Embrace change or fail
My old dad, who turned 80 earlier this year, has never been one who likes change – in particular if the change is in anyway related to technology. Growing up in our small terraced house in the 60s and 70s was probably more akin to doing so in Victorian times: It was bleak (rarely decorated), cold (no central heating – still hasn’t), dirty (no vacuum cleaner I can recall) and days out thin on the ground on account of the fact there was no car – my dad has never learnt to drive.
Three years ago my dear mum past away, and months after that my dad, as could be expected, became somewhat reflective about his life. He questioned “what have I got to show for it?” – a reference to the fact that, other than his family and day-to-day existence, there really haven’t been too many highlights. And if ‘highlights’ for you and me are things like those memorable trips abroad for fun and adventure, well he didn’t do those because “flying is strictly for the birds son” (and if he’s said that to me once he’s said it a dozen times). In fact he’s never even left the shores of the UK.
Digital technology has entered our world at a frightening rate in the last decade or so, but it hasn’t entered the front door of that same house in south London, and sadly it won’t anytime soon.
Of course my dad isn’t alone here, though is increasingly in a minority and probably at the extreme end of it. It saddens me deeply because I feel he’s missed out on so much in life, and continues to do so (we live more than 600 miles apart, so a laptop and Skype his end would be more than a little handy)
Anyway, that’s the personal stuff for background out the way and I’m sure you can see where this is going…
Back in the spring I presented a brand and marketing strategy to a new client and it all seemed to go down well. The presentation was to the board of directors so I knew that if I got them ‘on board’ then all would be well. But it seems I didn’t quite succeed, because a week or so later the feedback came through that rather than investing in SEO as I’d recommended (which is absolutely critical in their main market) on generic market terms, they would instead stick to conventional press and radio advertising “so people will search for us using our brand name not general terms”. In addition, I was also told that “we’ve already spent quite a lot on the website so don’t want to spend any more for now” (like the world will stand still until the time is right for them…).
There are of course some fundamental reasons why their strategy is almost entirely flawed, but that isn’t really my point this month. The point is that their reasoning is being driven by a mind-set which resists change, and in so doing immediately means that the business operates at a competitive disadvantage.
Pre-digital, most businesses could be successful if they embraced change in their respective markets – that was the key (think UK car industry). But in a digital world that simply isn’t enough because keeping up with all things digital also means broadly keeping up with changes in society and how society behaves. In this particular case, whether my client likes it or not the fact is that Joe Public sits at home in front of their PC on the odd evening (or every evening) and weekends and searches for stuff and services they want to buy. Or they’ll do it from a mobile device sat on a train on their way to work, or they’ll do it enjoying a cappuccino and using a laptop or ipad in their local Starbucks.
And the shear pace of change means that for a business doing a bit of web development one day doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be doing a bit more tomorrow. In fact, if they don’t do a bit more tomorrow, chances are the bit they did today will already be out of date.
It’s a harsh new trading environment to work in, but those that embrace change will be the ones to succeed.
Me? Oh I’ve embraced change, I just need to sharpen my influencing skills so all my clients come with me. Still a shame about my old dad though.
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