Selling Foresight: what foresight can learn from marketing


Published on

Thoughts in progress about how the futures field is portrayed in the media. Presented at AusForesight2007 in Sydney, November 2007.

Published in: Business, News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • Selling Foresight: what foresight can learn from marketing

    1. 2. <ul><li>Some thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion as we go along </li></ul>
    2. 3. <ul><li>Selling foresight? </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this heresy? </li></ul>
    3. 4. <ul><li>Jose Ramos AFI Monograph </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Hayward’s PhD: From Individual to Social Foresight </li></ul><ul><li>Recent APF and WFSF email list discussions about newspaper/online articles about futurists </li></ul><ul><li>Research Project on State of Play in the Futures Field </li></ul>
    4. 5. <ul><li>“ There is a lack of methods and approaches which explore the role of consciousness and how socially oriented foresight develops in the individual. More energy needs to go into developing an understanding of approaches that facilitate the foresight, awareness, responsibility taking and leadership of individuals ”. </li></ul>
    5. 6. <ul><li>The development of an individual foresight capacity through the evolution of consciousness, that leads to the development of a social foresight capacity. </li></ul><ul><li>What triggers the development of individual foresight? </li></ul>
    6. 7. <ul><li>Little clarity or consistency across the field – and still dispute about whether there is a field </li></ul><ul><li>Anyone can call themselves a futurist – what is the definition(s)? </li></ul><ul><li>What is it that a futurist does? </li></ul><ul><li>Wide range of approaches and outcomes </li></ul>
    7. 8. <ul><li>… to kick off similar efforts to engage members of the press and a number of notable futurists. I feel that both the process and the product hold the promise of taking the futures studies into the scene of every day life. This would help the contemporary journalists change their mind-set about what constitutes good and sound futures studies . And in turn the public at large may give more attention and value to such works. </li></ul>
    8. 9. <ul><li>Good plug for … our field! </li></ul><ul><li>This seems like a golden PR moment for us! </li></ul><ul><li>I agree there are flaws in  the piece, but that on balance it is a net positive, especially in comparison to our general lack of coverage in the business press, or generally unfavorable coverage when it does appear. </li></ul>
    9. 10. <ul><li>From the perspective of the respondents, on the work of futurists, the article leads them to conclude: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. That futurists analyse the future, but don’t actually measure anything (i.e. nothing tangible emerges). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. That futurists have one technique – scenario planning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. That scenario planning might have some use, but then again, it might not. It might deliver value, but then again, it might not. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4. That the cost of a scenario project is high in relation to the uncertainty of the results (i.e. there is a good chance of it providing poor value). </li></ul></ul>
    10. 11. <ul><li>Practitioners of futures consultancy must commit themselves to, and persuade their clients to come along with them , that the future is knowable in some sense of deliberate rationality, and that knowledge of the future can be acquired by some disciplined methods, studies, or brain circuit team work, like scenarios, delphi, futures labs, etc, and that knowledge can lead to a better understanding of at least some about the future or be useful for foresight engineering </li></ul>
    11. 12. <ul><li>I don't think [we] need a good PR person. What we need is to train better journalists . Current ones just never seem to &quot;get&quot; what futures is, always wanting it to be something else . I have read scores of articles about futures over the years and this is by no means the worst, but none of them can resist ridiculing the field rather than striving to understand it , no matter how patiently we try. Perhaps that is our fault. But perhaps it is not entirely our fault. </li></ul>
    12. 13. <ul><li>Rather than focusing on training better journalists, might it be more practical to learn more about &quot;the care and feeding of journalists.” </li></ul><ul><li>Yes…but my point is that even when we do use all the tricks necessary to talk with the media in their language, it doesn't work. As I concluded in what I wrote earlier, that still may be our fault, but not ONLY our fault. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>From my experience with having journalists in my futures classes (coming in specifically to learn how to report about it better), they often admit they were so fixated on certain ideas about the future and futurists that are part of the Common Culture that it takes them quite some time to hear what is being said in order even to be able to tell the story more responsibly. </li></ul>
    13. 14. <ul><li>Using the piece (or excerpts from piece) to promote speakers to key groups (associations, business organizations, civic, government groups, etc.)  -- </li></ul><ul><li>Using the piece to secure interviews with media at various levels -- local, regional, trade, etc. But don't forget TV and radio, i.e. the Biz Radio Network, . A brief pitch to local media mentioning Peter's quote in Forbes article could garner local interest in interview, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Distribute copies to students and prospective students , as well as university officials -- internal marketing is very important </li></ul><ul><li>Create direct mail campaign around article's key messages; distribute to prospective customers, groups, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop online marketing campaign – optimize web site so key word searches drive traffic to home page where they will read article </li></ul><ul><li>Send link/copy of piece to current or past customers to generate a referral or new business; ask for a referral or a new project in cover letter or note </li></ul><ul><li>Anyone seeking speaking engagements should provide copies of this and other articles to organizers as third-party endorsements to field credibility </li></ul>
    14. 15. <ul><li>Develop a set of talking points/core messages we would like to have any futurist share if asked about our profession </li></ul><ul><li>Pick up on the theme that attracted the reporter—interest in using professional futurists is growing because uncertainty also is. Can we generate additional evidence of this trend and point to other methodologies people are using. </li></ul><ul><li>What would be ideal would be a bank of stories where futures proved invaluable in helping an organisation to come to grips with its uncertain future. </li></ul>
    15. 16. <ul><li>The more the work of you as futurists and the arena of future studies are exposed in the mainstream, the greater our chance to effect change by helping the world &quot;envision&quot; possibilities.  Much like the artist who can see the painting in their head or hear the song before they create it, so too can we plant visions for unfoldment.  And hope.  I urge you all to reach out to the media and to artists to help spread the word of your work, ideas and your expertise in a variety of mediums targeted to all age groups, young and old alike.  Graphic Novels, comic books, Second Life, dome theatres, film, documentaries, TV, video games, music, live events, fine art, operas, poetry, fictional novels, performance art....etc.  These are all viable outlets for futuristic ideas and through such vehicles there is the potential to inspire and effect change at light speed.  I like to think of this synergistic meeting of future studies and art/media as whole system expression.  </li></ul>
    16. 17. <ul><li>You can see that I agree with your conclusion that we (futurists) have not done nearly enough to own this moment of profound cultural paradigm change/clash and learn to help ourselves and others act responsibly within it.  In short, we need a workshop for journalists and one for futurists .  Both need to learn how to see, think and act across cultural paradigms.  </li></ul>
    17. 18. <ul><li>Do we know what message we want the media to hear? </li></ul>
    18. 19. <ul><li>Generally unhappy with portrayal in the mass media, and almost an over-reaction when it happens </li></ul><ul><li>Is it the message, the transmitter and/or the receiver? </li></ul>
    19. 20. <ul><li>The (mass) media is about today, not the future. It’s generally short-term, not long-term. </li></ul><ul><li>Should we expect journalists to engage with the long-term when they have short-term imperatives? </li></ul>
    20. 21. <ul><li>If we want media coverage, don’t we have to play their game? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you present a long-term message in a short-term package? </li></ul><ul><li>Or do we try and change the rules of the game? </li></ul>
    21. 22. <ul><li>Media portrayal of futurists a symptom of a broader issue? </li></ul><ul><li>How do those of us who work or aspire to work in the futures field describe our work and its value? (APF email list) </li></ul><ul><li>What is the message we are trying to convey, and to whom? </li></ul>
    22. 23. <ul><li>From literature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yates is a Futurist . Which is to say, he makes a very good living flying around the world dispensing premonitory wisdom, aka prepackaged bullshit...” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Futurist by James P. Othmer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>From Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Futurists are those who look to and provide analysis of the future. </li></ul></ul>
    23. 24. <ul><li>And this comment from Michael Rodgers, who writes the Practical Futurists column on </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>I’m an accidental futurist. Five years ago, when I was trying to name this column, I found that all the clever technology titles involving bytes, bits and so forth had already been taken. So I thought: since I’m interested in how technology will affect us in years to come, why not “Practical Futurist”?  It seemed humorous at the time: how many futurists are known for practicality?   But within months, people were referring to me as a futurist. And thus I learned my first lesson about the profession: the way you become a futurist is simply to call yourself one. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> ). </li></ul>
    24. 25. <ul><li>I help organizations think about and prepare for the alternative futures they are likely to face and build the kind of futures they want. </li></ul><ul><li>I help organisations and communities realise their long-term potential. </li></ul><ul><li>I tell people that I am a management consultant with a specialty in strategy development and planning.  I also tell people that I am a futurist, but when I do, I, too, often get those funny looks. </li></ul>
    25. 26. <ul><li>Make it personal :  don’t have an elevator speech defining futures studies, rather, have one about yourself as a futurist </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t state what you do—state what you can do for others .  “My company and I help organizations understand how to make decisions today in order to achieve their most important dreams for the future.”  (I haven’t thought about the wording of these, I’m just going after the concept, so don’t pick these apart too much—I’m way ahead of you in doing that). However you phrase it, you want the listener to think, “Boy, my company could use some help in doing that.” </li></ul><ul><li>Add a credibility booster :  “In fact, we just finished helping ‘Company [insert well-known name here]’ plan a great course of action toward achieving their dreams for the Year 2050.” </li></ul><ul><li>Then, ask them an open-ended question related to your elevator speech:  “How does your company see itself in the Year 2050?”  Show strong interest in their response.  If they leave the elevator feeling that you paid more attention to them than yourself, they will better value you and your speech and will remember it longer. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep it quotable .  Your goal is that a listener will be able to recount to another colleague a close approximation of your speech after that one-time 30-second conversation. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t memorize the speech; rather, memorize the two or three key concepts you always want to convey each time you speak, and then keep the actual speech spontaneous and personal. </li></ul><ul><li>Along with (6), avoid as much technical jargon as you can. </li></ul>
    26. 27. <ul><li>Can there be a core message? Should there be a core message? </li></ul><ul><li>And, why do we care? Indeed, do we care? </li></ul>
    27. 28. <ul><li>The imperative to develop social foresight? </li></ul><ul><li>That has to start with developing individual foresight. </li></ul>
    28. 29. <ul><li>You won’t get journalists to write about the future with a long term perspective until journalists recognise and develop their own foresight capacities? </li></ul>
    29. 30. <ul><li>People work in organisations, so an organisational foresight capacity won’t emerge until individuals recognise and develop their foresight capacities? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consciousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discourse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice </li></ul></ul>
    30. 31. <ul><li>If the message is about the need to develop a social foresight capacity to ensure a robust and sustainable future for ourselves and futures generations…. </li></ul><ul><li>… then we have to deal with the observation that “foresight as a capacity declines markedly when we move from individuals to organisations and then to societies” (Hayward 2003) </li></ul>
    31. 32. Foresight Capacity Foresight Level Low High Organisational Individual Social The more individuals organise and form communities, the less likely they are to be able to develop their foresight capacity? Yet, social foresight won’t emerge until individuals develop that capacity?
    32. 33. Individual Foresight Innate and unconscious Organisational Foresight hidden Social Foresight undeveloped Imagination Hopes Desires Images Beliefs Values No process to surface capacity and build it through education (of children and journalists!), so remains innate Capacity is hidden by need to conform to organisational norms, so never becomes overt Cult of busyness – what is it that I do? Reports of increasing disenchantment with organisational life
    33. 34. Individual Foresight conscious Organisational Foresight emerging Social Foresight undeveloped Imagination Hopes Desires Images Beliefs Values Education Futures Strategy Leadership Operations Increasing sense of purpose and trust? Spend time here Spend time here
    34. 35. Individual Foresight conscious Organisational Foresight overt Social Foresight emerging
    35. 36. <ul><li>This is not an issue unique to the futures field. </li></ul><ul><li>Science in Australia has been working for at least the last five years to raise its profile in the’s starting to work. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Money </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Single contact point </li></ul></ul>
    36. 37. <ul><li>Al Gore helps… </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the future </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on climate change </li></ul><ul><li>Behavioural change? </li></ul><ul><li>What was it that made climate change palatable in 2006/7 and not in 1996? </li></ul>
    37. 38. <ul><li>The message? </li></ul><ul><li>The delivery? </li></ul><ul><li>An idea whose time had come? </li></ul>
    38. 39. <ul><li>M oney - lots of it </li></ul><ul><li>People – lots of them </li></ul><ul><li>Time – lot of it </li></ul><ul><li>Data – lots of it </li></ul><ul><li>Single contact point </li></ul><ul><ul><li>one credible spokesperson </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus – global, but local impact </li></ul>
    39. 40.
    40. 41. <ul><li>Identified a hazard that was real today…but it used to be unthinkable yesterday. </li></ul><ul><li>Identified how anyone could make a difference through changing their behaviour in simple ways. </li></ul><ul><li>It made sense today. </li></ul>
    41. 42. <ul><li>It got people to think about the unthinkable. </li></ul><ul><li>But…how to get people to think the unthinkable before it hits them in the face? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the message? </li></ul>
    42. 43. <ul><li>Market – who are we ‘selling’ to? </li></ul><ul><li>Brand – who are we, what is the field, what do we do, what do we stand for? </li></ul><ul><li>Message – what are we ‘selling’? </li></ul><ul><li>Promise – what is our ‘promise’ and what are our ‘promise points’? </li></ul><ul><li>Solution – how do we help? </li></ul>
    43. 44. <ul><li>Simple – immediately ‘getable’ </li></ul><ul><li>Unexpected – arouse interest and curiosity </li></ul><ul><li>Concrete – same meaning to everyone </li></ul><ul><li>Credible – audience can confirm credibility </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional – audience feels something </li></ul><ul><li>Stories – makes the message easier to recall </li></ul><ul><li>Chip and Dan Heath, Ideas that Stick, 2007 </li></ul>
    44. 45. <ul><li>Type 1: what is the right thing to do? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 2: how can I help? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 3: what would make me look good? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 4: how can I make it better? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 5: what is the best use of my time? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 6: what will make me safe? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 7: what options are there again? </li></ul><ul><li>Type 8: let me tell you how… (no questions!) </li></ul><ul><li>Type 9: what will suit most people? </li></ul>
    45. 46. <ul><li>A sustainable future </li></ul><ul><li>And future generations </li></ul><ul><li>It’s about people... </li></ul>Don’t care, never will Can be convinced Get it straight away Dislike you Indifferent Love you
    46. 47. Don’t care, never will Can be convinced Get it straight away Dislike you Indifferent Love you Use these people
    47. 48. Don’t care, never will Can be convinced Get it straight away Dislike you Indifferent Love you Use these people Keep these people in sight
    48. 49. Don’t care, never will Can be convinced Get it straight away Dislike you Indifferent Love you Spend time here Use these people Keep these people in sight
    49. 50. <ul><li>How do we ‘sell’ the foresight message to the indifferent? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we learn anything from marketing that might help? </li></ul>
    50. 51. <ul><li>Market – who are we ‘selling’ to? </li></ul><ul><li>Brand – who are we, what is the field, what do we do, what do we stand for? </li></ul><ul><li>Message – what are we ‘selling’? </li></ul><ul><li>Promise – what is our ‘promise’ and what are our ‘promise points’? </li></ul><ul><li>Solution – how do we help? </li></ul>
    51. 52. <ul><li>The journalist – take control of the request, focus on what they want; cultivate the media to build relationships, meet their needs </li></ul>
    52. 53. <ul><li>Autocracy vs democracy; authority to speak </li></ul><ul><li>Talk at the level of the audience to help them ‘get it’. </li></ul><ul><li>Depends on individual practitioner – so need an expert directory for futurists to use to refer requests (eg who is a trend spotter?) </li></ul>
    53. 54. <ul><li>Thinking about what wasn’t there today </li></ul><ul><li>Framing as metaphors </li></ul><ul><li>Foresight as a present tense activity – relating it to decisions today – that they are making already (eg tram tickets, everyday tools for planning) </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is a futurist </li></ul><ul><li>Planning is a futures activity </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t over-engineer the message </li></ul><ul><li>The future as fear, then anticipation, then hope – what is the disposition to the future? </li></ul><ul><li>Hope lives in the future </li></ul><ul><li>Tailor it for different people – so focus on market </li></ul>
    54. 55. <ul><li>Futures as a continuum – like HR and other professions, what is the core concept? </li></ul><ul><li>Individual marketing – badge yourself carefully </li></ul><ul><li>Aust: Inside first, outside second – USA: outward change first, inward change second </li></ul><ul><li>Degrees of change – out there or in here – do it properly or do it quick? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the message targeted at the individual or at the organisation? </li></ul>