Having a clear plan and point of focus for your business and marketing goals is, of course, important. But it’s also important to be flexible enough to change those plans.
Let me tell you a quick story.
At 7 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a photographer. I did everything I thought that I needed to do to help me get me to that goal. I read every book on photography in our town’s library. I bought photographic magazines as if my life depended on it, and ingested every snippet of information that I could.
Throughout my formal education, many of the decisions that I made were based on my goal to be a photographer. For example, I took physics and chemistry rather than biology or geography, as they were going to be more useful when I planned to study Photography at college. Through a set of both fortuitous and convoluted events that followed, I did become a photographer (and more) founding and running a marketing media production company for five years.
But the problem with having such “tunnel vision” is that you’re often too narrow-minded. For me, that meant passing-up new opportunities simply because they didn’t “fit” with the existing plan that I had in my head, and was blindly working towards. For example, I decided not to study computing at school. Why? Well, I was going to be a photographer, right? So why what POSSIBLE use would computers have to a photographer??? Yeah, more fool me…
I would have liked to have put that down to the impetuousness of youth, but I’ve bet on more than a few Edsels since then. For example I couldn’t see the point of Facebook for a long time (even though I did get into Twitter pretty early), as I had falsely assumed that Facebook couldn’t help businesses with their marketing unless they were customer-facing (B2C) businesses. I finally succumbed in April 2009 – and have had my nose well and truly rubbed in it on a regular basis ever since.
When Apple first announced the iPad I didn’t see the point of the thing. There didn’t seem to be anything it could do that I couldn’t already do with my iPhone or iPod Touch. 60-odd million sales later, I’m clearly in the minority.
The moral of the story? Things change. Marketing changes. Your business changes. Get used to it.
Yes it’s important to have clear goals in your business for sales, marketing, communications and all the rest. But it’s also crucial to accept that, just around the corner, there could be something that could dramatically alter the trajectory of your business. Positively, as well as negatively.
Company Evolution Should Track Customer Evolution
The world is full of crumbling companies, as well as entire industries, that bet on things always staying the same. The record industry never thought that a computer company would up-end their business and change it forever, yet that’s exactly what Apple did in less than a decade. Kodak bet that people would always put light-sensitive film in their cameras. Blockbuster thought that people would always buy or rent films as physical media.
During a waning economy, either at a micro level (your business) or a macro one (the entire country), change is often the only thing that you’ve got left. The only thing that’s going to change the situation is changing the situation, but most people find that too difficult. They’re too set in their ways in maintaining the status quo.
If you’re not happy with the way things are going, what fundamental, radical, extra-ordinary changes are you prepared to make to your business to change things?