Archive: marketing

July 9th, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Innovation | Comments Off

Future of water and advertising – a billboard that produces drinking water

Yesterday I had a conversation with John Kenny of the draftFCB Agency. John and I met some time ago when co-presenting to an executive development program. We chatted about the future of marketing and advertising (hey, I’m a huge fan of Madmen). John mentioned that his global firm is moving away from persuasion-based marketing to something that can be called action marketing. That means, do something real, in the actual world, and let viral video do the rest. The example his firm was engaged with blew me away.

There is in Chile and Peru a coastal desert. I’ve been to Lima, which is in that desert. It rains an average of .5 inches a year though the city is next to the sea. The air is quite moist, however, because of the sea. People need clean drinking water, the water is in the air, but it does not fall out. What to do?

The answer came when a technical university, UTEC, needed a marketing campaign. You can read about the project here, but in simple terms what they did was design a highly technical billboard that precipitates and collects water out of the air, and delivers it to tanks built into the structure. Scores of families can obtain weekly drinking water simply by turning the tap a the base of the billboard. Wow. That is future thinking.

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January 30th, 2012 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Five Marketing Technology Tips

I am in Milan for a day-long marketing technology conference where I will be presenting to the event, which is sponsored by Ambrosetti. So I’ve been surveying various material on technology and marketing. According to an online survey, CMOs say tech-savviness is the area of greatest need and opportunity in marketing. It’s becoming more and more valuable to know how to effectively and efficiently use technology in marketing. Here are a few ideas.

1. Content Network Optimization. Search Engine Optimization is great–search marketing reaches more people than Yellow Pages, and allows you to generate targeted leads, but what about optimizing for content? One company, Scienceops, uses their patent-pending algorithms to optimize for content. Contextual marketing is designed to produce data concerned with what the consumer is doing online when they change from a person shopping to a consumer buying. By optimizing for content the marketer gains deeper, extremely relevant, and highly marketable insights into the how, when, and what is needed to make a sale.

2. Approach the new world of technology and marketing with a lot of flexibility and agility in terms of project creation and project management. New applications are coming with lightening speed and today’s hot thing is tomorrow’s big bore, so a rapid pace of change is the norm. It’s frustrating but real to have to keep on such a learning curve.

3. Mobile Advertising. Search Engine Watch notes that “6.8 percent of all U.S. Web traffic occurred from mobile devices.”

4. Plan for the democratization of your brand. That is, the company has less and less control, while those formerly known as consumers (and now known as individual publishers of text and video to the web) have more and more control. So, you have to engage people in a more comprehensive way.

5. Interaction comes before transaction. Each day, the ability of people to interact with each other, with other customers, and with you increases. And each day this interaction takes on greater importance as the precursor to any transaction decision.

For more thoughts on marketing and the future see The future of marketing 2012 and beyond.

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December 16th, 2011 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy | 1 Comment

The Future of Marketing 2012 and Beyond

Recently some clients have asked me to think about marketing, brands, consumers, the new media, technology, and how the new relationships among these elements are changing old enterprise/customer relationships. Fundamentally I think the deepest shift that is going to happen can be captured by asking one important question. Traditionally, one might ask which brands you like, and why? But a more powerful question for the future is, I think, which brands like you and how do you know?

I don’t think there is any question that future buying activity will be driven heavily by economics, that is, who can offer the most affordable quality. But when there is a decision point between brand options, and price is not the key driver, then consumers will increasingly ask whether the brand demonstrates that it cares about its customers. A couple of examples. Starbucks versus local and smaller coffee houses is a choice that many consumers make. Starbucks attempts, mostly with good success, to overcome its gigantic size with a genuine emphasis on being a local third place. Their reputation for good treatment of employees, for providing health insurance for part-time workers, for frequent promotions and giveaways, like their provision of a free drink for every 15 purchases, the free music download cards on the checkout counter, the constant stream of responses to customer concerns on their Facebook and Twitter feeds, all say that, as a brand, we care about you.

For a subset of coffee customers this is not enough. They will choose a local brand, because the very fact of being local and small says to them, this is a brand that can know us and that cares about us (and, they will usually say, tastes better). It is a built-in feature, really, of the whole localization movement applying to local foods, local book stores, and so on. Local should equal caring and if it does not, something is wrong.

Facilitating such shifts in attitudes about brands are all the tools and new assumptions about marketing. Chief among these is the shift of power to consumers – the Net means that customers own the brand and are the primary marketers. The Net is a megaphone for individual customers and their connected devices are all publishing tools now. Probably the most interesting, and even amazing thing about the Web in the past five years has been its metamorphosis from an information-consuming medium to an information-publishing medium for the average user. I think we are just now beginning to grasp what this means, from consumer interactions to revolutions in the public square.

Of course everyone concerned with marketing and brands is wondering where this is all going. Recently Business 2 Community published The Future of Marketing: 46 Experts Share their Predictions for 2012. Here are a few highlights.

“Cross-department and channel collaboration will become more prevalent as marketing coordinates its research, analysis, activities and reporting with other parts of the business.” -Alexis Kingsbury, Global Marketing Director at Spidergap

“Referrals will also be a much higher percentage of successful business marketing because it’s much easier to either recommend or knock companies online using social media and have your message shared.” -Andrew Baird, Chief Freedom Officer at Amazing Business

“Customer data will become more important than ever. Tapping into Facebook’s social graph will allow businesses to access an incredible amount of information…This will be used to take marketing personalization to a whole new level.” -Chris Wise, Director of Marketing at Guideline Central

“Webinars as an educational and marketing platform saw a huge rise in popularity in 2011, and will continue to grow in popularity in 2012.” -Jeremy Gregg, Executive Director at The PLAN Fund

“The importance of viral and shareable content will drive companies and brands to become more creative with their content, replacing the predictable sales pitch with more informative or entertaining material, making the 2012 browsing experience less like opening pages, and more like changing channels.”- Stephen Powers, President and Founder of Rightlook Creative

In Marketing 2020: Shifting the balance between consumers and brands, the blog Nice to be Seen muses about the new skill sets that the future marketing world demands. Based on a gathering of the AMA Atlanta, the author suggests that technology skills, whether in social media or in newer and proprietary means for reaching individual customers will become a basic requirement.

Finally, Laughlin Constable has created a wonderful video that sums up most of the contemporary assumptions about where marketing is going.

The Future of Marketing from Laughlin Constable on Vimeo.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist, author, speaker, consultant, and Founder of To arrange for a speech, workshop or consultation contact

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November 15th, 2011 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Business & Economy | 2 Comments

Retail and the Long-Term Future

Last week I had the opportunity to make several presentations at the headquarters of a large American retailer. I was tasked with making the case for the value of injecting longer-range thinking into the regular planning cycle and with sharing some thoughts about the future of retail on the five-ten year horizon.

My slide show to the monthly executive council is below. I wanted to make three key points:

    1. Even in a fast changing environment, developing long-range foresight can provide a competitive advantage. By long-range I mean a decade or more ahead. The confusion that people get into is thinking the idea is to create a plan for ten years from now. That is futile. What is valuable is to identify the key driving forces that are knowable a decade hence, and then start to either learn about them, prepare for them, or even begin some activity related to them now. An example we discussed, obvious for retail, was the shape of the population in terms of its age groups, something that is perfectly predictable.
    2. On the future of the economy I wanted to make one key argument, a point which I find makes most business audiences cringe. When I published my last book in 2006 I identified barriers to business in the coming decade, and one of those I called out then was the growing wealth divide. For the audience last week I zeroed in on this, attempting to make the case that a mass-retail business based on selling goods to large numbers of people in many big-box locations will not be sustainable if their customer base disappears. A society where the middle-class disappears will not be able to support such retail in the future. Interestingly this retailer opened in 1979, the very peak of the broad middle-class society in the U.S. This is an issue I do not think most business leaders are thinking about in business terms. We think it is a political issue, when it is even more fundamentally a question of what kind of economic society we want to live in.
    3. Third, borrowing a phrase from my friend Gerd Leonhard I described how data is the new oil. This is not news to retail executives, but I emphasized the idea that such data is not only in the numbers and customer tracking, but in the social media space where, for example, style bloggers, are an untapped resource of intelligence and effective marketing.

Here are the slides…

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist author, speaker, consultant, and Founder of To arrange for a speech, workshop or consultationcontact

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