Things evolve. They must. Change or die.
But to what extent, and in what direction must they, and do they change? They change to the users, the will of the people. Although I don’t want to be envisioned as a street bum walking around with an ‘A-board’ over him yelling, “The End Is Near,” I predict that the internet as we know it today will change to the point of dissolving, and something completely new will take its place. The impetus for this change is the way we do business today. And the number of users that are not just customers of that business but are quickly becoming business people themselves.
Noted author and economist Paul Pilzer brought to light ‘planned obsolescence’ in his book “God Wants You To Be Rich.” He speaks of the demise of carburetors to pave the way for fuel injection. Of the demise of the LP record and the 8-track to give way to the cassette, and then on to the CD. He then broadens his argument from specific items of commerce to whole industries. He uses the movie “The Graduate” to illustrate how the ‘next big thing’ was then – plastics. At that point, Pilzer predicts that the next big thing’ for us is transportation. For large regional hubs supporting and supplying just-in-time manufacturing. Large ‘super trucks’ go from hub to hub to supply the regional manufacturers.
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We are already seeing the outcomes of Pelzer’s predictions. Plastics are largely considered a nuisance in landfills; plastic bags are being outlawed at grocery stores. A few recyclers are in place for plastics. They are still expensive to set up and run at this point. But demand will override costs and someone will find a way to make them very profitable. And an end to plastics in landfills will emerge. In the transportation sector, we are seeing a push for more rail freight. This to alleviate multiple trucks on the crowded highways with a single rail car. A major drawback to this is the timing – the speed with which a truck can get from a specific place to a specific destination versus rail freight.
Currently, the trains need to have the freight offloaded to trucks. But what if those railcars were sent to radio-friendly super hubs.’ And the smaller expediter trucks took it from the regional super hubs to the end-user, just-in-time. The current trucks would grow slightly to support the large warehouses being built now in the industrial parks. That would give rise to and the time for the necessary rail systems to be upgraded to supply these super hub warehouses. Talk to a commercial realtor. The warehouses are being built because they are profitable! Pilzer’s predictions are coming true.
A concern of the rail support for super hubs is arguably the retail segment. Manufacturing can ‘order out’ the goods and raw materials needed for everyday operations. But retail and most service industries operate on a much tighter schedule of a producer to customer. That will be addressed in time when the rail supply system to the super hubs takes the foot. For retail marketing follows manufacturing. What happens in manufacturing is mirrored in retail marketing. And so it will be with the internet and internet marketing. It isn’t the relationship of instant internet marketing to the offsetting stockpile of products necessary to supply that marketing. It’s the internet use and the marketing itself.
To paint you a point of reference for this prediction, I want you to picture a medium-sized town where the local manufacturing plant, or ‘the mill,’ pulled out of town. The plant was the lifeblood of the community. The associated service industries were there to give the wage earners and their families a place to spend their money. To buy the goods and to improve their stations in life. Then one day, the plant shuts down. The mill pulls out. And then what happens? The high-priced wage earner then goes to work (or tries to go to work) at the minimum wage job. Suddenly they cannot afford even to buy the things they are selling. They are at a maintenance level of income. The downward spiral has started.
And in a few short years, those communities are unable to support themselves. Vacant buildings become constant reminders of the trouble the town is experiencing. Even worst, they then become bastions of illegal activities. It’s never pretty. The point I’m illustrating here is the displacement of the high-paid worker to the low-paid position. And the massive influx of those workers. The service industry can only absorb so many. Then as the remaining displaced workers can no longer afford to patronize those service establishments, they too go out of business.
To breathe life into that community, a giant financial shot in the arm is needed. More service level jobs will not do it. The entrepreneur thinks that a McDonald’s is a sure bet everywhere else and therefore will be a good bet in the downward spiraling town for a shock and a disaster. In the physical world, you can see that. Anybody would see that the town is on the skids, and the economic base probably won’t support [in this case] another fast-food restaurant. But in the internet world, the virtual world, we cannot see that.
What we do see is the ‘jump on the bandwagon’ mentality of the over-eager internet entrepreneur. And the subsequent overpopulation of the online marketplace. “If he made money at it. I can too!” I can sit in my pajamas and conduct business at the same level as a fortune 500 company with untold amounts of employees. “Just look at all the success stories I’ve read on the internet about it!” The lure of easy money without the ability to truly do accurate research is more than most can resist. And so they pile on it like players in a rugby scrum.
Internet business start-up kits and affiliate programs make it super simple to begin an online marketing career. But without the prerequisite training that usually accompanies a traditional business, the pajama-clad entrepreneurs start seeing a bumpy road. Then they instinctively start reaching out for help. Talking to other internet marketers, on forums and in comments on blogs and websites. Aggressive marketers reading the need for help build whole sales programs around offering help to the new internet business person, for a price.
The person in need has sent out a request, asked a question, not in private, to a trusted or even proven business adviser. But to anyone that may be viewing that URL. Anyone, and everyone. Marketers offer answers, with more sales attached. Competitors see the idea and try to adopt the next big idea’ to their marketing if it’s new to them. All the while with no clear indication of or care for results. Everyone is talking about it, promoting it, and suddenly selling it. It doesn’t have to be the new product; it can be a derivative of it. A how-to-use its book, a ‘better mousetrap’ product, a review of the product or program – for a price.
We’re all talking about it to no end. But are there any actual sales? For the original product, or for the many, many offshoots that almost instantly try to jump on the bandwagon? There sure is a ‘buzz’ about it. And buzz means sales! Right? Social media is blossoming into the ‘talker not.’ News pages have to have a social media presence so we can talk about the stories. Corporations have to have a social media presence to talk about their products and thus build brand awareness. Individuals have a social media presence to talk about themselves, and we can see – them. It is all about ‘them’ in social media.
OK, I see you. Does that mean I’m going to buy from you or your business? Let’s talk about it some more… Internet businesses are now seeing the ‘buzz’ happening in social media, and to get in front of the customers, they are going to contribute to every social media platform available. In light of that, whole industries are adapting their businesses to meet the change. Google is changing how they weigh your web offering and penalizing those sights that want to tell you about it’ rather than offer any substantial product or service. The talking stops there.
Article factories are being penalized. The kind that reviews, and reports on a product or service, sell you that item, or generates ad revenue from page hits. If you don’t have a product, you’re not in business. You’re just talking about it. And while that may garner you a certain income, the tides are turning against you being famous for just ‘talking about it’. The blurred lines that exist today will soon become crystal clear. Social media will be indeed that, a social platform. Business will emerge again as a traditional, albeit electronic business. Those who like to talk about it will be content to have a platform where they can talk all they want.