Tag Archive for 'Megatrends'

When trust is a best practice, profit margins increase

Few contemporary prophecies have stood the test of time better than this one by John Naisbitt, from his 1982 watershed book, Megatrends: “The more high-tech, the more high-touch.” I call that, “Naisbitt’s Razor.”

The reason for Naisbitt’s accuracy is simple: High tech, by definition, means digital. But you and I are not the least bit digital; we’re 100% analog. And our analog nature manifests as a desire to connect with - or as Naisbitt says, “touch” - other humans. So the value of touch increases proportionally with the increase in the velocity of our lives.

Digital is fast; analog is not. We may transport ourselves virtually at the speed of digital, but once there, we touch -eye, ear, hand - at the speed of analog. So how do we reconcile the fact that as high-tech consumers who desire and eagerly adopt each new generation of digital, we’re still, and will always be, analog beings? One word: trust.

Nothing is more capable of accelerating with high-tech while simultaneously governing down to high-touch than trust. Naisbitt didn’t directly address the concept of trust in his book. But I interviewed him twice on my radio program and I think he wouldn’t mind if I expanded his razor to: The more high-tech we have, the more imperative trust becomes.

In another of my favorite books, Built On Trust, by co-author and frequent guest on my radio program, Arky Ciancutti, M.D., I found this: “We are a society in search of trust. The less we find it, the more precious it becomes.” For millennia, customers did business with the same businesses because they wanted to deal with the same people. We trusted the people first and the company second. In an era where erosion of the high touch of trust is often lamented by customers and employees, there are still places where it not only exists, but was actually born. Where, in contrast to the rest of the contemporary marketplace, trust is still found in abundance. Those places are almost all on Main Street in the form of small businesses.

With trust now more precious than ever, build the foundation of your small business’s culture on it. And when you can deliver on trust as your North Star, you’ve earned the right to go to market with it. Here’s an example:  Reveal the combined industry tenures of your leadership team (101 years), or the average tenure of your staff (18 years). When prospects see those numbers, they hear T-R-U-S-T.

In one interview on my show, Arky said, “An organization in which people earn one another’s trust, and commands trust from customers, has an advantage.” Since contemplating that, I’ve maintained that being devoted to trust is not only the right thing to do, it’s a business best practice. Let me explain.

As the velocity of the digital marketplace increases, our business has to move faster, and our stakeholders - employees, vendors, etc. - have to keep up. As one of my vendors, if I can trust you to keep up, that’s a relevance value worth more to me than the competitive price of a low-bidder I don’t know. You just converted trust into higher margins.

In the greater marketplace, where devotion to trust is no longer ubiquitous, small businesses have been handed a rare gift. And all they have to do to claim it is create and leverage the relevance advantage Arky means when he says, “The advantage trust gives your organization is there for the taking, waiting to be harvested. It’s not even low-hanging fruit. It’s lying on the ground.”

You may have heard me say that the Price War is over and small business lost. Well, the Trust War is on, and small business is winning.

Write this on a rock … To claim that victory you must operate at the speed of trust.

There’s an app for high tech, not high touch

“There’s an app for that.”

This marketing slogan refers to a mobile app. A mobile app converts content and resources that otherwise would have been consumed through a browser on a computer desktop, to the much smaller and variably shaped screens on the many different kinds of hand-held devices. Mobile apps are proliferating because they are almost always handier and sexier than their website counterparts.

In 1998, broadband Internet connection was in less than 4% of households and almost no businesses. Reporting on this emerging capability, I made the macro prediction that the world would change when broadband Internet became ubiquitous and broadly adopted. Well, broadband ubiquity, today thy name is mobile. The proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks we know as 3G and 4G, has spawned mobile apps which are at once exciting and disruptive.

In 1998, broadband Internet connection was in less than 4% of households and almost no businesses. Reporting on this emerging capability, I made the macro prediction that the world would change when broadband Internet became ubiquitous and broadly adopted. Well, broadband ubiquity, today thy name is mobile. The proliferation of WiFi and mobile networks we know as 3G and 4G, has spawned mobile apps which are at once exciting and disruptive.

A generation before my broadband prognostication, a real prophet, John Naisbitt, published his landmark book, Megatrends, in which he prophesied, “The more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want.” In the 21st century, Naisbitt’s Law, balance technology and humanity, must be the North Star for any successful small business strategy.

So, how does a small business maintain a competitive advantage in the face of pressure from high tech innovation and the primordial human desire for high touch connection? The answer, as with so many 21st century questions, is not either/or, but both/and.

If you want customers to keep your business at their fingertips wherever they are, there’s an app for that. If a customer relationship would benefit from a welcoming smile, there is no app for that.

If a product tutorial video posted on your YouTube channel would help a customer in the field, there’s an app for that. To be able to interpret the troubled look on the face of a customer as a clue that you haven’t yet healed their pain, there is no app for that.

If customers want to check the status of an order they placed with you, whenever and wherever they are, a mobile app can be built for that. If customers do business with you because you remember their face, name and what they like, there is no app for that.

Remember Naisbitt’s Law: Blend and balance the power of high-tech with the humanity of high-touch.

There’s an app for high tech, but there isn’t one for high touch.

Click here to listen to more about blending high tech and high touch.

Check out other great SBA content HERE!

John Naisbitt and Doris Naisbitt on China’s Megatrends

Almost 30 years ago, the world was introduced to the research and prophecies of John Naisbitt, when he published his landmark book, Megatrends. I read Megatrends around 1984 and it helped me see that the world I was comfortable in wasn’t going to be the reality of my future. Not too many days have gone by since then without my seeing marketplace evidence of John’s enduring cardinal prophecy, which states: the more high tech humans create the more high touch we will require.

Over the years, I have applied this guidepost in my business and have used “high-tech/high-touch” as an effective metaphor – always with attribution – in the written and spoken products I have produced. So it was with great excitement that I had the opportunity to interview John a few years back on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. And recently, I had the honor of helping John and his wife, Doris, launch their new book, China’s Megatrends. They’ve spent the past several years studying the Asian universe and most recently have focused on this region’s 800lb gorilla, which we talk about during this interview.

Should the world fear or embrace China’s emergence? What about China’s legacy of communism? Will China make the rules others will follow? What are the chinks in China’s socio-economic armor? These are some of the topics John, Doris and I discuss. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from these two important voices about how global business will be conducted. And please be sure to leave your own thoughts, which I will make sure John and Doris see.

Here is my recent interview with John and Doris Naisbitt:  Listen Live! Download, Too!

Here is my 2006 interview with John Naisbitt:  Listen Live! Download, Too!

Small business high touch with video-conferencing

In his landmark book, Megatrends, futurist John Naisbitt proposed that the more high tech we have, the more high touch we will want. After more than a quarter of a century - well into a new century - and with technological innovations now in our possession that would have seemed like magic in 1981, this Naisbitt prophecy is still valid.

But what does “high touch” mean? Do we have to be able to “press the flesh”? Or could 21st century high touch be just seeing another person’s face? Well, the answer to these questions might be found in the brain.

Ever wonder how we’re able to remember and recognize faces so well? Brain experts have discovered that humans have a small area at the bottom of the brain called the fusiform face area (FFA), a part of the brain’s visual cortex which gives us face recognition ability. But there’s more: Further research seems to indicate that the brain pulls information from up to three other data storage areas to double-verify what the FFA is seeing.

So with our brain dedicating so much bandwidth to recognizing and remembering faces, it shouldn’t put anyone off too much for me to propose that seeing a live face, whether in person or remotely, qualifies as high touch.

One of the interesting things about the 21st century is that there are many technological innovations that are ready for the masses, but the masses aren’t ready for them. And one of those technologies is video conferencing. Clearly, we’re in the third or fourth generation of this capability, which means that the barrier-to-entry is low; but, oddly, most small businesses are largely MIA when it comes to this high-touch technology.

So with apologies to Naisbitt, here is my prediction: With every business fighting to squeeze a dime of performance out of every nickel, look for video-conferencing to increase in prominence as an alternative to travel and as another way for small businesses to gain competitive advantage.

Two of my Brain Trust members are video-conferencing experts; and I recently interviewed both of them on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Ruth King is the President of Profitabilitychannel.com, and author of The Ugly Truth About Small Business. Jay Myers is the President of Interactive Solutions, Inc., and author of Keep Swinging. Take a few minutes to listen as both of these smart people talk about how to incorporate video-conferencing in your survival and growth strategies. And, as always, be sure to leave a comment.
For Ruth King:
For Jay Myers:

By the way, I’ve had the honor of interviewing John Naisbitt on my show. Click here to listen to that interview:

Small business survival through low-tech customer communication

Over a quarter of a century ago, John Naisbitt prophesied in his landmark book, Megatrends, that “The more high tech we have, the more high-touch we will want.”

About the same time, in Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon revealed this Osage Indian wisdom, “Some things don’t have to be remembered; they remember themselves.”

After all these years, and even now as I seek 21st century answers, Naisbitt’s “high tech/high touch” dynamic continues to remember itself. In fact, hardly a week goes by without my invoking Naisbitt’s wisdom on my weekday small business radio program.

For some months now, in my writing and on the show, I’ve been encouraging small business owners to forgo the technology, such as emails and, if humanly possible, take the steps to get face-to-face with customers. Even if a salesperson is regularly calling on them, owners should be making their own contact. Ask what you can do to help and then, if at all possible, do it. This is not a sales call. It’s a relationship call upon which the survival of your business in 2009 may depend.

Recently, Ruth Sherman, author of Get Them to See it Your Way, Right Away, and one of my Brain Trust members, joined me again on my show to talk about how to communicate to customers and prospects during a challenging economy. Ruth is a communications expert, and this is my seventh recession to serve customers in (since 1969). So if you want your company to “remember itself” with customers, I think you’ll benefit from the thoughts of a couple of marketplace veterans. And be sure to leave your own thoughts.




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