Learn to adapt to new ways of doing business

Change is inevitable; success comes from harnessing its power

Sacramento Business Journal – by Debi Hammond Contributing writer

Are you in the zone? People love the zone — the end zone, the “I’m totally focused” zone and their comfort zone.

Let’s take a closer look at that last zone. The comfort zone is extremely easy to fall into, but one of the most difficult to get out of.

The comfort zone keeps us doing what is comfortable and familiar. It also keeps us from changing and trying something new. It keeps us in the same place, avoiding the ever-frightening unknown.

Well, in today’s business and marketing landscape, a lot is changing, which means there are a lot of unknowns. We need to step outside of our comfort zone and start to embrace change.

Keeping up with change

So, what’s really changing and why should we care? Here’s a list of five significant changes and tips on how you can capitalize on them.

  1. Economy. We are experiencing the worst economy since the Great Depression. So, we need to look at new ways to approach the market. We need to do more with less, which means we need to step outside of our comfort zone and embrace new ideas, new technologies and new ways of communicating.
  2. Technology. Technology is moving at light speed. With telephones becoming personal computers that can fit in the palm of your hand and laptop computers becoming movie screens, it’s time we take a look at what technologies we’re using to reach our customers. Are you using the technologies your customers are using?
  3. Culture. We have become a culture of drama, visual images and sound bites. According to Allen Adamson, author of “BrandSimple,” when it comes to information, “We get it fast. We listen fast. We process fast.” Therefore, we need to look at our marketing and see if our message can be taken in, fast. Whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or an ad campaign, keep it clear, concise and compelling.
  4. Audience. Who is your audience? And how long will that audience be relevant to your business? You need to understand who your audience is (or will be) and more importantly, exactly how to reach them. According to a national study by Grunwald Associates LLC, 96 percent of kids ages 9 to 17 who have access to the Internet report having used some form of social networking technology. If you want to reach this next generation of customers, you need to be where they are.
  5. Social media. Probably the most significant change in the marketing and business landscape is social media. Social media is truly changing the way we communicate. It can no longer be an addition to your marketing program; it must be an integral part of it.

So, who really uses social media? For starters, the president of the United States of America and the governor of California. Marketing professionals, CEOs, editors, writers and reporters all use social media. The question should be, who doesn’t use social media? If you’re not, what are you waiting for? The conversation is happening about your business whether you like it or not. Shouldn’t you be a part of it?

Yes, a lot is changing. But with change lies opportunity.

I’d like to leave you with a quote by Alan Cohen, author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”: “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

Success lies in getting out of your comfort zone and adapting to change.

Debi Hammond is president and chief executive officer of Merlot Marketing Inc., a Sacramento-based branding, advertising and public relations agency that helps companies build their brands and businesses both locally and nationally. Contact her at debi@merlotmarketing.com or visit merlotmarketing.com.

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