One of the biggest challenges for marketers is realizing what and when to change. For some, being objective enough to realize it in the first place can be a challenge in itself.
Time after time, marketers right now (and essentially whole businesses and industries) are being exposed for not seeing the time to change and not doing anything differently when the market around them is evolving. Automakers, financial firms, TV networks — their whole strategies and cultures are being forced into a new reality. There are many other businesses teetering on the brink of disaster in this tough economy.
The challenge for marketers in avoiding this position, yet again, is to stay close to your customers. Become uber-knowledgable about what they do, think and feel. Do research, site visits, meetings and observation. You have to see the change coming before it knocks you off your feet. Ask the tough questions, make informed yet forward-thinking risks.
At one of my events recently, we held a focus group that confirmed existing perceptions of customer needs and exposed new needs. We are making changes to address those needs at our very next event. We anticipated a fall-off in registrations for live events in the current economy, so we began webcasting our live events. Could that affect live event registrations even more? Sure it could. Yet why risk serving no customers at all, when you can reinvent yourself in a stronger position to serve them differently, according to their own needs?
It’s not an admission of defeat to change ahead and shift your strategy to leave the old way behind — it’s actually much more customer-centric (and less publicly messy) to recreate your value proposition on your own terms, than reacting and scrambling when your customers have changed it for you.