Marketers love to say that everything is dying. Facebook is dead, email is dying, even traditional marketing is said to be dead. Let me tell you why that's bs, with a little story about Elvis impersonators.
It’s 5 AM, and the birds are chirping outside my window. The sun is rising, tinting my room orchid and golden.
I open the window and take a breath of the spring air, and smile because it smells nicely of flowers. Feeling the first sun rays of the day on on my face, has always been magical to me. The sun is just like the truth, you know? You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.
I put some music on, swagger my way to the kitchen, and pour myself a Pepsi to pump me up. I’m feeling the music and can’t help but dance. Rock and Roll, right? You can’t help but move to it. That’s what happens to me. I can’t help it.
I don’t get up at 5 AM because I like it. I do it because my morning routine takes a lot of time. After a shower, I blow-dry my hair and style it into a pompadour. A lot of hot air and sticky wax later, I’m done. My hair shines black, and my sideburns are neatly trimmed.
I get in my pants, tight on the ass and wide on the ankles, and throw on a white high-collar jacket with no shirt underneath. It’s how everybody does it nowadays. It’s fashionable to show off a hairy chest.
Stepping out of the front door onto the busy street, I always think, “Man, I really like Vegas.”
Did you spot Elvis’s quotes? I highlighted them for you. But make no mistake, I’m not the King of Rock and Roll. I just pose as him. I’m an Elvis impersonator.
I’m terribly sorry, but I have bad news. The numbers are in, they are clear, and they don’t lie. The 3rd of March in 2031 is the day when every last human will be an Elvis impersonator. Yes, even you will be swinging your hips to Rock and Roll.
Okay okay, enough with the Elvis talk. That was just a little story, more for my own pleasure than for yours.
But I do have a point to make. Or, more accurately, Mark Ritson has a point to make.
“We extrapolate ourselves into stupidity.”
That’s what Mark said in a 2018 talk on what does and doesn’t matter in marketing.
He used the Elvis example to illustrate the miscalculations we automatically make when it comes to trends.
When Elvis died in 1977, there were 170 registered Elvis impersonators.
In 2000 there were 85,000 registered Elvis impersonators.
If we just extrapolate that growth to the future, the calculation says that everyone in the world will be an Elvis impersonator by 2031.
The point is that lines curve. Trends slow down. Just because something new enters the market, doesn’t mean the old thing is going away.
Everything isn’t always dying in marketing.
Because we extrapolate ourselves into stupidity, we assume everything is always dying.
I read roughly one article a week telling me that things are dead or dying. Facebook is dead, email is dead, television is dead. Fucking traditional marketing is supposedly dead, according to this article. Not even the Harvard Business Review is safe from this bullshit.
When the VHS recorder started selling, everyone wept for cinema. But guess what, cinema is still around, stronger than ever. Not even Netflix could kill it. It will be around in 2031, too.
Just because Facebook doesn’t enjoy the same mainstream popularity it once did, doesn’t mean it’s dying. It might surprise you to learn that FB has more active users than ever. Just because we can now use instant messengers doesn’t mean email is dying. Television is still one of the most performant marketing channels.
And traditional marketing is very much alive and desperately needed in a world where everyone just focuses on the newest fads.
That’s it. I’m out.