Last updated: Marketing in an age of high-frequency change

Marketing in an age of high-frequency change


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As we head toward the close of 2022, it seems almost cliched to talk about the unpredictable nature of marketing, or the rapid pace of change.

After the pandemic, change, disruption, and unpredictability have become part and parcel of the business landscape. Today, the economy is unpredictable, the retail landscape is unpredictable, even consumer demands are increasingly unpredictable.

Change is the only constant. But what many of us fail to realize is that the nature of change itself… is changing.

Smaller, faster waves pack a punch

In his book, “High Frequency Change,” technologist and futurist Tom Cheesewright describes the different types of change that businesses (and societies) have faced over the last 100 years:

“Change is like a wave: it has both amplitude and frequency. The last century was about change of great amplitude, big waves washing over the whole of society. But this century is about high frequency change: rapid, smaller waves, each powerful enough to disrupt an industry.”

This concept is a great description of what we’re all witnessing in the marketing and retail space. We’re no longer talking about radical overhauls, but a constant barrage of daily disruption.

So many demands, so little time

In this new world, marketers are faced with unprecedented challenges. Their role is expanding, demands from the board are intensifying, and their budgets are shrinking.

At the same time, changes in consumer demands and behaviors are adding yet further complexity. Buyers want their favorite brands to engage anywhere and personalize everywhere – meeting them where they are, with relevant, timely content.

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As they try to keep up with all this constant change, marketers are struggling, with 57% saying that they don’t have enough time in the day to do a good job. Like waves eroding a cliff, high frequency change is wearing marketers down.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Change doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative state, it can be positive — as long as you’re in a position to take advantage of it.

Making adjustments on the fly

In this time of high-frequency change, agility is an essential skill for marketers — the ability to move quickly, be flexible, and switch direction when needed.

You have to be able to engage anywhere, at scale, if you’re going to deliver a unified customer experience. To achieve that level of agility however, you need data.

Data is what allows us to understand our audiences, preempt trends, and make the right decisions in real time.

It’s also what allows us to personalize and tailor our approaches, adapting to individual preferences alongside larger macro trends.

Many brands saw the benefit of this data-first approach during COVID. Businesses that had already embraced a data-led strategy were the best prepared to adjust their marketing to the rapid changes in consumer demand. With a data-first mindset and the right marketing technology, they were more agile and responsive to the industry-wide shift.

Regaining power

Looking ahead, it’s data and technology that will empower marketers in the face of increasingly fast change. Rather than playing catch up with our customers’ evolving needs, customer engagement tools can give power back to marketers.

These technologies allow us to understand new landscapes, plan for and react to the latest consumer trends, and automate the elements that were once outside our control.

Change may be the new constant in marketers’ lives, but disruption doesn’t need to be.

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