The expression 'evolve or die' always felt a little over-the-top to me, but now I say it with conviction. If your business isn't paying attention to the changes online, it will be left behind.
One of the biggest changes in marketing and media is turnaround times. This is evident with the immediate nature of social media, where things are happening real-time. So if your business wants to play 'real time,' keep in mind that idea-to-execution has to happen quickly. There's no time for lengthy meetings, drawn-out proposals or over-planning. The emphasis is placed on taking action. This doesn't mean quality is at stake: when you have laser focus when it comes to your business strategy, and know where you are going, the steps to get to where you need to be become quite obvious.
Companies also need to become more lean and agile. For example, if something happens on social media, and you want to react or give your opinion, you need to be present then and there, not a week from then. If you want to do a video segment related to something timely, it needs to be pushed out while it's still on people's minds. Being overly attached to plans will become a detriment - and it's the hardest thing for larger organizations to deal with. As a small- or medium-sized business, this is where your advantage sits. While large corporations will spend months planning something, you can be already doing it.
Another requirement is the willingness to take risks. There are many innovative businesses and brands out there hustling like they never have before, while their (soon-to-be extinct) competitors are still sitting in their board rooms deciding and meticulously planning what to do. Need to enhance your website? Get it done. Thinking about trying social media? Don't wait. Wondering about how video can work? Do it. It can be scary trying something that maybe has never been done before, whether in your city or your industry, but it gives you the opportunity to pave the way for how things should be done. Plus, if you decide whatever it is doesn't perfectly fit with your business - you are agile enough to change course and try again. It's better to try something new while you're ahead of the curve rather than waiting for the opportunity to pass you by. It's been said many times over: taking risks has its rewards.
For those who are scared of what's happening, maybe in denial or perhaps even thinking it's all temporary, you need to give your head a serious shake and start swimming, hard. It's better to get ahead now, start living in this digital world and trying a few new things because by the time you are finally ready to execute, there's a good chance the wave will have passed you by.
Special to The Globe and Mail