Are You Going Stale?

February 10, 2010

What scares you?  What keeps you up at night, and nags at the back of your consciousness?  There are few things that frighten me, one of them being that I have stopped learning and, like old bread, have gotten stale.

Can you imagine waking up one day to discover that your capacity to take in new knowledge has ended?  That everything you are going to learn has already happened and that your brain, now filled to capacity, was blinking “hard drive full”?  It can happen.  I have experienced it.

One thing that occurs when you are the custodian of a marketing budget is that everyone wants to meet with you.  If you allowed every new vendor to come in for a pitch, you could literally spend every day watching Power Point slides.  To better manage your time you set up protocols and processes–your staff and agencies screen new opportunities and vendors and only highlight those that they feel are right and likely to interest you.  This frees you up to focus on running your marketing programs, driving your business, and managing your time.

But all those protocols and layers are traps.  They isolate you from the marketplace and insulate you from innovation.  Your ability to compare and make decisions on new opportunities based on your firsthand knowledge/exposure diminishes… you are going stale.  So what can you do to stay current and in-touch with new options and changing landscapes without being capsized by solicitation?  Here are some fuel for thought suggestions:

  • Conference: Attend at least one conference a year that focuses on new marketing practices.  It is a great way to explore emerging trends and opportunities as well as network, share, talk and collaborate with peers and experts.  One conference series I highly recommend marketers to consider attending is the iMedia Summit — an excellent 3-day conference where they bring seasoned practitioners, marketers and vendors together.  Sigma’s annual Fuel For Thought conference is also packed with great content and attended by senior-level marketing executives from a variety of sectors/categories.  This year’s conference is planned to take place in October.
  • Follow & Document: Get into the habit of following trends and documenting what it will mean for your business in the near future. A well organized consolidation of trends can shape and provide clarity for new directions and opportunities. With the vastness of marketing related news sites, blogs, feeds, forums, groups, conversations on social networks, etc., there are numerous ways for you to create your own resource pool. I personally find Twitter to be extremely useful with their list building and aggregation. Here are a few Twitter lists I routinely scan throughout the day:
  • New Opportunity Day: Conduct a New Opportunity Day where you and your team meet only with companies you haven’t done business with–those that have been on your radar but you have pushed off due to lack of time, priority and/or perhaps even too many protocols.  To make this truly productive, make one of your marketing goals where success will be achieved through expanding into new approaches, channels and tools (e.g., social media, mobile, augmented reality, etc.).  Coordinate with your team and/or agency to issue an invitation to vendors/potential partners that clearly outlines your goal(s), timing and budget specifically tied to this initiative.  State clearly that this is not a general sales meeting, but rather you are inviting them to share suggestions that will help you further innovate your marketing by leveraging on their expertise and solutions.
  • Advertisements