Take the Initiative
photo by Ivan Aleksic
We are living in a time when band-aids are no longer enough.
These days, change is truly the only constant. While much of it feels accelerated and jarring or frustrating, a fair percentage of the change happening around us is long overdue and very necessary.
I’d promised a few weeks ago to share general digital and marketing tips to help those of you who are working on launching or evolving projects, since I’ve been approached by many for advice in this space after we first found ourselves in these current times of flux. In response to those and the types of questions and inquiries that I get all of the time, all of this week I’m finally sharing some of those tips as my time had been scarce in the past few weeks as I’m still leading teams on a daily basis.
Since we have to start somewhere, today’s focus is on taking initiative--to serve as a “precursor” before getting into the real tips as we dive into out-of-the box ideas and strategy on Tuesday.
During these times of change it becomes important to not just ride out the change but to also not be afraid to lead the change. This requires a shift in perspective where instead of reacting to circumstances or waiting for someone else to create something that you can join in on, you actually stop waiting for opportunities or the right circumstances to take action and create your own.
Wouldn’t you rather be the one providing the opportunities to others rather than waiting for opportunities to be presented to you?
Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to launching certain projects whether for film, music, or television, timing can be crucial especially during times like these when you don’t want to come across as insensitive or tone-deaf. We’ll get into more of those cases over the next few days. However, outside of those instances and even in spite of those circumstances for the most part you are best-served setting fear or hesitation aside to instead pioneer and to implement creativity in your strategy. While you are waiting for the timing to be right you can begin to test the waters to identify the audience and positioning to set yourself up for success once the timing is right.
I could give you many, many examples both from my own career and personal endeavors where I have either led or been a part of a team leading change and when I think back to some of those projects it’s hard to imagine a time when some of those things that we created or launched didn’t exist--everything from at the gas pump entertainment to integrated marketing departments, tv show “after shows”, short-form/companion content, social lounges, video-on-demand, and of course live streaming and streaming services/platforms. This is just a glimpse of many of the things that are a part of our daily lives that never would’ve existed if one person or a group of people had not had an idea that they set into motion—whether it was myself or others.
Of course early versions of some of these things existed, however it wasn’t in a scalable way that would offer a return. Of course not all of it was successful right off the bat, optimization was key but there was no way we could have gotten to the success stories without first launching and testing. I’m willing to bet that just about every single person in the U.S. at one point or another has experienced at least one if not most of those products/content creations and to this day continues to on a regular basis as many are a part of our daily lives.
For many budgets or resources are the excuse. However, I can assure you that for some of those things we didn’t have many resources nor financial backing initially, just some invested brainpower from our parts and the ability to foresee a need or opportunity. You’d be surprised at how small the teams were that did the bulk of the work.
Change can be scary. Failure can be embarrassing.
What most people don’t realize is that little-by-little we’ve all been gradually put through changes on an almost daily basis in a myriad of ways. We’ll focus more on audiences and user experience (UX) later in the week, but in the digital space alone you’ve likely been part of A/B tests without even knowing it. From subtle changes like your Gmail constantly testing new fonts/views/features to app updates as bugs are fixed with each release.
On Facebook think about the new “care” reaction emoticon that people are now using like it’s been there this whole time, but has really only been there a few weeks. It is on social media especially, without realizing it you’ve no doubt been part of target audiences for new tv shows/films where different creative is served to different demographics and that with the higher engagement gets rolled out on a broader scale across billboards, video ads, and larger media buys. Let’s not get started on product and apparel ads as they become what we call responsive advertising and transform into tailor made creative for you based on your preferences and activity.
You’re actually more used to change than you realize.
When it comes to failure, eventually you’ll succeed and people will forget where you failed, if they even noticed at all. Industry insiders may like a good bandwagon, but audiences move on quickly.
By now, I hope most people are realizing that the world will not go back to “normal” or whatever “normal” meant to each of us. Especially not the entertainment industry. Live streaming, Zooming, simulcasting, digital releases, social activations, creative distribution deals-- those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and should be integrated proactively into any launch. More on that tomorrow. In the meantime just know that at this crossroads moment of the old and the new, conversations that will influence where we go from here are in-progress and if you step up now you can actually help define what the new “normal” will look like for years to come.