You know, the annoying thing about clichés is that they’re based in truth, even though that truth may be a bit worn in places. And lately I’ve been very aware of the idiom “the only constant is change” as it relates to business and especially to marketing.
Maybe it’s always been this way and our parents and grandparents had to wrestle with constant change too, but it seems to me that the acceleration curve has gotten incredibly steep over the last 15 or 20 years.
For example, when I started my career, computers were certainly a part of the mix but we never showed a client a computer-generated layout. We’d take mock ups that were drawn in pencil and very rough. Today, we upload PDFs to our extranet and they look practically finished before we’ve even begun.
I get it…I’m the first one to espouse the convenience of our new way of doing business. I love that we can work with clients (and partners) from all over the world – digitally sharing files, ideas and collaborating.
So while I long for the showmanship of the old days, I do appreciate what we have today. But sometimes it also makes me a little tired to think about.
Here’s our reality as business people. It’s never done. No matter how successful your business is – it’s in transition. Every day.
There’s a new technology or a new consumer trend right around every corner. And to stay relevant and profitable, there’s no hiding from them.
Today and tomorrow, I am leading a marketing workshop and one of the things we’ll talk about is mobile and how quickly it became a key element in any marketing strategy. I know what I’ll see. While some of them were anticipating this tsunami of a trend, others were either not ready for it or aren’t looking forward to facing it.
So how do we keep up? How do we stay current and able to anticipate what the next change is going to be so we can get a running start?
Read. Do you know that most business leaders don’t read anything more than their local newspaper? Are you kidding me? Turn off the TV and read a book a month. Find the top ten blogs in your field and subscribe to them. Find the most controversial, far out there publication or blog in your industry an subscribe to that too. It’s better to anticipate too much than get blinded by something.
Attend. Trade show and professional development attendance has been dropping since the recession took a big bite out of everyone’s travel budgets. It’s time to put some money back on that line item. You need to go and listen to experts. You need to hang out with peers and share stories and resources.
Teach. One of the best ways to learn is to commit to teach others. Make sure your entire staff is ready for what’s coming. More important, teach them how to recognize the trends and track them, so you don’t have to be the only one doing it. If you know you have to conduct a class, even if it’s an informal one, you’re much more likely to keep sharp.
There are lots of ways to stay current but it all starts with the attitude of recognizing that it’s a part of your job and it’s one of the ways you keep your company relevant and profitable.
In our world…you either keep up or you quickly become irrelevant. Don’t be the marketing pro who is still spouting off about the latest and greatest — from 5 years ago. Find a way to stay current and keep your clients/business there too.