Our world is changing all of the time. It’s exciting. These changes create new space to explore and new opportunities for growth and improvement. Like everything else, our economic world is in a constant state of flux too. Businessmen and entrepreneurs are rowing down an endless stream of ideas and innovation. Their aims are not only to make money, but to improve the world in a way the relates to real people like you and me.
In just one or two centuries, which is a tiny sliver of the world’s entire history, we have made incredible improvements in technology, medicine, entertainment, art, and culture. Most of us wouldn’t even be able to bear the burden and suffering of living a hundred years ago compared to the luxuries we have today in the form of TVs, computers, and iPods.
However, don’t feel guilty about it, our children’s children will feel the same way when they look back on how we grew up. Such is the perplexing world of human progress.
Subjects like business and economics really fascinate me. I spend about half of my waking day reading about the latest developments, following new trends, and daydreaming on what the future has in store. There is a shift in paradigm occurring, and in this post I want to touch on “five demands” that I think are very telling about where successfully businesses are heading.
No, I don’t predict a complete death of brick-and-mortar businesses, but there is definitely a new business arena being built around the online world and it is getting bigger and bigger everyday. In particular, information-based products and services are migrating in herds to online businesses and blogs. Entrepreneurs are now selling e-books, webinars, and online courses that are just as valuable to customers as hardcovers and “real-life” lectures. In fact, Amazon reported earlier this year that it is now selling more e-books than hardcover books. This can be attributed to a couple of reasons: digital products are often cheaper and more convenient. Now instead of carrying 2 or 3 books onto a plane, all we need is an iPad or Kindle.
While the dot-com bubble may have tried to push online business into a premature birth, we are definitely going to see a continuing shift in this direction long-term.
The economy is becoming so competitive in some industries that effective marketing is no longer just a “numbers game.” Instead it is about connecting with customers and clients in meaningful ways. This entails building friendships with others by adopting the culture of our target audience – seeing the world through their eyes – or what is often called “empathy.” The book Wired To Care by business connoisseur Dev Patnaik illustrates this point in a variety of case studies by showing how entrepreneurs who walk in the shoes of their clients almost always create a fool-proof model for success and longevity.
Every profession requires some degree of creativity, whether it be engineering, scientific research, architecture, design, education, art, music, or entertainment. The process of creativity is to take pre-existing elements and integrate them in a way that has never been done before, along with the aim to improve past conditions. Some may argue that creativity is the source of all innovation and improvement. There is a great article at Lateral Action called “The Rise of the Creative Economy” which really drives this point home. One part states:
- “While data and knowledge are important resources, the creative economy represents a significant development from the familiar idea of the knowledge economy. The key difference is that in the creative economy it is not enough to store, process or analyse information – it must be creatively transformed into something new and valuable.”
Don’t confuse an attitude of abundance for some new-agey, Law of Attraction-esque gibberish. This isn’t about visualizing what you want until you get it, but acting resourcefully with a giver’s mentality. In Chris Anderson’s book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” Anderson counts the ways that giving away free content can help boost your business and build up your tribe. He argues that many individuals under the age of 30 aren’t used to paying for digital information when they know they can find it somewhere online for free. By tapping into this demand you can attract and maintain a loyal audience over time while building paid premiums as you go along. Have some avenue of free content, whether it be a blog, e-book, audio lecture, video series, etc. This will let your audience know that you aren’t the type of person who will strangle every cent out of them – you care about your non-paying fans just as much as you care about your paying fans. If you do it right, this can be very effective marketing. However, keep in mind that there are some caveats to this approach and some, like Gary Vaynerchuck, are now saying the economy may be moving away from this model.
What does story-telling have to do with business if you aren’t an author? Well, a whole lot if you ask entrepreneur Michael Margolis. In his interview at Rise To The Top, Michael explains how every successful organization needs to have a narrative that captivates its community and fans. Marketing is no longer about mind tactics, manipulation, or persuasion, it is about telling a story that people can relate to and take part in. If you have a business, ask yourself, “What story does my business tell? What are the dynamics, the conflict, and the resolution?”
Did you enjoy this article? Learn more about psychology and self-improvement in my new e-book The Science of Self Improvement.