Usain Bolt: Sprinting toward macro trends

Wired notes that when Usain Bolt ran the 100-meter sprint in 9.69 seconds he startled biostatisticians who have been predicting for years how human speeds accelerate. It seems number-crunchers who look at macro trends can forecast new records with startling accuracy, using simple “curve fitting” shown above.

Bolt ran so fast he fell off the curve.

What’s remarkable to us is how few marketers look at such macro trends. Marketing campaigns are often structured tactically — set up integrated ad channels, web sites, call centers and field sales, all with forecasts for triggers and response. Spend $1 million at $100 cost per sale and you’ll end up with 10,000 customers. Simple.

But macro forces such as recession, changing energy prices, emerging media and aging demographics rumble the ground under such calculations. What worked yesterday won’t perform tomorrow. The internet is awash in free resources to watch such shifts: Google Trends shows global or regional search volumes for products and services; the brilliant Iowa Electronic Markets uses the wisdom of crowds to foresee political winners with 1.37% accuracy.

How are you predicting your own race finishers?

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