“Some things will never change.”
The talented Tupac Shakur couldn’t have said it any better in the last line of the 1992 track Changes. If you’re a fan, you know that the song is about much more than brand marketing; but there’s plenty for marketing companies and agencies to learn from here.
While many organizations shrug their shoulders, claim “That’s just the way it is,” and move through operation after operation in total comfort with the status quo, but without any real disruptive growth to show for it – the Pacs out there — that is, the growth-oriented entrepreneurs and marketing companies — struggle daily, handily, with the realization that not everyone is comfortable with taking their business to the next level.
Why resist change? It truly seems to be all about comfort, doesn’t it? Since the dawn of civilization, sages of all walks of life, from psychologists to clergy, have attempted to find an answer. While there appear to be several reasons that human beings resist change and growth, Thought Patrol narrows it down to 12 main reasons, which include fear of the unknown, poor communication, lack of trust, personal rewards and benefits, and changes in routine, among others.
Whatever the reason, internal or external, a recent Inc.com article written by editor John Brandon puts it perfectly: rote processes are simply an excuse, “making people happy” means never challenging anyone, and a fearful leader — especially when he or she is the head of marketing, a startup entrepreneur, or an executive — tends to miss the great ideas that their teams and consultants are creating and innovating around them.
Are you one of the many marketing leaders, inbound strategists, or content consultants that runs into these types of clients on a regular basis? While we know better than anyone that we can’t change anybody, or any brand, we do know there are a few ways to look at this problem from a perspective that protects you and your marketing company:
1. “We can never go nowhere, unless we share with each other.” – Communication is key. Where there is growth, there is conflict, and if any one single member of your team or client partner has a problem communicating needs – there is bound to be a halt in growth, innovation, and change. Protect yourself. From the get-go, assert to all stakeholders that you are fully available to communicate with them and provide them with any resources they may need. Document communication issues in emails, and address any communication issues as soon as they arise.
“Copy” whoever needs to be copied in those messages. Don’t wait for issues to get worse down the road, or impact your strategy. If you have trouble reaching the right stakeholder, take notes so you can address any challenges at the next marketing meeting.
2. “It takes skill to be real.” – Everyone needs to be in the game for growth to really happen. If your social marketer has new ideas, and you’d like to implement them – but there’s a conflict of interest going on in the SEO or admin department – again, addressing these issues immediately through communication is the only way to keep stimulating growth.
If you continue to find issues with your clients or partners being “real,” a conversation is definitely in order to see if the partnership is a right fit – and if they’re really interested in what you have to provide in the first place, or merely the idea of it (which wastes your time and efforts).
3. “You see the old way wasn’t working.” – You wouldn’t have been hired on if the “old way” of marketing at said client or company was working like a well-oiled machine. Use this as a basis for your inquiry on challenges. What happened before you or your team came on? What was the issue at hand – and why did they think you could be the one to address it? If you are experiencing resistance to change, remind the stakeholder that the old way wasn’t working, and ask them my favorite question of all, “How is this different than the way you were doing it before?” Invite your client to engage in the growth thought process — you may teach them something — or perhaps it’s a learning experience for you and future clients down the road.
Keep in mind that it’s possible that still, you will see no changes. You will wake up in the morning and read the emails from your growth-shy clients and ask yourself, Why? Why?
The best you can do, marketing pro, is handle the issue up front, address any conflict, get everything in writing, and be proud of your attempt to assist this company in new growth and change. If they can’t accept change, growth, and innovation – you’ll know you tried your best to give them the tools. That’s all you can ask for in the marketing game – and vet your clients better the next time!
Cheers, Marketing Homies.
-Jess & The Social Campfire Team