked. People are obsessed with their job resume, but assess your change resume – who you are today is a combination of all the changes you’ve had to face in your life and the ones you’ve initiated. You’ve already made dozens of changes, you just haven’t acknowledged yourself for that.”

Ariane’s willingness to face uncertainty and ability to shift our perspective regarding change is inspiring and a much-needed skillset in today’s turbulent environment. We need role models who’ve stepped outside their comfort zone, taken the different path and are providing tools to help us live more authentically.

Read Ariane’s T&C article, watch her discuss Making Big Leaps on “BusinessWeek.com and visit her web site at www.first30days.com to learn more about our struggle with change.

Ten Trends for the Near Future

Marian Salzman, named one of the top 5 futurists in the world, (credited with popularizing “metrosexuality”) lists the following trends for the near future. Among them she says, “In this new world of user-generated content, online communities and proliferating social networks, word of mouth is amplified and authenticity rules.”

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The End… Empathy.. and The New Rules of Engagement

Every year, leading future-focused Trend consultancy Faith Popcorn”s BrainReserve studies consumer thought processes and predicts their behavior with amazing accuracy. She calls 2009 the year marked by unprecedented fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. “This is not a momentary correction, nor a down cycle-it”s the end of the world as we know it. What we”ll be deciding in 2009 is whether we”ll simply succumb, or whether through a new set of Rules of Engagement, we”ll find a new way to set our priorities.”

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Square pegs will save this sinking ship

Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life admits his book published in 2003 was unfortunately lumped into the “Modern Dream Machine Industry” – where media companies make a killing “selling transformation irresponsibly.” If you haven’t read his book because the last step-by-step-guide-to-finding-your-passion left you even more confused and desperate, start with this Fast Company article. Bronson puts things in perspective with a more grounded approach than the typical Do What You Love spiel. While our faith has been shaken in corporate America most of us will suck it up and stay at jobs we don’t like, grateful to have one. Or, we’ll wait and see what the next “hot opportunity” is (just like we did with dot.coms and the mortgage industry) without ever pausing to consider who we want to “become”.

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Curves, shifts and crisis – barriers making us better

As a marketer and reluctant, Optimist, I’m intrigued and inspired by the changes technology, the economy and our mindset are forcing us to deal with. While we used to be able to push through and just do what everyone else is doing, genuine barriers like

– learning curves (the blog’s up, now what am I going to say?),
– power shifts (media to corporate; corporate to consumer),
– identity crisis (you can’t fake it anymore)

are forcing us to reflect on who we want to be, how we market and how we engage our targets (also known as “humans”).

While change is hard, regardless of experience or budget, embracing instead of resisting it can create some pretty great realities. Here are just a few:

1. Opportunity. Anyone can participate regardless of budget or size.
2. It’s not about you. It’s about them. You have to care. Genuinely.
3. Creativity and individuality are considered good things.
4. Forced reflection vs typical reaction. Those jumping on the bandwagon without a true strategy will struggle. Another opportunity for differentiation.
5. It lets others sell for you. And isn’t that so much more powerful (and rewarding) than having to sell yourself?
6. The bright light it’s shining on the need for meaningful marketing content. Everyone has it, you just have to uncover and unleash it.

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