That's the question a wise friend (and successful business owner) reminded me of as I shared my experiences as a consultant helping clients understand how today's marketing approach is vastly different from even five years ago.
Despite long conversations, advice, and examples shared, for many clients their reality is focused on keeping existing realities of today going. Proactively shaping tomorrow is near impossible.
To be fair, the clients I'm fortunate to work with are superheroes in their jobs. They are actively trying to do both and essentially drink from a firehose as a result. But, unfortunately, they are at the brink of capacity every day, which isn't sustainable. Even if they raised a red flag about the inevitable cliff quickly approach (that is if you intend on reaching anyone with a mobile device), the reality remains company cultures or decision-making processes often slow progress.
It is what it is and yet managing business as usual while trying to champion evolution (often with limited budgets) is a tough place to be, especially when you are a small to medium-size business or association. You can't do it all right away.
But as my friend reminded me, that’s no excuse to stop... "How serious are you about reaching your goals?"
It's a good question. It puts today vs. tomorrow into check, if not provides a reality check.
Do you want to focus energy staring at the barriers (e.g., current budgets, internal politics) or put that same energy into what's possible, needs to be done, and how best to do it in order to come out ahead?
Size of your organization doesn't matter. What does matter? A vision, a plan how to get there, plus an internal commitment to do what works to ultimately come out ahead.
A VISUAL LOOK AT WHAT'S CHANGING
There are, of course, more nuances to this, but here's a quick visual look at the shifts taking place.
Traditional marketing used to represent the way an organization operated and existed in the world. It relied on a "marketing funnel" that guided potential consumers to a specific decision, even creating need in the marketplace using traditional communication channels. While there was audience tailoring and targeting, compared to what's possible today this was more of a mass marketing approach.
With the digital era, came a new way to reach people online. Websites were essentially digitized brochures that allowed for more content and proof points to be "pushed" out or linked to consumers.
Websites could also do something printed brochures couldn't -- a better job of targeting key audiences thanks to search engine optimization (SEO) and the vast knowledge found on the Internet Content became a bit more specific and bloggers (everyday journalist and content creators) were birthed. In this era, websites and marketing still represented how the organization operated and prioritized internally. This is an important point.
Then came mobile devices... hence, the mobile era we are now in.
In this era, our assumption has been to naturally insert mobile and social media as additional channels. In other words, we layer "mobile and social" tactics (including mobile ready websites and clever content) on top of the traditional funnel to get targeted personas (audiences) to spread the word about "us".
The problem is, it doesn't work this way.
Even though logical in thinking (and appears to be the easiest way to manage), it is ineffective and long-term costly to fix -- in brand equity, time and resources.
These two articles ("More than digital plus traditional" and "The consumer decision journey") from McKinsey & Company explain why.
I have always believed in and seen the proven benefit of not drinking the Kool-Aid when approaching a problem or opportunity. There is a thing called "group think," which in the everyday of running an organization looks like heads down and people choosing the path of least resistance until quitting time.
We can put pool tables and coffee bars in our organizations in support of creativity, but those gestures really fall short of what really pushes organizations and its people to put its best foot forward. What's more effective? Giving permission to think, expand, attempt and fail. Yes, fail. Failure is the only way - personally and organizationally - to succeed.
If "managed" (aka flexibility and agility of teams) and an emphasis on the pursuit of excellence and success, team efforts can take organizations to new stratospheres -- just as we did reaching the moon.
Rather than focusing on our "to do" lists as a day well spent, why not step aside to reflect and learn -- to sit in a new environment, read or listen to something new that's compelling, and/or journal -- at least once a month. The research on the benefits of doing so is out there.
In the everyday:
Two resources that can help jump start your understanding:
This is the Gokotta Group's blog.
It is the place for us to make note of changing times, new ways of thinking, and provide examples of how greater impact is being created. It's also a spot we can focus on people. And, occasionally, showcase the type of projects the Gokotta team supports (see "Case Studies" below).