Peasants during the French Revolution remind corporate moguls how to think.

"This is not an evolution, this is a revolution. In a revolution, kings and queens lose their heads; think like a peasant."

Things are different than before when it comes to our "go-to-market" plan of action. We know this means we must do things differently. It's just that we tend to think it's "other things, not these things, we must do differently." We talk about change, and we do the same thing.

At what risk?

  • The downturn changed things (policy and regulation) ...
  • Apple changed things (design) ...
  • Social changed things (word of mouth) ...
  • Demographics changed things (household formation patterns)...
  • Wall Street capital changed things (algorithms decide) ...
  • Building science changed things (air, vapor, moisture management)...
  • Big Data changed things ... (purchases are predictable)
  • BIM changed things ... (waste is optional)

What "things" did these phenomena change?

What they changed among other things is, profoundly, how we buy.

In the mid-1990s, I covered consumer marketing companies as the editor of BrandWeek, which as you might infer from its name, was a weekly magazine about brands. In my travels then, I ran into a guy names Rishad Tobbacowala, and he was one of the smartest people I ever met in advertising. He'd risen out of the account ranks at Leo Burnett during the 1980s by the the early 1990s, he was regarded by many as a full-on genius.

This may account for the fact that today, Rishad is Chief Strategist, Member of Directoire+ at Publicis Groupe. It was Rishad who, in October 1994, among advertising, marketing, and media's elite VIPs, said that they'd better get used to chaos, because chaos was going to be standard operating procedure in media and marketing. He said:

"This is not an evolution, this is a revolution. In a revolution, kings and queens lose their heads; think like a peasant."

This is when the kings and queens were Time Warner, AOL, the media empires, the cash-cow newspapers, the mighty brands, AT&T, Kodak, IBM, General Motors.

This is when dial-up Hayes smart modems were still how most of us accessed the internet at home.

Was Tabbacowala right?

He's still right. And not just about media.

Check out Andrew Davis's "content marketing" spiel here. He blends equal parts "Who Moved My Cheese?" Robin Williams, and Freud into a stream of consciousness outpouring, all about meatloaf, or Meat Loaf, ... or you substitute your new home model, or product, or tech service here.

You see, the "funnel" marketers have long banked on is no longer. The process from "consideration" to "purchase" is no longer linear as it once may have been.

Traditional marketing funnel assumes people think and act in a linear way.

We don't buy anything the way we once did. We are motivated, and we research, and we free-associate, and we sound others out, and we accept, reject, move on, forget about, and eventually act on our purchase through an entirely new kind of decision chain.

Many, many go-to-market planners and plans forget that. Or never thought about it.

The way to remember it, and act on it, is to get away from preoccupying yourself with who and what you are and think about who and what "they are." They are your customer.

Rishad's comment on media and Davis's story of meat are neither exclusively about media nor meat. They're about how people who need what they need will rule markets.

Your go-to-market needs to be their ask-me-for-my-permission to tell me your story.