A little background. I like change. I like that change lends itself to opportunity. I like that change throws the status quo off and turns trendsetters and innovators on. I like that change appreciates being leveraged. I like that most people do not like change.
So why do so many not like change? For many, the prospect of an unknown outcome (positive or negative) is overwhelming or even frightening. These are the Planners, the forecasters, the ‘ducks in a row’ crew. They thrive on predictability with spontaneity and risk never finding its way off the bottom of their shoe. For others, change represents breaking habits. Habits are habitual – yep, newsflash, they are. They are hard to break, uncomfortable to go outside of and represent potential inefficiencies and added costs. These are what I like to call the Controllers. They have a course of action that works -for them- and provides them a certain amount of control. Change screws royally with that mindset. Finally, we have the Dependents. This is the segment of people that do not rely on their own process, plan or knowledge, but on that of others. They are diligent hunters and gatherers. They find what they need from any available already created wheel, assemble it, and then relax … until change enters and threatens the very foundation their pretty little tower of ‘get-er-done’ is built on and it comes crumbling down. It’s like a giant Jenga game, one change could just make the assembly lean, while a different change could topple the whole thing. This instability is threatening to your sanity and therefore, protecting the stability of your leaning tower of satisfactory third party solutions becomes the focus over ensuring it’s ability to accommodate rogue environments.
So, where do you fit? It’s good to figure that out. It’s not necessarily bad to be any number of or combination of one of these ‘types’, but everyone needs a friend that likes change, and, preferably, a smart friend. Why? Because liking change amounts to a silver lining of sorts. It’s a way to run the field while the Planners, Controllers and Dependents have their head in the cloud, spreadsheets or sand waiting for the change to be defined, explained or detailed. They are the followers looking for the leaders.
Then there are the people who find opportunity in change. A cause for celebration. Many of these crazy people are strategic marketers. Yes, we like to have our plans and analysis, but we love the opportunity to have change as leverage or, at least, the prospect of uncertainty. It is the ultimate diving board for thought leadership, market coalitions and audience reception. It’s the fastest route to connect simple awareness to absolute trust. It’s usually when the big conglomerates and corporations limp (maybe crawl) because of operational inefficiencies and slow information disbursement, while the independent knowledge keepers have a narrow window to step to center stage and shine without much competition. That’s when you have to look change in the eye without fear and take the lead. Waiting to follow only puts you in the back of the line. People are fascinated by the change makers, but they seek out the change leaders. Change leaders lead with information, knowledge and willingness to share.
So, with the wrapping of an election year and possible new policies, regulations and CHANGE ahead, how can you make that change WORK for you? Here are six great tips, from one crazy marketer to the rest of you that may help you see change as an advantage:
1 – START WITH KNOWLEDGE – Educate yourself. Get ahead of the crowd with your knowledge. ICYMI Google is an excellent jump off point for self-driven research. It isn’t about where the definite change will exist as much as it is about where the confusion may be seated for your customer. Put yourself in their shoes. Where have they invested the most time or money gaining knowledge, staffing or tooling that will be potentially affected? How can you provide advice, tips or knowledge on navigating that? Ask the questions they will ask. Seek the knowledge they might seek before they seek it. Then share your knowledge and share often. Keep the bits of knowledge simple, short, consistent and constant and let them get to know you through your willingness to share.
2 – CREATE A CIRCLE OF EXPERTS – Establish your own knowledge base. Identify your resources and develop those relationships. Be a voice for expanding the reach of those resources. Not one to want to share in your own voice? That’s okay! Not everyone is a writer. Share summaries, give short opinions, live stream a quick video or simply share the knowledge you have and open it up to an expert Q&A. Some of the worst part of sharing an or engaging with an expert opinion, is the expert. The advice is often dry, dull and convoluted. The knowledge of the technical can lose the audience that is looking for the simple. So don’t wrap yourself in the technical. Keep it real and keep it simple.
3 – SHARE CREATIVELY – Typically, your audience isn’t hanging out where you think they should. They have their own little happy places to get their information and you need to come up with fun, creative ways to have them want to come share yours. People enjoy gaining knowledge, so find ways to talk with or offer to work on solutions together rather than just talking at your audience.
4 – SCRATCH THE LENGTHY POLISH – There is a difference in professionalism and perfection. Perfection can be a time-sensitive opportunity’s arch nemesis. The knowledge-seekers will find an information provider when they are looking for it. We live in a time of 30-second knowledge. Give anyone 30 seconds and Google and they WILL find something relevant to the knowledge they seek. Question is, will they find you? The need for information to resolve conflict or confusion is an extremely relentless, powerful force. When consumers are in a place of need or confusion, the focus is on finding the information. Whether that information is delivered in a flashy sports car or just a nice clean sedan matters much less than accessibility and reliability of the information being delivered. Sure polish matters, but perfection meddles. In the world of 30-second knowledge, perfection can draw you in and drown you out fast. Sometimes, you simply need to do a quick spit shine and go. Don’t get so caught up in perfection that the market has moved on before you arrive.
5 – SPIN THE SPIN – Headlines have a tendency to freak people out. In fact, there are an ENORMOUS number of people that never read past the headlines (explains a lot, I know). However, headlines aren’t going away. The mislead, draw gasps and excite in less than 2-seconds and you know your audience is reading it, wondering, questioning how that headline may impact them. Pay attention. Follow main stream sources of information. Know what doubts or frenzy those sources are feeding your audience through headlines and then spin the spin. Leap from the headline to an opinion piece or education piece. It will instantly give you more relevance in search. Stay centered and out of public condemnation, religious or politically leaning views and instead just focus on simple truths, educational bits and expert opinions. In a time of distrust of mainstream media, your voice of knowledge, keeping things real and simple will be much appreciated.
6 – GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE – I hate to break it to you, but without diligent, intentional marketing efforts, your website is likely not breaking any traffic records. People find Google or LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook probably before they find you. Sure your blog is your comfort zone. It’s easy, quick and once posted it’s ‘out there’ for the world to consume, right? Maybe, but it’s like telling the person needing a new pair of sneakers to look at the grocery store for them before their favorite shoe store. Not likely, right? Take the time to ask your customers where they like finding their information. Don’t be surprised if it isn’t you! Listen. Find the consistencies in their knowledge seeking resources and leverage that to your advantage and build on that (ie #2). Go where your potential customers are; don’t wait for them to come to/find you!