Like it or not, the only constant is change. Times change. The economy changes. Media options change. Markets change.
There are times when you can ignore change … times when you must change to stay in business … and times when change may not be necessary but hugely valuable. How do you know which is which? How do you decide what to change? Here are a few tips:
Evaluate Your Status. Start by being brutally honest with yourself: Is what you’re doing working? If so, great — keep doing it! If not, immediate change is imperative.
If things are working, your next question is: Will they work forever? Few things do. Don’t devote all your energy to building a better horse and buggy while Henry Ford is mass producing affordable automobiles.
Savvy businesspeople recognize that change is inevitable, and that continued success depends on constantly trying new things. The only real question is how much you need to change, and how fast.
Determine the Possibilities. Take a close look at what’s shifting in your business. Is your market aging? Has certain media stopped working? Can new media do a better or more economical job of targeting your prospects? Is your product line out of sync with the times?
Look at how your competition has adapted over time. Attend networking events and learn what’s working for other companies. Keep up with your trade reading. Learning what the options are and how they’re working for other companies is an important first step.
Decide What’s Right for You. Just because your competition is doing something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. Ask yourself three questions:
1. Will a new approach help me reach my goals? Many times, companies jump on a new bandwagon simply because everyone else is doing it. Try to determine if “everyone else” is actually getting results or just following the crowd.
2. Does the new approach play to our company’s strengths? Just like people, companies have strengths and weaknesses. If a new marketing method requires skills that people in your company already possess, you’re a step ahead of a game. Likewise, some product lines are especially suited for certain types of marketing. For instance, Pinterest lends itself perfectly to visual products, but is difficult for conceptual ones.
3. What’s the cost/benefit? Some new approaches are far easier to master than others. Some cost more than others to test. Some offer significantly more potential, some less. Only you can determine the cost vs. the benefit for your own particular case.
Formulate an Effective Plan. Once you’ve decided what new things you should try, determine the most prudent way to go about it.
Some things are easy to handle in house. Send employees to seminars and conferences to learn new skills if need be.
For areas that take you too far out of your comfort zone, look for alternatives. Hiring a vendor with the expertise you need can streamline the process considerably. Or perhaps a strategic partnership with a complementary business may be the best answer for you.
Whatever your business, change is inescapable. Ignoring it is a recipe for disaster. Embrace it and manage it wisely, and you’ll thrive.
The new year is almost here. What will you change in 2014?