The Power of Humanity

Fourth in a series analyzing seven new economy trends

One of the most thrilling aspects of my work is the opportunity to speak daily with leaders I respect in fields that cross the business spectrum. I never pass on the chance to ask how the economic recession is affecting their business and what they see happening in coming months.

Each answers differently, but together they form a chorus. Of late there has been a song in a slightly different key.

“It’s still tough. But people have grown tired of the recession. I feel movement again. I am hopeful.” Like these professionals, many of whom are entrepreneurs, I feel my own optimism is at work. I am deeply ready for things to change.

And yet I caution us all. We must remember nearly one in ten Americans is out of work and millions more have had their salaries cut. Uninsured rates are skyrocketing, and record numbers of people are behind on or unable to pay their mortgages. The reality of daily life for countless families is a painful one, and a cavalier attitude by marketers who simply lose patience will result in marketing’s greatest peril: a recognition by the customer that the marketer is out of touch. It’s a chasm that can never again be forded.

Instead, really listen to your customer. Uncover a need that may well have developed—or at least moved to the forefront—in the most recent weeks of this downturn. Then find a way to meet that need with an evolved product or new service. (Be open to the possibility that what your customer needs right now is quite elemental.)

As we move into the New Reality of this Great Restructuring, brands that are both intentional and grounded in the human condition will survive and ultimately flourish. (TM’s new Nationwide work is a great example.)

Up Next: The Power of Purpose