Every time I turn around there is something new and better on the horizon in digital marketing - new hardware, new software, new tools, new channels, new targeting opportunities, new tracking capabilities, new providers, new pricing models, new ad units, new everything. If consumers are overwhelmed by choice in this fast moving marketplace then marketers are doubly so.
Consumers adopt along a well-documented bell curve, while smart marketers watch and follow that consumer curve. In our current environment, there are many overlapping curves to watch, and placing your bets on which ones have staying power or will achieve the uniqueness or scale that makes them attractive to marketers is extraordinarily difficult - and risky.
The risk to marketers in all this change takes many forms. Jump too fast to trial a new offering, channel, or approach and you may get ahead of the consumer adoption and have inconsequential or too highly segmented, early adopter-only participation. Wait too long, however, and you might lose the opportunity to stand out or capture incremental value. Of course, all things in marketing being relative, your risk and potential reward depend on your business goals, competitive environment, and target audience demographics. Groundbreaking ideas, whether in a category, in the industry, or even just within your own organization may bring some advantages but it also introduces uncertainties.
How to manage marketing risks:
The internal, operations side of the business is a whole different set of risks. New tools and other first-time efforts exact a hefty toll in training and trialing, whether for an agency or for a corporate marketing department. Processes all down the line may be impacted by a seemingly minor change. Multiply that across all the tools and relationships that have the potential for regular change and you may induce staff fatigue around a constant state of transition.
If you swap out key partners, processes, or tools too often within your organization you risk never really maximizing your expertise in an area. It simply takes time to learn to excel at our complex tasks. On the other hand, if you don't keep current with the latest tools, knowledge, tactics, and opportunities on behalf of your clients or brands you will be obsolete quickly. So how do you make the right changes, offering enough stasis and stability to your practice to support excellence while staying on top of your game?
In the end, "better" is often a very subjective term that needs to be weighed against your organization's mission and business goals, and carefully balanced with your ability to execute. In this age of newer and better we can easily get caught in a hamster wheel of perpetual change. It is a rare and valuable skill to be able to separate the new and better from the just new.
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Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.
Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT