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Think what it was like to be Lewis Downing Jr:  Back in the mid-late 1800’s, he was the President of the Abbot-Downing Company, one of America’s most celebrated stagecoach manufacturers.  He was at the top of his game, literally opening up the west with his vehicles.  Lewis Downing Jr. supported an entire industry, from wagon wheel makers and other supplier companies, to stagecoach stations and an entire service sector.

While this is an interesting historical footnote, stagecoaches and wagon wheels are little more than curiosities.  Fast forward 100 years, though: will people be thinking the same about our work?

The challenge today is that 10 years has become the new 100 years, and our work is becoming a footnote far faster than ever before.   Think about what you grew up with, and is no longer around:

  • Telex machines (replaced by Fax machines)
  • Fax machines (replaced by email)
  • Dial telephones, and for some, even landline “home” phones (replaced first by push-button phones, and then by cellphones)
  • “Tube” TVs (replaced by flatscreen TVs)
  • Walkmans (replaced by iPods, and then replaced by Smartphones)
  • VCRs (replaced by DVDs, which are being replaced by downloads)
  • Records (replaced by CDs, and are now being replaced by iTunes and streaming services)
  • TV antennas (replaced by Cable TV, which is now being replaced by streaming services)
  • Retail bookstores and ‘record’ stores (replaced by iTunes and Amazon)

While the increasing speed of change is not new, how we market around it is.  Today, marketers have two key responsibilities: the ‘today’ marketing of today’s products and services, and the ‘today’ discovery of tomorrow’s products and services. Unfortunately, because of the very real pressure to drive current quarter sales, most marketers focus exclusively on the today.  Tomorrow is someone else’s problem.

Yet it need not be, and here’s why:  the two activities of today marketing and tomorrow marketing are intrinsically connected:  Yes, Competitive intelligence, Market research, and Social Media monitoring are important activities for today marketing.  But these same three items provide important clues for tomorrow marketing, and need to be equally viewed through the tomorrow lens.  Social Media particularly can act as a forum to discover nascent needs, test drive product or service ideas, test drive marketing positioning and creative.

Lewis Downing Jr. and the Abbot-Downing Company may have done a great job of today marketing, but could not make the transition from horse-drawn carriages to the horseless variety.  Sony developed the wildly successful Walkman, but it wasn’t them who developed the iPod: it was Apple.  One key  reason Abbot-Downing, Sony, and so many others fail is because they don’t listen to the signals.  In other words, they neglect the important job of tomorrow marketing.

This week’s action item:  Looking at your marketing plan for the year, what percentage of your time and budget are focused on today marketing vs tomorrow marketing?  Are you satisfied with the mix?  If not, this week make a change: tomorrow will only take care of itself if you take care of tomorrow today.

Marketing Insight:  Tomorrow Marketing provides important insights that can be used well beyond the marketing department.  It provides the seeds of ideas (and a reality check) for Research and Development, and is a critical input to the strategic planning process.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders



Why are some things easier to do, and others so hard?  Yes, knowledge is important – but this can be improved through training.  Yes, attitude is crucial: if you don’t enjoy doing something, there is little intrinsic incentive for doing a great job.  And since attitude is infectious, your attitude will impact those around you.  But putting knowledge and attitude aside, is there another factor that determines performance?

The answer is yes.  (Predictably yes, otherwise why write this blog post?)

Built for itThe best way to illustrate this factor is by example.  If you were asked to describe a football player, how would you describe them?   Strong, fast, able to react quickly – and the larger the better.  If you were to describe a ballerina, what words come to mind?  For me, the words are musical, graceful, and petite.

Both are athletic.  But one is built for football, and the other is built for ballet. Just the thought of one doing the other’s job is ridiculous: they would either be crushed, or laughed off the stage.  Both know it, and they figured out quite early in their lives where to focus their efforts.

Those things that you find easy to do, are the things that you are built for.  If you do things that you aren’t built for, you’ll never distinguish yourself, and you’ll always struggle with productivity.  Yes, knowledge and attitude are important, but the big question remains: what are you built for?

This week’s action plan:  Answering the big question is tough (I’ve written a few books on that topic, actually), but consider the connection to your activities in Social Media.  This week, change your contributions to the Social Media conversation to take advantage of what you’re built for.  If you aren’t great at writing, then hire a writer to wordsmith your ideas.  If you are a powerful speaker, then share your knowledge in video format via YouTube.  If you are great at getting to the point, then master Twitter.  Not only will this be easier, but also more enjoyable.

The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

Tools of the Trade

by Randall Craig January 3, 2012

If you are reading this and profess to have some expertise in Social Media, then you may be offended by my next comment: it soon won’t matter, and your “expertise” is fast becoming irrelevant. Your long term career is in jeopardy, and your short term prospects are also questionable. Note that I didn’t say that […]

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The Social Benchmark

by Randall Craig April 12, 2011

In your professional field, who is the best at what they do? Chances are, you didn’t name yourself. This is not surprising – between personal modesty, and our competitive instinct to look over our shoulders, we will usually make the comparison to others. Management experts will tell you this is wrong; that the correct approach […]

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Leave it til later

by Randall Craig April 28, 2009

Most people have no problem doing tomorrow what could have been done today. In fact, many spend their entire careers getting good at procrastinating. We know this isn’t healthy, so we do what we can to improve – we invent motivating slogans: Get it done! Just do it! Start your engines! Even the name of […]

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Urgent vs. Important

by Randall Craig September 16, 2008

We are a society looking for instant gratification. When a customer calls, we rush to meet their needs. When we check into a hotel, we expect prompt, courteous service. When we drive our cars, we always take the shortest routes – at the fastest speeds. And when we do a great job, we want to […]

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Mission Possible

by Randall Craig April 8, 2008

What would you do if you could have five “free” years to do whatever you like? Would you pick up a musical instrument? Would you spend more time building relationships with your friends and family? What would you do if you could re-do your education completely? What would you do if you could choose a […]

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The Hare and the Fox

by Randall Craig July 25, 2006

An old master was with his disciple walking in the woods, when they observed a hare being chased by a fox. The student observed that it would not be long before the hare would be caught, and eaten by the faster (and probably smarter) fox. The master replied that this particular rabbit would get away, […]

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