I was power-buying at Costco recently when I discovered, situated between the tube sock 12-pack display and the bulk yard fertilizer (enough to fertilize a golf course), a brand-new book: The Age of the Unthinkable, by Joshua Cooper Ramo.
Full disclosure: I haven't finished the book yet, and Ramo seems to have a knack for using a lot of words to not get to the point - but, I find the book intriguing just the same. And, applicable to Postmarketing.
A central concept that Ramo talks about is the unpredictable nature of sandpiles, as studied by a Danish scientist named Per Bak. Bak created sandpile after sandpile, by systematically dropping sand one grain at a time, and then observing at what point a grain of sand dropped and set-off a chain-reaction avalanche that caused the whole pile to disintegrate. His conclusion?There is no way to predict which grain of sand will cause the avalanche, or the extent of the damage.
For Ramo, this is a useful analogy to the seeming chaos of the current geo-political environment, with terrorists, quasi-nation-states, separatist groups and transnational organizations all vying for power. Even with all of the intelligence in the world, there is no way to predict the event that might change everything, or the extent to which any single event will alter the future.
Lest I fall victim to not getting to my point quickly, here it is: the worlds of marketing, social networking, media and technology are being mashed-up in ways that can't be predicted, meaning that the old ways of looking at marketing (like the 4p's) are increasingly irrelevant, and potentially even flawed. One can no longer predict market acceptance, because the grain of sand that causes an avalanche of adoption can't be predicted.
Postmarketers must be scientists (experimental and analytical) and deconstructionists (of existing methods and assumptions) so that they raise their probability of finding the grain that sets-off a chain reaction of adoption.