Marketing is Changing Fast – Don’t Get Run Over

My head spins at least once a week these days. I read or hear about a new social media platform and have to determine “is this relevant?” If not, does it have the potential to be relevant? Or is it just somebody that got a pile of venture capital and is spending like a drunken sailor?

My agencies clients rely on us to guide them, and that means I have to learn enough to know if I’m looking at the replacement for Facebook, or the next Webvan. (if you are under the age of 30, Webvan was one of the early high profile busts back in 2001.)

I read a lot because it helps me stay abreast of how marketing is changing. There’s a lot of commentary about the death of traditional media, the death of email, the death of direct mail, the death of newspapers, etc.

The Yellow Pages have already died. Or did they?

Google seems an awful lot like the yellow pages, except in real time. With better pictures. And your fingers don’t get smudged with the ink from the flimsy pages.

The death of traditional media is greatly exaggerated, but how and where it’s consumed is evolving. The one common element in all this change is fragmentation. People get their news and entertainment from dozens of different websites, tv news channels, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, radio, podcasts and live streaming services like Periscope. They still want information, they just want it at their convenience.    

As marketers and/or business owners the question becomes how do we stay on top of the change and not get run over by a large bus with the destination NEXT WEEK. How do we get our message out to the desired audience and engage or otherwise entice them to engage with us?

The short and simplistic answer is to test, track and evaluate all your efforts.

Now the hard part… learning what to test, track and evaluate. This brings us back to reading, preferably on a daily basis. Find four to six resources that you enjoy reading and subscribe to their updates. People and resources I read regularly that I like (which is why I keep reading, watching or listening to them) are:

I add and delete subscriptions as I find things I like better. I also have several industry specific publications I receive updates from that are relevant to client verticals.

So how quickly are things changing? I’ve gone to the Internet Summit, a big event on the East Coast, for about the last five years. Each year I learned strategies and came away with ideas. Until two years ago (2013). My knowledge level was on par with most of the speakers I heard. That’s not good.

I wasn’t going to go to the Summit in 2014, but a vendor we work with said “Hey, we can get this big company to pay for your ticket.” So I went. And I learned more than I had at any of the previous Summits.

The pace of change isn’t slowing down, it’s picking up. I was almost lulled into a false sense of security. What you need to test, track and evaluate is evolving.

Spend a little time today searching for bloggers, websites and information sources that will help you understand where marketing is going. Subscribe to those you like. The learning process has to be ongoing or you’ll be lifting your head up off the road to see the rear license plate of the bus as it rumbles down the road. If you work with an ad agency, it’s just as important to read enough to ask intelligent questions. If your agency isn’t keeping up, hold their feet to the fire. My clients do, and while it scares the crap out of me at times, it keeps me on my toes.


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