Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Front Row Vision

Like Bob Uecker "sitting in the front row", you might find yourself one day at majestic Tuscan Hall watching a Wizard weave spellbinding magic with the "Forty-Year Pendulum".

Few presentations are as riveting as Roy H. Williams at Wizard Academy in Austin, TX, illustrating a phenomenon that happens every 40 years where society's attitudes gradually shift in a direction that counters that of the previous generation. In case you missed it, Roy's Monday Morning Memo of December 15, 2003 predicted this current shift would happen, simply by studying patterns of history and connecting clues left by Elvis and Eminem.


In other words, the Wizard of Ads knew six years ago that a pudgy, overpaid veteran slugger called "Hammerin' Hype" was about to go down swinging to a 98 mile-an-hour fastball served up by a skinny, media savvy, left-hander named "Genuine Gen Y".

Few things are more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

In their book, "Generations" William Strauss and Neil Howe contend each generation belongs to one of four types, and these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern spanning between 80 and 100 years. The cycles rotate, starting with an idealist generation, to a reactive one, then a civic-minded generation and finally an adaptive generation, that leads back into an idealist one.

Currently, the Forty-Year Pendulum is taking us from an idealistic society where it was OK to dream, to a more civic-minded world where getting things done is more important. Just don't expect traditional marketing and advertising messages to work the way they did with previous generations.

"Genuine Gen Y" relates to no bullshit, zero hype messages that mock big feeling impostors or weak-kneed, vanilla corporate sheep. They tune out advertising messages that spew "white noise", such as, "Friendly & Knowledgeable Staff", Locally Owned & Operated", "Huge Selection." "Top Quality." "Everyday Low Prices." and "No Obligation, No Money Down and No Salesman Will Call".

Even though these statements may be true in the mind of the person who hands over a check to a media rep, "Genuine Gen Y" stopped buying several years ago. But, cliche-ridden adspeak isn't restricted to the marketing of products and services. Some of the worst offenders are job ads trying to sell "dynamic and rewarding career opportunities" with proclamations of offering "a challenging, fast-paced, results-oriented environment, ideal for positive, self-motivated and energetic multi-tasking team players with pro-active problem-solving abilities, strong communication and computer skills, able to work independently while exceeding customer expectations".

The choice of language has a way of planting seeds of expectations that allow posturing between employer and applicant to begin. Owners, managers and HR professionals who care about attracting top talent will be the leaders who figure out how to speak a new language in much the same fashion as this British consulting firm.

Having been choked by a steady diet of hype, your customer or future employee hungers for statements they can actually believe in. They crave hearing words and feeling emotions that seamlessly link your brand promise to something that actually matters.

Understanding this societal shift is good news for forward thinking visionaries who apply this thinking to their own brand. If you are that type of person, and ready to spend some batting practice to research the implications of the Forty-Year Pendulum, you improve the chances of making solid contact with your customers - both internal and external. Failure to do so and you'll swing and miss with alarming consistency.

Expect more curve balls and high hard ones from "Genuine Gen Y".

Is your brand ready to learn this new language and step up to the plate?

"You can only milk a cow so long, then you're left holding the pail"

Originally posted September 22, 2008

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