How to Thrive in a Connected World: Advice for Today’s Marketers

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It’s hard to believe that we’re just a few months away from the year 2020. Not too long ago, many of us were growing up and watching old repeats of TV shows like The Jetsons and Star Trek.

The fictional 21st century featured computers we’d speak to, watches that would do tasks on command, and connected devices that help people wirelessly communicate. Life in the future seemed so much easier back then.

Somewhere along the way, though, this optimistic view of our future changed. The TV writers back then couldn’t have predicted that these space-aged advancements would make us feel more friction today than ease.

Researchers now say our human ability to evolve and adapt has intersected with technology’s rate of change. In other words, they believe technology is moving so quickly that humanity can’t keep up with the change. Perhaps that’s why we always feel like things are moving too quickly.

And it may also explain why we might be reacting to this change by hanging on to the past in an attempt to slow down (just look at all the movie reboots in cinemas these days).

It’s not just happening in our entertainment choices. Marketers are guilty of this, too. We traditionally create plans by looking at historical data and other pieces from our past to help determine what may work in the future.

In today’s world, this tactic may no longer work. Thanks to technology, people have different expectations today, and they expect brands to help fulfill these changing needs.

Unfortunately, brands worldwide aren’t living up to these new expectations. According to a recent survey by Havas, 

Brand trust is down worldwide because people have expectations that brands should contribute to their overall wellbeing. In fact, only 33% of people surveyed in North America, and 25% in SE Asia and Australia, say they trust brands.

How do we resolve this? Perhaps marketers need to stop looking to the past to meet future expectations.

We’ve seen the brands that use technology to demonstrate proof that they’re worth people’s investment of their time, money and well-being are the ones who are leading the change.

Furthermore, these brands are changing the narrative on how to do marketing for today through four, technology-infused themes. We call them the 4Cs: Community, Conversation, Commerce and Curation.


People are more digitally empowered than ever to build communities around the things that matter to them. And it’s these communities that expect brands to give back. Brands can lean into the modern-day community by discovering online communities, inspiring them with bold, community-inspired ideas, and expanding these ideas into real life opportunities.


We’re talking to anything that will listen to us these days – including our computers and smart speakers. When surveyed, only 2 out of 10 people told us they thought businesses were effectively communicating with their customers. This is because people encounter obstacles on a daily basis that prevent them from getting what they need from businesses. It’s creating friction and for brands, it’s leading to a $75B loss in commerce every year. Consider the conversation evolution as an opportunity for brands to drive deep connections with people.


A very long time ago, shopping wasn’t self-serve – it involved a connection with a shopkeeper. But like conversation, commerce has evolved in exciting ways. People don’t just go shopping anymore. They’re always shopping. This means brands now have an always-on opportunity to connect with people.


We used to say things were moving so fast these days that people’s attention spans were reduced to that of a goldfish. But actually, in his book The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly says our brains are getting better at filtering out what doesn’t matter to us. He believes it’s creating a whole class of technology that enhances experience and personalization. It’s what he called filtering – or what we call curating. In fact, every person’s phone and Facebook or Instagram feed is unique! It’s creating opportunities for brands to consider the context of their work in order to resonate more deeply and identify why one brand is different, or worth paying attention to, over another.

By leaning into how people are currently reacting to technology through these four C’s, brands have the potential to be the change people are looking for. And that’s really the final C that encompasses everything about marketing today: Change. By focusing on what people expect from brands in community, conversation, commerce and curation, marketers can use technology to enable or scale these ideas to create a better future together.

As marketers, we have an opportunity today to look forward to keeping pace with the present, and sunset our history of looking backwards to predict the future. Fifty years from now, CMOs will look back at this time, when technology surpassed us, as the time when brands proved their purpose and reinvented how people feel and interact with brands. It’s now up to us to make it happen.

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1 Comment
  1. Hi Michelle, great post. I would build on your list with the addition of ‘compassion’. Compassion for your customer – a real understanding of their needs and how they want them answered. Technology is a given and clearly should be hardwired into every marketer’s plans; however, nothing replaces good old respect and compassion for one’s customer.

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