Change is something we all seek to better understand. In the marketplace, thousands of minute innovations occur daily. While most are clever attempts to capture attention, a handful of these changes are worth embracing as they impact the way we conduct our daily affairs.
Change can be broken down into two broad categories: cyclical and structural.
J.P. Morgan was once asked what would happen in the stock market the following day. He quipped, “It will fluctuate.” Mr. Morgan was here referring to cyclical change.
Business cycles move from recession to recovery. Cyclical change is all around us in the marketplace. The markets move from trough to peak responding to human nature and supply and demand. These cyclical changes create temporary alterations. For example, the price of gasoline drops from $4.50 per gallon to $3.25 per gallon. The prime interest rate drops a quarter of a point. A country moves from a democratic to socialistic government.
These changes move in cycles and occur regularly in the marketplace.
On the other hand, structural changes are a completely different issue.
When a structural change occurs it changes the way we deal with the future forever. It is a dramatic change in the marketplace that will result in numerous other structural changes. A structural change communicates very loud and clear that our understanding of what is possible has been dramatically altered. These changes are easy to recognize with the benefit of hindsight. They require a calm analytical skill to appreciate while they are occurring.
An appreciation of technology can also be helpful.
Take, for example, the music recording industry. The technology of the music industry began with:
78 speed records.
These 78 speed records were replaced by 45 speed records.
The 45 speed records were replaced by 33 1/3 speed-long playing albums.
The 33 1/3 speed-long playing albums were replaced by the tape cassette and 8 track cartridge.
The tape cassette and 8 track cartridge were replaced by the CD Rom.
The CD Rom then was replaced by the mp3 audio download file!
Who knows what will replace the mp3 audio download file, but I can assure you that entrepreneurs are addressing that issue as I write these words.
The key thing about structural changes is that they never revert backwards. MP3 audio download files will never be seriously challenged by 78 speed records.
Once you see a structural change, you simply can’t put the genie back in the bottle again.
What does all this have to do with marketing online?
In a nutshell…..EVERYTHING!
As I write these words, the American financial markets have been in true crisis mode for the last 18 months. Trillions of dollars in equity and debt have been lost. Foreclosures and defaults are at record levels. We are undeniably in the contraction side of a nasty economic predicament. Hardship and limitation are everywhere you look.
What I do know is that from these ashes, birth will be given to the massive structural changes that will move the world and business towards greater possibilities. These changes will be unleashed through technological innovation.
The automobile was a structural change which replaced the horse drawn carriage.
The telegram was a structural change which challenged the Pony Express method of communication.
The fax machine was a structural change which challenged traditional mail delivery.
Email communication was a structural change which challenged all other forms of communication.
Stem cell research is a structural change which challenges our understanding of ethics, life and creation.
Likewise, the Internet is a structural change which forces us all to recognize what is possible, while it also dramatically changes the economic order.
The key thing about structural change is that when it occurs, the mind which perceives it cannot return to its original valued notions about reality. When the Atom Bomb was detonated in the 1940’s it forever changed the reality of war itself. When cellular phone usage became possible the idea of being tied down to an office forever changed. When email communication became a reality the opportunity to create a wider sphere of influence became a true actuality.
There is a great story referenced to Henry Ford that illustrates the problem with experts. Ford distrusted outside experts. He stated that, “The moment one gets into the expert state of mind, a great number of things become impossible.” Ford believed that experts were too familiar with all of the reasons why something couldn’t be done.
When his company needed a metallurgy expert, he pointed at a worker who was methodically sweeping the floors and instructed to his managers to make him the company metallurgist.
How is that for a job interview?!
However far fetched it may appear, stories similar to this have occurred regularly at all entrepreneurial companies. The dynamic of fast change creates growth that most experts would claim is not possible. That growth opens the door to exploring experimentation and possibilities. Consider companies like Amazon.com, AOL, Wal-Mart, Google, etc. The fast pace of growth at these organizations has created entire departments that have never before existed in any other company. The Disney Corporation referred to this as “Imagineering.”
I marvel at the reality that the telephone had been around for one hundred years and that the personal computer had been in existence for fifteen years before some trailblazer wondered what might occur if they would marry the telephone and computer together. Consider all of the new possibilities that were created due to this innovation. Entire new niche industries have evolved in areas like firewalls, online payment processing, satellite communication, voice-over internet telephone messaging, text messaging…the list goes on and on.
Huge structural changes are occurring in online marketing today.
Massive innovations are taking place in the communication, targeting and tracking of campaigns. Be prepared to embrace the change, or be left behind like the buggy whip manufacturers of yesteryear!