The Era Of Exponential Marketing

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Most everything we look at in the marketing realm is linear.

We’ll look at things like mobile adoption and it’s always with a linear perspective. It wasn’t too long ago that several brain trusts were telling me that smartphone adoption was at 28% one year and expected to grow to around 32% the following year. Sigh. Linear growth. We’re quickly entering the world of exponential growth and it’s something that few of us are prepared for. One of the clearest explanations of exponential versus linear growth came to me courtesy of a presentation that I saw from Ray Kurzweil (futurist and author of books like The Age of Intelligent Machines and The Singularity Is Near, to name a few). He was talking about the intersection of biology and technology and how once we discovered how to map only one percent of the human genome that we were, basically, at close to one hundred percent. That first one perfect is always the hardest part, but then exponential growth starts kicking in (for myriad of reasons) and stuff starts to boogie.

Most everything we look at in the marketing realm will need to be exponential.

MediaPost had a news item yesterday titled, iPad Sales Are Driving Massive Tablet Growth. From the article: "According to IDC‘s Quarterly Media Tablet Tracker, 25 million units shipped in Q2 – a 33.6% increase from the previous quarter’s 18.7 million and 66.2% over the same period in 2011." Those are exponential numbers, people. Let’s not forget that Apple began taking pre-orders for the iPad in March 2010 (that wasn’t all that long ago). It’s not just tablets, either. Look closely at the rate of adoption for things like smartphones and e-readers and you start seeing this type of exponential behavior everywhere. 

Marketing needs to become an exponential business.

Shifting back to tablet talk, this is just the beginning. Google is getting aggressive with their Android-based tablets. As is Microsoft, Amazon and a bunch of other hardware manufacturers (Acer, Samsung, etc…). The rumor mills are spinning with word that Apple is going to launch a 7-inch version of the iPad shortly as well (to compete with the others in terms of form factor and price). On top of that, there is a very healthy app ecosystem at play here that is only beginning to unlock the power of everything you can do with touch on a larger screen that couldn’t be done on a PC or a smartphone. Exponential growth. Exponential opportunity. Exponential new ways to think about marketing.

It’s exciting, isn’t it?

It probably is exciting for you and me. But, let’s face it: most brands are woefully unprepared. They’re thinking that the market is still too small, not significant or worth the cost of jumping in with both feet. This is classic. They’re thinking about ways to make their websites and mobile sites tabloid-friendly. In that, they are completely missing the mark. This is exponential growth and it’s happening right under our noses. Being prepared isn’t going to be about a two-year outlook (don’t believe me? Please go back to the top of this blog post and re-read those iPad stats courtesy of MediaPost). Instead of waiting for things to happen, the biggest opportunity facing marketers today is shifting from a linear analytics mindset into an exponential one. Yes, it’s an overwhelming and daunting challenge, but let me ask you this:

What choice do we have?


  1. I believe this too Mitch, the commercial world is turning faster and faster. But in stead of seeing it as a threat, making marketing more and more complex, I see it as an opportunity. I believe that in a world that is more and more transparant, the classic ‘image management’ marketing is not working anymore, and the only thing we people can be in the future is ourselves. This is also how we will attract the customers that fit us.
    And being ourselves is irrespective of how fast the world turns…

  2. Great post Mitch (particularly the Kurzweil reference). I believe the biggest issues are a combination of time and ignorance. Most marketers are overloaded and not finding the time to learn what they don’t know. The world moves too quickly for most to keep up. Those who have time to do the thinking aren’t the doers and vice versa. But the evolution will of course continue with our without them.

  3. Being in a company that designs responsive sites, we still see this slow linear approach all the time. I think it is very difficult for companies to move from slow and steady to agile and forward thinking. I get it. Companies that jump too soon can get burned. But this isn’t about a bubble or some smoke and mirrors. This is real and the numbers don’t lie. Great post Mitch!

  4. I’m reading this and thinking how fast things have changed. My kids don’t watch TV on TV any more. Their whole media in-take is present in their tablets. A quick inventory includes: their books, music, magazines, my son’s newspapers and my daughters blogs. They watch TV on them as well. They use them to text and for all their social media endeavors as well. All this change has come about in the last year and a half. What an exciting time to be a teenager! And an old guy too!

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