Applying digital technology to traditional business is a difficult path for many business owners and managers. Particularly when the way they’ve always done business has been very successful, providing a comfortable, secure life over many years. But the head-in-the-sand approach and vocal rejection that I see every week are the last plaintiff cries of a breed pushing itself toward extinction.
The digitalisation of human interaction has not only changed the way marketing works, it has changed the role of marketing within the business and way that business works. Even the precepts of marketing – products, promotions, pricing and positioning are all fundamentally changed in definition and characteristics. These changes are directly due to the digital revolution and have come about abruptly. Unfortunately a great many businesses remain unaware of the changes that have occurred and are continuing to occur every day.
There are various reasons why many businesses remain unaware of the significance and relevance of digital era changes. One mentioned above is that their traditional mode of operation has performed very well in the past – why fix what ain’t broke? Another is that the businesses that are based around physical products or services and have had no direct contact with digital business, fail to recognise the extent to which the rest of the world has changed through digitalisation. Another is that the casual experience with social media or digital business has been shallow, frivolous and perceived as a waste of time. Many business people simply fail to recognise the depth, breadth and quality of real change and potential for change that technology can provide right now.
Great change, imposed rapidly and in many cases insidiously, is difficult to grasp. The rate of change and the many dead-ends that will inevitably occur is good enough reason for business to be wary or uncertain about how it should approach digital technology. But just asking the question “What should we do now?” is a very good place to start.
My answer is to start learning something about what is going on. Make sense of what has happened so far and develop ideas on where change might be moving in the future. Then with the change framework in place determine how it applies to your business and where opportunities exist to use technology to support and strengthen existing business and/or open doors to new business that suddenly become possible because digital technology provides you with new ways to create and deliver products, new ways to reach new markets, new ways to price products and services and vastly more new ways to promote.
As a starting point I recommend every business leader, owner, development manager read this great publication by Scott Brinker – A New Brand of Marketing: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline.
It’s a thorough, astute insight into how marketing is taking over the business and how technology is taking over marketing. It’s completely free and if you only take away one point for each chapter you will be far better informed than most on this complex and important subject. Check out what else Scott has to say at http://chiefmartec.com
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