internet cafe, ampersand, digital sign ampersad

3 Technologies Consumers Couldn’t Have Predicted

Technology has become a big part of everyday life. Right now, you’re reading this on a computer, tablet or smart phone. That alone shows how technology is intricately woven into many aspects of modern life. While some innovations could have been predicted, like automation or virtual reality, others have been the opposite. Here are three technologies that consumers could have never known where coming into their lives.

The Internetinternet cafe, ampersand, digital sign ampersad

Before the internet, data transmission was pretty basic. Telephone, radio and morse code were the only ways to send a data transmission until the advent of satellites in the 1950s. Still, consumers never could have known that one day electronic transmissions, like email and text messages, would become such a big part of their lives. In fact, the internet is so pervasive that it’s hard to imagine life without it. For generations born during the internet age, it might be even harder to imagine.


People have been smoking tobacco for hundreds of years, but no one could have predicted that smoking would go digital. E-cigarettes, as they exist today, were invented in China in 2003, but tobacco companies have been trying to develop something similar to them since the 1960s. However, the invention was first thought of as early as the late 1920s by Joseph Robinson. Today, you can find a vape shop in every town, but it’s hard to say whether Robinson could have foreseen the invention’s popularity.

The Microwave

The post-WWII era saw a lot of developments in the home appliance market. One invention, however, really surprised and delighted consumers: the microwave. Before the microwave became a part of the modern kitchen, there was no way to speed up food preparation. Defrosting meat, for example, would take hours rather than minutes since there was no way to thaw the meat without cooking it. So, when microwaves hit the market, they were lauded as the latest futuristic innovation that would revolutionise how people prepared food. Interestingly, they were right. By the 1970s, 10% of households had a microwave. Today, you can find a microwave in 90% of households.

Everyday Innovations

These inventions could be considered everyday innovations because they impact our daily lives. However, most people couldn’t have anticipated how these technologies would alter everyday life. It makes you wonder what other developments are just on the horizon that could change the course of human history.

Adoption curves for MarTech

This past week has seen a “Sweeper Wave” of coinciding reading and researches which tell me one new thing – podcasting for business content marketing is now going mainstream.

First let me explain the sweeper waves – I was on holiday on the Coromandel Coast and a sea swell off the west coast caused occasionally huge waves to come right up the beach nearly to the high tide mark – even when the tide was half out.  These had large volumes of water inside them and so had great forward momentum and a strong undertow when they receded.  While I watched, people paddling knee deep got caught off guard and swept off their feet and the wave also soaked their clothes higher up the beach – one lady broke her hip being tumbled by the wave and the air ambulance was called out.

podcast studio, auckland podcast, podcast for business, NZ podcasts

I reflected on the sweeper waves and see them as a metaphor for change in marketing and business.

Hemingway’s insight into change (or bankruptcy) is that it happens slowly and then all at once.  They key is knowing whether what you are seeing is at the early-adopter or just-going-mainstream stage.  I have followed the rise of electric vehicles assiduously since watching Tony Seba’s illustration of Fifth Avenue, New York.  These two photos are taken 13 years apart.  What happened in between?  Change.  Disruption.

[Side note, Tony is an investor in New Zealand startups]

Like a sweeper wave, some people get caught unawares.  My attempt to avoid this is to watch out for “recurring themes” in tech, marketing, and business.  The rest of this article is about my recent finds.  Some connect, others are remarkable for different reasons.  

I’ve been podcasting since 2013 and during the latter part of 2018 I saw major brands using the medium for their content marketing – McKinsey, The Economist Intelligence Unit and CapGemini.  This tells me that content marketing is expanding into the audio medium.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  Few brands have enough to say that doesn’t involve their competitors (which they are probably unwilling to discuss in public forum) compared to independent commentators who can speak more freely.  And this fact alone will deter many brands from podcasting.  There are other opportunities for content marketing using audio which are less ’traditional’ than a weekly radio show which brands can usefully use.

My podcast interview with Bob Weir author of “Why Businesses Fail” was published by Access Granted NZ.  His book is a must-read for founders, investors and board members for the insights into the human psyche and how it contributes to business. Business failures are usually preceded by identifiable problems.  Analysing problems at the macro level was an observation which led to me writing Problem Solving for Marketing. The insight connecting these is that correctly identifying the type of problem first, aides finding the right solution.  Is your business situation a “mess”; a “problem”; or a “puzzle”?

If you use email marketing and CRM in your business, here is a very nicely written summary of how one startup uses funnels, lead nurturing, and incorporating Net Promotor Score too.  I don’t know the team but they are a young venture and so starting from scratch has advantages.  A word of warning; anecdotally, Active Campaign is said to be less user-friendly than other comparable software.  [If you want to compare software user views, always check out Trust Radius run by Vinay Baghat – it’s independent and user-led.] 

And although this case study looks amazing, very few brands that I meet use automation, business process flows or sales funnels to this extent.  How does this reflect on the adoption curve for CRM, which I was working on with Peppers and Rogers back in 1997?  Maybe some firms will never use marketing automation or sales lead scoring.

Writing a presentation for the Penrose Business Association brought me to confront my lack of skill using traditional presentation software.  I have found two alternatives Beautiful and Stun, one American and the other Kiwi.  

Finally – the joke’s on you for the Mars Rover whose batteries may have died after 15 years – Brendan Boughan’s Cartoons by Jim captures it perfectly. and flashes back to 1997 when we first got Mars fever and the creatives at HP had a similar vibe going.  One of my favourite laugh-out-loud adverts of the time.


Ready to learn Social Media in 2019?

Rebecca is going to be at the Social Media Conference NZ #SMCNZ19

March 1-2 – she’s hosting a table talk on podcasting and blogging for business.

This is a fantastic opportunity to invest in your business and for your own professional development. The conference is for Small business to corporates, from beginners to advanced. Imagine the connections you can make?

What will I learn?

There are 25 Speakers for #SMCNZ19 and topics cover everything Social Media.

Some topics include : Facebook advertising, Communities, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, Branding, Campaigns, Video Marketing and of course Podcasting (with Rebecca).

The two International Speakers are ell worth the ROI alone if you take action on their talks.

You can see the agenda here:

If you get a group together, you can get further savings on groups of 4 and 8.

You can book here:

Podcasting is the new Content Marketing

Yes this is true.  Like so many other forms of social that I’ve personally used (Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, G+, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Pinterest, WeChat, Telegram, Vero – yes, I have profiles on ALL these), they start getting used by individuals and then brands get on board.

Podcasts are being started by brands and businesses – I knew they were going mainstream when in 2018 I saw the Economist Intelligence Unit, CapGemini and McKinsey had launched podcasts.  I’ve been podcasting since 2013 on RowingChat.

And so if you are doing content marketing and want to learn the 5 pre-requisites for brand podcasting to be successful, come to SMCNZ19.

See you there!

marketing problem, angry man problem, problem solving marketing,

Problem Solving for Marketing

Solving marketing problems is difficult.  I don’t like doing it – unless I know a solution or have a good, educated guess about what could work.

A client situation emerged which serves to illustrate the challenge.  We reached an impasse.  I had offered advice, our progress was smooth until we got to the point of marketing to new customers who don’t yet know the brand.  And one of the client team was deeply opposed to the tactic I proposed.  I’ll explain how we got through this later.

Solving marketing problems

One of my podcasts summarised three types of problem – messes, problems and puzzles.  These are ‘complex’ problems – ones with multiple factors affecting the situation.  Modern marketing gets more of these – because with omni-channel promotions it’s increasingly hard to isolate a single input-output signal to explain an outcome.

The author paraphrases Gerald Ashley as he describes the different approach needed for each type of problem 

  • Messes are ill-defined in form and structure and so are most like real life.
  • Problems have a defined structure with potential solutions, but none are absolutely clear and right.
  • Puzzles are well defined and have specific solutions that can be worked out.

Marketing problems are frequently perceived to be puzzles, but in actual fact are probably messes.  The big insight is in this quote:

Most of us crave certainty and as much control as possible. Politicians and business leaders are just the same and perhaps even more so. ‘Bring me facts and experts. I want a solution now!’ By implication, those in positions of authority tend to treat most issues as puzzles, sometimes problems and never messes. As a result they tend to seek shortcuts to answers that are probably wrong. The biggest mistake is to carve out part of a mess, treat it as a problem and then solve it as a puzzle. This can lead to very bad decisions.

Back to my client ‘problem’

We reviewed the situation and whether it was a complex problem or not.  It was.  

It wasn’t a puzzle because the structure of marketing activity was reasonably clear-cut.

It wasn’t a mess because there was structure, there was a framework of activity and the desired output was prospects who hadn’t previously known about the brand.  And so we decided this was an actual problem.

I thought hard about what to do.  This was the series of steps


  1. I asked the client what they did when they were advising someone and had disagreement
  2. I reviewed the steps we’d taken thus far and gained agreement around the success of the process, method and outcomes to date
  3. I narrowed the discussion to the point where the “leap of faith” sat. What were the inputs we had prepared (there were 2) and these were acknowledged
  4. Then I walked away and left the client team to discuss.

They have not specifically told me what they discussed or what they decided. But it’s clear we are still working together. And so I am presuming the first (tentative) step towards the leap of faith activity has been taken and I’ll hear what the outcomes are in due course.