Simon Sinek is a well-known British writer, speaker and advisor. He popularized the concept of « Why » in his first Ted Talk in 2009. His success is due to his talent but also to his understanding that we need a sense of purpose in life, in management and in leadership. Entrepreneurship is not new. It started centuries ago and helped build a dynamic society based on innovation and progress. It was supported by an economic system, capitalism, which soon became an ideology. The immense development linked to the industrial revolution led to a massive distortion of the purpose of entrepreneurship. The roots of the process were taken out of the ground and money became the only motivation of business capitalists.
In a society corrupted by money making at any cost, the main reasons to do business became obscure to most actors in the economic process. In giant corporations born out of mega mergers and acquisitions, labor force first, then middle and top managers became ghosts, haunting narrow corridors without any vision except for the short-term profits of investors. Consumers and business customers lost trust and most continue to be suspicious today. Scandals, misbehavior, sometimes proven frauds have led to a climate of mistrust that even affects honest businesses and NGO’s today.
Happily a new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging out of that mess!
Entrepreneurs with values
Generation Y, also called millennials (people born between the beginning of the 80’s and the end of the 90’s) is a generation of people with values; maybe the first since the baby boomers who revolutionized society at the end of the sixties.
Millennials are conscious of their power to change the world! They understand that happiness is different from material possession. They reject the idea that our planet has to be deprived of its natural resources for the so-called well-being of a minority of abundant societies. They’re fed up with unethical behavior and such a corrupted world. They’re not perfect of course but they have ideals and their new leaders believe they can create different businesses, manage different brands and deliver a different value to customers, citizens and partners.
Yes, values create value! And it’s a major hope for the future of this world.
After generation Y, generation Z now follows this trend and younger entrepreneurs now take the opportunity, offered by technology, to leverage their values of freedom, gender equality, combatting global warming, asset sharing, and others. This is the emerging new world that questions the existing marketing discipline.
Is marketing an obsolete discipline ?
It depends on how you interpret the word marketing.
Marketing is a dirty word for many people. It evokes notions of manipulation, dirty tricks and sales of anything to anyone for the sake of making money! That type of marketing should disappear: the sooner the better.
But to those who know about new marketing, this word means something else. It means a set of strategies and techniques aimed at creating and delivering value to a network of partners in order to satisfy their needs, wants and desires.
It’s a tough discipline because customers and other partners are more demanding than ever; because we see the emergence of a strong, global and creative competition and because we need to create trust that is so hard to build. In that sense, marketing needs to be recreated!
I’m not a fan of models! Models are generally used to better conceptualize managers’ thinking but the fact is that most people use models to oversimplify complex phenomena.
I don’t like oversimplification. It’s destructive and dangerous in times of complexity such as those we experience today. We should, on the contrary use our intelligence to fine-tune our approaches to complicated issues.
Marketing has changed a lot over the past 20 years. Many new techniques emerged but mostly in the operational field. For strategic thinking most practitioners rely either on outdated models of the 20th century or they just skip strategy to jump on operations. They believe it’s quicker and more effective. It’s fallacious. When you forget the purpose of your tool there is no point using it.
Strategic marketing has to adapt to our new world as much as operational techniques have.