The 5 Strategies Every Master of Momentum Knows
Whether you’re selling a brand, product, ideology or yourself, cultural relevance is the currency of success, and every marketer and their mother promises they can help you get it.
But what exactly is “it”? That elusive factor that sends one entity on a rising trajectory while the competition falls flat?
It, in a word, is momentum. In our content-saturated, fast-moving world, momentum is what drives the success of every trend and movement shaping culture. When you have momentum, people seek you out and want to work with you, are willing to pay more for you, give you permission to innovate and forgive you when you try new things and fail.
When you don’t have momentum, it could be because you’ve stopped paying attention and putting proactive effort towards maintaining it, the competition has taken it, or you didn’t lean into the forces and use them to your advantage.
Keeping the momentum going eludes most because they are still using irrelevant tools and thinking about success with an outdated mindset. We are living in a new, momentum-driven world. You can’t master the Momentum World until you understand the rules.
The Actions that Create Momentum
Everyone strives for momentum in marketing, sports, culture, politics, but (outside of physics) it has always been a feeling, it’s never been quantified. And then 11 simple words changed it all:
Click. Tap. Swipe. Scroll. Like. Share. Follow. Friend. Message. Text. Tweet
These 11 actions created the Momentum World where Momentum Masters rule and the rest of us are left behind playing catch-up. Where new forces every day can impact our momentum.
These new 11 actions are also creating new sources of data. Data that can be decoded into knowledge. Knowledge that provides insights. Insights that lead to understanding.
Yet, a lot of us are feeling the pain of the Momentum World. With so many data points out there, it’s overwhelming. Most don’t know how to make sense of or leverage it. So many of today’s metrics are old school. Brands and the research companies that serve them are trying to hold on to the past. Measuring behavior and opinion the same way they did last century. Stuck in silos, incapable of integrating varied datasets.
It’s time to adopt a new mindset.
A Formula for the Momentum Mindset
The formula for momentum is not new. In fact, I learned it in high school physics class. It goes all the way back to Sir Isaac Newton:
P=M*V. Where Momentum equal Mass * Velocity.
What’s new is how we can apply the formula of momentum to our modern world. Momentum is no longer just how we measure the motion of a moving object. In our Momentum World, momentum is how we quantify cultural relevance. Mass becomes the volume of the conversation and velocity is the speed in which it travels.
In the momentum mindset, you need to be living in the future, thinking 18–24 months out. You have to know where you’re headed, anticipate the forces that will get in your way, and visualize how your momentum will get you there.
People in the momentum mindset understand the new paradigm and leverage these 5 drivers to fuel their momentum:
- Polarization: Discussions powered by strong points of view, or even controversy are good
- Innovation: Create something new and/or improved in a way that creates FOMO, people want to constantly be part of what you are creating
- “Sticky” Issue: Being memorable in an unexpected way
- Disruption: Challenging and changing the game
- Social Impact: Connecting to a larger purpose
If you get into the momentum mindset and look at the new data actions through this lens, the data doesn’t become an abundance — it becomes useful — you can leverage the data to drive your momentum.
Decoding Data into Momentum
I created our new company Decode_M to arm brands, businesses and individuals with the intel they need to thrive in our Momentum World. We’re a fast-moving, completely new kind of consumer insights and technology company that’s using data in disruptive ways to measure momentum and give clients a way forward.
Our data science team has developed an innovative, proprietary methodology to measure cultural momentum of brands, products, movements and people. We’re breaking down the silos of data science, public opinion data, market research and CRM into more robust solutions, and decoding big data in ways traditional research can’t.
Decode_M is founded on the core belief that Everything is knowable, you just have to know where to look. Because, when you know what works and what’s fueling your momentum, you’ve got the formula to get ahead and stay there.
To better understand the forces that move a company or idea forward, let’s break down one of the biggest momentum makers we’ve studied and apply the momentum mindset.
CBD Acceptance: a Study in Momentum
What drives a “drug” the country has waged war on to become so ubiquitous you can buy it at the mall?
The momentum behind CBD has fueled a shift from Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” to a culture that is widely receptive to its benefits, available everywhere from Sephora and Ulta to Walgreens and your corner store. And now THC is gaining acceptance as well. Since 2017, we’ve seen CBD go through 2 evolutions of momentum, and it’s time for its next innovation to drive a 3rd wave of momentum, or it risks falling away as a fad or being absorbed into culture, losing its intrigue.
Momentum 1.0: CBD experienced its first wave as a momentum maker when niche brands leaned into and leveraged some of the key drivers of momentum:
1. Polarization: Old school perception was CBD = Cannabis = hippie drug that gets you high
2. Innovative: A natural ingredient (that had been around for centuries) that leveraged existing benefits and re introduced them in a new and unexpected way. Created FOMO because it was still seen as a risky and taboo ingredient that was hard to get your hands on — not everyone could get it, so more wanted it.
3. Sticky: An exciting concept that turned people’s perception on its head. It coincided with the natural and clean movements / trend, so by introducing CBD as a natural ingredient, it helped consumers think about the ingredient in a new way.
The challenge for products containing CBD was different than expected at the time — rather than having to convince consumers the product wouldn’t get you high, the challenge was to explain the ingredient in a non-gimmicky way, and to get to market fast enough to be viewed as an innovator. Risk tolerant companies that came out in front rode this first wave of momentum, winning innovation points and market share.
Momentum 2.0: CBD’s next wave of momentum was driven by mainstream brands and stores accepting it as an ingredient and scaling it to become ubiquitous and mainstream.
The downside to this acceptance? It’s no longer seen as innovative.
So how will companies keep the momentum going?
Momentum 3.0: Decoding the data, we see the next wave of momentum for CBD coming from brands and products focusing on the specific occasions, applications and use cases for the ingredient, rather than positioning it more broadly as a miracle drug.
CBD is a great example of the Momentum Mindset, which requires being future-focused, thinking 18–24 months out. We began studying cannabis’ momentum back in 2017, before it had infiltrated consumer products, enabling our clients to leverage the innovation factor.
The takeaway? Wait too long and miss the opportunity to capitalize on momentum.