THE IMPATIENCE ECONOMY™: 15 Keys to Success in Social Retail Marketing

In today’s Impatience Economy, slight modifications to your business model will not be adequate to survive or thrive. Traditional status quo marketing methods and models must be entirely and rapidly refashioned.

Your mindset must change. You need to see the marketplace for what it is, not what it was.

In summary, here are 15 keys to success in Social Retail Marketing.

  1. Speed is essential. “Buy Now” has been replaced by “Get Now.” Impatient consumers expect instant access, instant discovery, instant delivery, instant gratification, instant everything. The pace is accelerating. You need to keep up.
  2. Marketing 101 won’t work. Forget about traditional approaches. TV, radio, and print are expensive and imprecise.
  3. Change the channel. Consumers spend close to three hours per day on social media. You have access to 1/8th of their day. Your competitors will be taking advantage of this opportunity. You must do the same.
  4. Social Retail Marketing (SRM) is the key. As of 2020, Amazon Prime had 156 million subscribers. By selling on social media, you have the potential to connect with over 4 billion consumers.
  5. Consumers choose. They have never had a greater range of choices about what they buy and how they buy it, what they’ll tolerate and what they won’t. You can adjust to this new paradigm—or you can line up behind J Crew, Neiman Marcus, Hertz, and the growing list of bankrupt firms.
  6. Change directions. Traditionally, companies would broadcast a one-size-fits-all ad and wait for the consumers to come to them. Today, the traffic pattern is reversed. You have to meet consumers where they live: inside social media. If you’re waiting for consumers to flock to your website or app, your business will not thrive.
  7. Relationships precede sales. Modern consumers reject overt, unadorned messages that shout, “Buy me!” Businesses need to earn the consumer’s trust before they display their wares. You must establish an emotional connection with consumers and demonstrate that your values align with theirs.
  8. Stories and experiences build relationships. Taking consumers on a journey, creating a story in which they want to hear more from you—these are the keys to developing trust. Narratives have power. Storytellers make money.
  9. Virtual is the new reality. Augmented and virtual reality enable us to test products from the comfort of our living rooms. I predict that SRM will soon account for 80 percent of all sales, and brick-and-mortar will shrink to 20 percent. Unless you change your mindset, your customer base will evaporate.
  10. Friction is fatal. The consumer’s tolerance for frustration is at an all-time low. Driving to a store, opening and closing multiple apps, negotiating a long series of clicks are enough to cost you a sale. Consumers want the convenience of making a purchase inside their social media feed as they chat with friends.
  11. Build platform-specific campaigns. You can’t simply take your traditional TV and print ads and slap them on social media. You can’t even develop a generic social media approach. Instagram isn’t Facebook. TikTok isn’t YouTube. WhatsApp isn’t Twitter. Each platform requires a new campaign attuned to the constraints of its format and the preferences of its users.
  12. Think micro not macro. To succeed in the modern marketplace, you need to build hundreds of themes that consistently promote your brand, your philosophy, and your image. Each post should be a stage of a micro-journey that leaves the consumer eager for the next installment—like chapters in a novel.
  13. Stop trusting your gut: make data-driven decisions. Your gut is a dowser’s stick, a divining rod, a vestige from an era that lacked scientific tools. If you rely on a mystical forked-stick to find water, you’ll eventually die of thirst. Data analytics are the business equivalent of the hydrologist’s seismometers and geologic maps.
  14. Respect consumers’ rights. SRM is based on trust. Any shortcut you take will squander that trust and jeopardize your long-term success. Unethical behavior will also invite heavy handed government intervention.
  15. Adopt the motto “digital everything”. Train yourself to eat, drink, sleep, think, and dream digital. To meet consumer’s needs, you need to shift your frame of reference, let go of what worked in the past, and launch yourself into the exciting and profitable future of Social Retail Marketing.

My goal in summarizing these 15 keys to success in SRM is to convince you to aim for where marketing is going, not where it was prior to the paradigm shift of The Impatience Economy—and to take full advantage of new financial realities.

In the 1860s, when the world first became connected by the transcontinental railroad, the transatlantic cable, and the Suez Canal, America’s greatest and most democratic poet, Walt Whitman saw what no other writer at the time could see: the power of technology to connect us in triumphant and liberating ways. I’ll end with Whitman’s potent and poetic call to action—his injunction to put down the book, fulfill your potential, and see beyond the achievements of the present to the grander triumphs yet to come—if you are brave enough to seek them.

Are thy wings plumed for such far flights?
Passage, immediate passage! The blood burns in my veins! …
Hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out, shake out every sail.
Have we not stood here long enough? …
Have we not darkened and dazed ourselves with books long enough?
Sail forth—steer for the deep waters only …
For we are bound for where mariner has not yet dared to go…
O farther, farther, farther sail! 1

1 Walt Whitman, Whitman: Poetry and Prose
(New York: Library of America, 1982)