When it comes to ever-evolving technologies and tools, the world will not slow down and apparently, we cannot speed up enough to catch it — making us perpetual novices in the face of changing marketing tools. In light of this, the only real answer is to heighten our ability to deal with hyper-change by perceptually slowing it down to a conceivable rate. In combination, the following strategies can prove to be beneficial:
Don’t get bogged down in the way you used to do things — three- to five-year high-level marketing plans, divided into 12-month sections and based on strict schedules. Such approaches may have worked well in the past, but they are far too rigid for today. Programs can have broad contours, but it’s better to think in terms of weeks — not years. Also, forget about having perfect information before you act. Today, such perfection comes with a high price — prospects that are sucked up by aggressive competitors, or the loss of coveted “first-mover” status. Besides, as Malcolm Gladwell has noted, there are times “when our snap judgments and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world.”
To avoid being spotted by an enemy, military aircraft can spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminum called chaff, which either appears as a cluster of secondary targets on a radar screen or swamps the screen entirely. Companies today must be able to see which new trends and technologies should be targeted by their organizations and which are “marketing chaff.” Do you have a process for identifying salience (e.g., appropriateness to your organization) of oncoming change? A simple “gut check” may have sufficed at one time, but something more formal is in order now. Try developing strategic filters with which to review new trends and technology — long-term impact vs. short-term impact, highly aligned with business strategy vs. less aligned, etc. The better your vetting process, the more focused you can be on what matters most.
A distinction needs to be drawn between information marketers get bombarded with everyday and information they should actually use. In fact, the processing overload that fuels perceptual novice syndrome can, in many cases, be viewed as “skeptical underload” — the problem is not so much the speed and volume of information, but our difficulty discerning bias in that information if we are not authorities on a certain subject. In an era of accelerated change, it is critical to not lose your “North Star” — the precepts that govern good marketing. These should serve as a litmus test when you are engulfed in the hype of a new tool, social media gateway or methodology. Yes, look closely at harnessing the advantages of the next new thing, but always keep one eye on the fundamentals.
While it’s nearly impossible to master every new tool and trend, keeping these three strategies in mind can help you avoid tunnel vision and get the most out of new technologies that can help propel your business.