Social Media & Influencer Marketing

The Manufacturing of Ideas

For hundreds of years, the definition of productive required that there be a manufacturing line taking a product from raw materials to goods for market. Wealth was measured in tons and footage and inventory. Banks loaned money based on how many assets that you had. Our education system prepared our youth to show up on time, get in line to do a job, and the workers were split… blue color got their hands dirty and white collar supervised.

Our politicians lament that we’ve lost the manufacturing jobs… that they’ve gone overseas to areas with cheaper labor and no regulations. They’re all scrambling to bring them back. Bring them back to whom? Our children are deep in debt after financing the best educations on the planet. They’re graduating directly into unemployment. Businesses aren’t hiring… they’re still laying off people.

The manufacturing of goods is not returning. Even with that truth becoming a reality, our banks, our leaders, and our system still judge success based on how many widgets they deliver and the demand for those widgets. Whether it’s mobile phones or lines of code, productivity is still based off of a product. But manufacturing products is no longer what we’re great at, nor can we do it affordably given the wealth of our country.

Concurrently, with the advent of digital media, we’re witnessing a new market. The marketplace of ideas. Inexpensive computing and connectivity has created the highways for us to transport those ideas. At Highbridge, we have clients as far as Switzerland, designers in Romania, researchers in India, and we’re manufacturing ideas here in the United States. We’ve developed a unique and productized means of auditing, implementing and measuring inbound success with our clients.

We tend to think of ideation as one step leading to a product. That’s doesn’t need to be the case at all. Ideation can be the product. There are plenty of companies, including many of our clients, that invest in our ideas. Sure, there’s often a tangible deliverable that comes along with those… audits, infographics, analysis, blog posts. But many times, it’s simply an idea. And when we’re able to take that idea and convert it into a customer, that’s a business result that was worth the investment.

Our production line is packed, and the demand is growing. The problem, of course, is that the system doesn’t recognize the demand nor the product. The system still calls this a service. The system still believes that if I want to grow my business, that the only means of doing it is to grow my number of employees. There’s no loans for manufacturing ideas, no investment firms for manufacturing ideas, and no recognition on the results that were generated by those ideas.

This isn’t a complaint, this is an observation and a call to action. Everything we’ve been investing in all these years in Silicon Valley and in every University was to prepare us for this time… and we’re blowing it. We’re packing our children’s brains with the best educations but they lack the inspiration and the resources to take their ideas and run with them.

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There’s no better time to do this. We have a global economy where we can manufacture our ideas with incredible efficiency… gathering resources from every corner of the globe, utilize a host of free and cheap tools via the Internet to build our production lines, and deliver our ideas to sell in the market… not in months or years… but in hours and days.

Many would guilt people into thinking that, with almost 40 million people unemployed, this is the worst time to off-shore jobs. It’s not the worst time, it’s the best time. If you can take your idea, develop it, and deliver it with off-shore resources, you can get it to market and sell it faster and cheaper. If you can sell it, you can then reinvest that revenue and grow your business. That growth is what’s enabled us to hire an entire team here in Indianapolis.

In a couple weeks, we’re going live with a content system that will allow us to connect all our clients to over 160 resources throughout the world. Our team will build the workflows, assemble the teams, curate, and publish the content that’s developed through it. The end result is the highest quality product built quickly and affordably. We’re building our manufacturing lines!

It’s time for the political powers, financial powers and business powers to recognize the opportunities we have right in front of us. It’s time for our education system to inspire and educate our students – not just on how to think, but on how to bring their ideas to market. The marketplace for ideas has no limitations, it’s the largest marketplace there is.

We need to continue improving the tools for this market, fully utilizing the information superhighway that’s in place with more social, collaboration, workflow and teamwork tools that span the globe. We need to encourage and inspire the idea market. We need to invest in the idea market. There’s no better time than now than to get in the manufacturing industry… the manufacturing of ideas.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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