The New Marketing Chaos Theory

If you haven’t heard of Chaos Theory or The Butterfly Effect, (in ultra-simplified terms) they go something like this: Chaos Theory basically describes a system that is highly sensitive to it’s initial conditions. A system in which the outcome looks like it’s random, even though the systems’ dynamics are already fully determined. The Butterfly Effect, which comes from the phrase, “If a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Shanghai, you get rain in New York instead of sun.” describes that degree of sensitivity.

New Marketing is a what you would call “a chaotic system”.

Take this ridiculous story of GameSpot firing a longstanding employee for giving a game, one that had bought a large amount of advertising, a bad review.

Did they really think that this wouldn’t get out? That it wouldn’t spread around the internet like wildfire, incensing the devoted, tight-knit group of gamers who visit these sites all the time?

Obviously not.

One small (or big, depending on perspective) decision dramatically influenced the life of GameSpot, with many users canceling their subscriptions or boycotting the site all together. All this bad publicity, this “storm”, if you will, came out of the butterfly-wing decision to act.

The other major tenet of the Chaos Theory states that while the results appear random, they aren’t entirely.

Just like chaos, New Marketing is not completely random either. What person familiar with new media/marketing wouldn’t have predicted the backlash against GameSpot or Facebook Beacon? How can you dispute that giving your biggest fans the means to spread the word is a good thing? Who doesn’t agree that in order to be successful in social media, a company has to give up total control of the message?

These guidelines are the “dynamics” that make New Marketing work. Guidelines, not specific tactics (A2S over X%, heavy banner rotation during the holidays, etc.) are what’s important.

And while following these guidelines will give you a general idea of where you’re heading, remember, New Marketing is a little bit order, and a little bit chaos.

Let’s see where it takes us.

5 thoughts on “The New Marketing Chaos Theory”

  1. I strongly believe in this theory. Many times I wonder how my life would look like if 10 years ago I would have chosen a different job, or a different friend, or simply a different answer to an apparently simple question. What if you choose today to participate in my group writing project? Who knows where your blog will be in ten years from now ;)

  2. To become smaller and more efficient, to find ways to serve advertisers better with more relevance and data, to fight like hell for the ad dollars that are there – and to do all this before advertisers break their media habit by doing what they should have been doing all along: building collaborative relationships with their customers.

  3. The name “chaos theory” comes from the fact that the systems that the theory describes are apparently disordered, but chaos theory is really about finding the underlying order in apparently random data.
    Standard article.

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