The only constant in life is change.Heraclitus
Lately, I seem to like to write as much about life as about marketing. They’re intertwined. Like many a digital marketer, I wake up many days and check my stats from the day before. After some coffee, I begin adjusting the dials on the various components that drive those stats: ad copy, landing pages, social media posts, etc.
Then I scan the headlines. It makes me wonder why I’m bothering with any of it. The answer always comes. I’m doing it because it’s not a time to stop dreaming, to stop planning, to stop doing. If anything, it’s the exact opposite.
Back when I was a systems consultant, I was out for dinner with friends one night. Somebody remarked that what I did for a living wasn’t rocket science. Another gentleman at the table answered, “It’s harder than rocket science. God doesn’t change the laws of physics every three months.” It turned out that he was an MD, and the IT Director of a hospital. We bonded that night as we talked about the changing landscape of technology, and how difficult it was to keep pace with the changes.
Right now the world of marketing, especially digital marketing, is in a profound state of upheaval. The major platforms (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) are constantly changing the rules and algorithms by which they operate. The digital industry is still in a state of infancy. In many ways, we’re privileged to be at the forefront of its development. Of course, the social and political landscape is changing what people need and the messaging that affects them.
One of the most painful things we can do is to ascribe permanence to anything. As frustrating as change can be, even when it seems to go in our favor, we always have to be ready for things to change again. The moment you master the new Google algorithms for ad distribution, just know that they’re probably not done tweaking them.
Coping with Change
Many people claim that they are not good at handling change. The fact is that we handle change at every moment of every day. The entire world is in a constant state of flux. The important thing is to develop a coping strategy for change. For me, my strategy includes three parts: recognizing it, accepting it, and adapting to it.
The way I recognize change in the digital marketing sphere is to stay on top of developing news as much as possible. Of course, no one can read everything published on the subject everyday, but we can try to pay attention to what boils to the top. What’s making headlines in major online publications that cover the subject, such as Mashable, Ad Age or the ANA, help me stay current. The same applies to almost any professional field.
Another way to recognize change is what’s being marketed to me. There are new products and services coming online everyday that are designed to help me be a better marketer. No sooner have I learned how to do something the hard way than someone invents an easier way.
As soon as I detect change, I begin the process of accepting it. I don’t rail against it. I don’t resist it. I don’t ignore it. When asked, I’ll give my opinion, but I don’t focus on changing the change. It’s usually a waste of energy. The more productive response is to begin to adapt to it. If it changes back to the original in the meantime, so be it.
Adapting to It
In some cases, it may feel counterproductive to adapt to change. It might seem as though you’re taking two steps backward, or undoing everything you’ve learned. In fact, we’re always moving forward – in some way. Even when it appears that we’re undoing what we’ve learned we’re actually learning something new. We’re learning how to change.
A Microcosmic Example
A prime example for me is when my blogging platform changed its interface in the middle of my writing an article. Suddenly, I’d lost all the text. I had to recover it from a backup and re-do it using the new interface. I could have spent a lot of energy complaining to tech support or writing an online review of the new interface. But I realized that they weren’t going to roll the changes back based solely on my experience. Ultimately, I wound up learning the new interface and coming to appreciate it.
Adapting to change doesn’t necessarily mean tolerating it. We can participate in it. Some change demands to be addressed. Hopefully, we can redirect it in a way that feels more favorable. For instance, we can vote. We can protest. We can educate. For many of us, that would be a change.