2018 was quite a year for international business. While we saw many points of contention, and had world leaders and consumers alike questioning just what in the world big business could possibly be thinking, we also saw some amazing deals finalized, some great annual earnings calls, and had some new developments that will help make our businesses grow in 2019.
The world of business has been dealing with new and emerging implications of the Internet forwell over two decades now. Far more than any other development, at least since the Industrial Revolution, the Internet has completely transformed the business world, overhauling not only the way we market and sell our goods and services, but the way we communicate and structure our entire organizations.
There’s no reason to expect that this overall inclination is going to change in 2019. In fact, it’s only going to accelerate. Business as a function has finally caught up with the practical applications of the digital age, such as email, online commerce, and other factors, but what about the intangible?
As the Internet provided access to huge stores of information, and completely changed the way that people interact with each other, we’ve grown at the point where consumers, from all walks of life, are starting to evolve in ways that we never predicted. This shift in development, both from a societal and cultural standpoint, has the potential to completely overhaul the way that we communicate with, market to, and conduct commerce with our consumers.
To ensure you’re prepared for what the future holds, study these two startling trends, that have started to gain some serious traction in the world, and will only grow in prominence as we enter 2019.
The Coming of the “Cool CEO”
If you look at old photos of J.D. Rockefeller, Warren Buffett, and even President Trump, they look just how a CEO is supposed to look – stern, calm, and dressed in the best tailored suit that money can buy. The problem is, when you look like the traditional CEO, that’s how you’re perceived, and for winning the hearts, minds, and, most importantly, dollars of modern consumers, that image will do more harm than good.
Don’t get me wrong – these are great, hardworking men, who made their fortunes by being smart, taking risks, and capitalizing on opportunities when they arose. However, they don’t look like the average consumer, so whenever they speak, there’s an instinctive hesitation about trusting what these men are saying. Consumers have been burned by men in suits before; what makes these men any different?
But that’s not an issue that the “Cool CEOs” have to contend with. People like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t look like businessmen – they look like nerds who enjoy playing old school video games on the weekend. And it has worked brilliantly for them. As society shifts towards becoming more accepting and encouraging towards many different lifestyles and ways of thinking, people will expect, even demand, that their leaders look like they do, in every way. That means tailored suits are out, and a Game of Thrones t-shirt is in.
If you take a close look at the daily lives of these overachievers, you’ll notice that they structure their day like any other CEO, but they live their lives like everyday, normal people. They post daily on social media, not just about their businesses, but what’s going on in their personal lives; they upload selfies of themselves watching the NFL game on Sundays; they’ll post a Snapchat video of themselves bar-hopping in New York City. It’s an endearing quality that allows them to penetrate the hearts in minds of everyday, normal people who aren’t mega-rich businessmen. In other words, they seem like they’re pretty cool.
If you want to capitalize on the same connection that these famous innovators enjoy, then
you’ve got to establish some report with your customers, and I don’t mean with a piece of
marketing you run in an ad. Instead, you’ve got to engage them, asking not just how they like their products, but what’s going on in their lives. Ask them what they think is cool, and what isn’t.
You can do this is many different ways, whether through your social media, or your own
company’s website. If you’re a CEO, and you haven’t started your own blog yet, you need to do so now. This will become a powerful tool that you can use to connect with your consumers, share your insights and tips for success, and, most importantly, show them that you’re a human being, just like they are.
The Rise of the Everyman Celebrity
In times past, if you wanted to endorse your own product with words that consumers could trust, you signed a contract with a major athlete, a Hollywood star, or a famous musician, and paid them to say a few choice words about your product. Alternately, you put their name on the product, and watched sales skyrocket. This trend has slowed in recent years, and in 2019, if these are the people that you’re relying on to establish trust in your brand, you’ll quickly find it backfiring.
Before the Internet, if you wanted to be regarded as a celebrity, you had to star in a movie, produce a hit album, publish a book, or break a sports record. Today, many are staking their claim to fame, not on a movie screen, but in front of a webcam. As Youtube, Twitch, Vine, and similar platforms have grown in popularity, dozens of user upload their content daily, in the hopes of generating a fanbase big enough to allow them to do it for a living.
While it’s a long shot, the few who have succeeded enjoy celebrity status, the likes of which is usually reserved for movie stars and pop idols. More importantly – people are listening to these self-made celebrities.
In the public conscious, there is a growing trend towards not only impatience, but downright contempt, for the movie stars and musical artists consumers used to adore. They see them as out of touch – championing modern issues like gun control and the #MeToo movement, while living in gated communities protected by armed guards, and having made their careers with the support of Harvey Weinstein, and similar Hollywood moguls. As a result, if you’re paying hundreds of thousands for a celebrity endorsement, what used to be a safe bet has turned into a risky investment.
Not so with the “Everyman Celebrities” that we see on YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and Vine.
These homegrown stars produce much of their own content, and often come from normal
backgrounds, endearing them to the public at large. If businesses want to continue to enjoy the sort of trust that a few words spoken by a celebrity can instill, they’d be smart to eschew the big screen, and turn instead to a computer monitor.