Zag Ed. 15 – Increasing the Trajectory of your Learning Curve, The NFT Brandwagon, and introducing the Zag Grab Bag!

🏃 It’s better to be best than to be first. But there are real benefits to moving fast and being early. When you’re first, you’re in a blue ocean instead of a red ocean.  You can grab mind and market share easier and faster. But just as if not more importantly you learn faster.

The trajectory of your learning curve as a business, team, and individual is more important than what you know or what you have at any given time

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Ask almost any successful CEO, CMO, or entrepreneur and they will tell you  that speed of learning is one of the most important factors in their success. Challengers move faster than incumbents, which gives them the short-term advantage of being first to market, but the real advantage, the one that drives long-term, sustainable growth, is the steep incline of their learning curve.

⚖️ The role of marketing is to drive the growth of a business by changing perception and behaviour. We often think about those two tasks as separate challenges – how do we get people to think differently about our brand, and how do we get people to take action to buy our product or service. But actually perception and behaviour are closely linked – it all comes down to human psychology and what it takes for people to change. The more people believe in the value you offer the more they will do (or spend) to realise it. The opposite is also true – the easier you make it for people to take action, the less you have to convince them of the value. BJ Fogg’s Behavioural Change Model helps show the point and the relationship between belief and action. Don’t just focus on changing perception then changing behaviour – understand how intertwined they are in the life and minds of your customers and push to find the best balance of the two to drive growth.

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📆 The NFT brandwagon (see what we did there?) is getting crowded. Every week you hear about a new brand doing something with NFTs. Heck, AdAge even keeps a continually updated list of them. It gets talked about in industry publications, talked about in marketing circles, and we’re sure the ‘best use of NFTs’ awards are coming. But do consumers really care? Are these activations doing anything for the growth of these brands and their businesses? Or are they marketing for the sake of marketing and “innovation theatre”?  We hosted our first Marketing Hive on Linkedin this week (more info below) on the topic of NFTs. One of the big themes to come out of that conversation is that the first mover opportunity has largely passed. There’s been a lot of sizzle, but not much steak from brands in the NFT space. The real opportunity now is to be best, not first, and that likely comes from focusing on the “token” aspects of NFTs, not the “non-fungible” aspect. NFTs offer access, not just ownership. That could be access to an eventa club, or a person.

If you missed the first NFT bandwagon, think about what value you can offer to your customers through access. Then decide whether NFTs is a way to do that in a relevant and differentiated way.

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Also, remember that 70% of US adults aren’t interested in getting involved in NFTs.


📝 ESG is a big topic for any modern business. Since challengers are designed for the world of today, most have a point of view and offering around ESG. They know it’s what the modern consumer is increasingly asking for in the brands they associate with and the products and services they buy. One recent study from PWC found that 83% of companies should be actively shaping ESG policies. ESG when done well, is not a comms plan. It’s not a campaign you wrap around your brand. It needs to be a value and set of beliefs that’s baked into your business and culture. ESG, like any true purpose, needs to come from the inside out, not the outside in. There are great resources out there for marketers thinking about what ESG means for their brand and business. Here are a few of our favourites:


😗 Sales delivers short-term cash flow, marketing delivers long-term cash flow. It really is that simple. There’s always a strong pull towards the short-term results (especially in incumbent organizations). And that’s fine, we’re in the business of business. But just recognize the trade off you’re making because there always is one. Short-term comes at the expense of long-term, and “brand marketing” isn’t just a fluffy, abstract concept. Brand builds long-term cash-flow, and the research and technology is finally catching up to be able to prove and measure how and how much. Find the balance between the two that’s right for you, your business, and your industry, but make sure you’re investing in both otherwise you’ll always be scrambling to deliver the short-term because you didn’t invest in the long-term.


Have a thought on this? We'd love to hear it.

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