“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

When any of us talk about the future, we’re really referring to change. We’re imagining a tomorrow that’s different from today, and when it comes to marketing, change is inevitable and it’s happening every day. Marketing reports are filled with statistics showing either past changes like the increase in smart speaker shipment, or expected changes, like the emergence of AI in consumer interactions. We’ve even shared our predictions for the future of digital marketing in 2024.

So how do you stay calm and ready for a future in an industry that continues to change at an accelerated rate? The most prepared you, and any organization, can be for the future is by adopting a healthy view towards change. In other words, a 20/20 perspective which will give you the clarity needed to navigate the future.

Let’s walk through some ways to help you develop 20/20 vision heading into the year 2020.

Be willing to lean into change

When online music file-sharing (R.I.P. Napster) peaked in the early 2000s, music companies fought against this new wave of technology and changing consumer behaviors. But they were fighting against the inevitable. Apple, on the other hand, took a different approach. They launched the iTunes Store in 2003 which allowed users to buy digital music from them. However, would people pay money for songs they could pirate off the internet for free? Let’s just say that within the first 18 hours, they sold approximately over 275,000 tracks. The iTunes Store became the largest seller of digital music in the US and has sold over 40 billion songs worldwide. Now, 16 years later, Apple is changing again. It’s shutting down iTunes and replacing it with Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts apps, allowing them to better focus on each type of media. Again, they’re moving with the times and leaning into change.

Hidden within this iTunes example, there are two forces of change you need to lean into:

Changes in the industry

This is vital for organizations to simply survive within their industries. Those who haven’t (Blockbuster, Borders, Kodak and Motorola, to name a few) no longer exist. Their legacies are now about how they became failures by not being able, or willing, to change with the times.

So, when an industry begins to change, it’s important not to fight it, or ignore it. Instead, it should be looked at with curiosity and be seen as an opportunity to change and grow.

Changes in consumer behavior

The customer should always be placed at the center of any business decision. However, as the consumer continues to increase their power, the result of not keeping up with their changing behaviors could be detrimental to an organization’s growth. As with the Apple iTunes case, when you lean in and give the users what they want (instead of prioritizing your organization’s existing infrastructure and fighting the demand) you will not only survive, but you may create new opportunities that are even bigger than you ever imagined.

As more and more consumers post their opinions on brands on social platforms and websites, they’re actually providing organizations with an abundance of valuable data and insight. Hear what they are saying and it should help your ability to see change as a rewarding experience.

Be open to disruptive game-changing technology

Before jumping into how to prepare for disruptive technology, let’s touch on the terminology.

When it comes to discussions about disruptive technology, very few marketers and other business professionals have an optimistic 20/20 perspective on it. After all, the word “disruptive” has negative connotations. Reminding you of unfavorable times like when your sleep was disrupted by your noisy neighbors when you had that important presentation in the morning. But over time, there have been many positive disruptive technologies – and that shouldn’t be seen as an oxymoron. From Gutenberg’s printing press to the first plane flight, these technological innovations changed the world for the better. So instead of “disruptive”, we like to think of these technologies as “game-changing technologies” because it implies the same meaning without the negative connotations.

So now that we’ve made the terminology neutral for a healthier perspective, let’s dive in properly.

Remain agile

Advanced machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality are all hot topic technologies in the MarTech World. Then you have smart billboards, Internet of Things, wearable technology, blockchain, and the list goes on and on. To stay aligned with this ever-changing digital marketing landscape and technological innovation, your department has to be agile.

You and your team need to think one step ahead. Think about the potential impact each game-changing technology could have on your organization and industry. Also, think creatively about how you could adopt and leverage the technology in your organization.

You can’t go after every new piece of technology. Nevertheless, just by thinking about its ongoing development and industry trends will keep you light on your feet. So when you need to take action – you can quickly jump on it. We find that Muhammad Ali’s “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” way of thinking is very fitting when looking game-changing technology in the eye. Being agile will allow you to “float like a butterfly” around the changing landscape. To “sting like a bee”, you have to be nimble and precise with your action, which we’ll look at next.

Adopt game-changing technology strategically.

As we just mentioned, you can’t take on every technological innovation that presents itself to you. These technologies could have an enormous impact on your business but do all of them align with your marketing goals and customer needs?

Thoroughly research the technologies that could be favorable to both your business and your customers and narrow it down from there. Remember to be customer-centric when making decisions, but don’t forget to consider the potential return on investment. Then get ready to experiment. Here at Major Tom, we research and test in order to point our clients in the right direction before scaling our efforts up. However, as you add new result-driving strategies into your marketing plan, it might be worth retiring lagging strategies. Never spread yourself too thin.

By being open to change and thinking proactively about the future, you can develop a healthy 20/20 perspective. This perspective provides the clarity needed to help you, and your organization, adapt to change. That adaptability, as Charles Darwin states, is the key to survival.

To aid you further, read about the three practical ways you can prepare for marketing’s future.