I joined a Facebook group from my childhood town some months ago. One day, a post appeared showing photographs of the wrecking ball tearing down the junior high school I had attended. One of the comments said “So sad.” A reply to this comment said “Progress is good.” What I later found out is that a replacement facility is being planned which will incorporate modern-day building codes and a more post-baby-boom scale appropriate to the demographics of the area.
Part of me experienced nostalgia at that moment. I was reminded of wonderful times in junior high, some good friends I made there, and some great teachers I had. But the other part of me welcomed progress. Building codes have evolved. So has education. So has technology, obviously. So has business, marketing, and content distribution.
Last week I attended the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is one of publishing’s biggest events each year. I usually go to some pre-fair meetings, including one which is a committee where we discuss standards for serials. In this session last week, we talked about evolution within that realm. When this committee was conceived many years ago, print journals were the main form of “serials.” Today, most of the publishers in this group (scholarly and academic publishers) are focused on digital content and selling that content to consortia made up of multiple institutions. This is a huge shift from where we began.
Technology is evolving, and more rapidly each day, as we all know. Business is evolving. Communication is evolving. I was reminded just yesterday that we used to write office memos and business letters and file much of that paper in big metal cabinets. Now email is considered fairly formal.
We can look at the old way of doing things with nostalgia, but we had better, at the same time, evolve with the world around us if we wish to succeed in publishing, technology, membership development, marketing, parenting, or, well, just about anything.
One of the things that continues to evolve is marketing channels. It used to be that you could advertise, do a direct mail campaign, and, if you were really determined, a telemarketing campaign. Those were your choices. The number of channels now is so vast, we are forced to choose to ignore certain channels unless we want to be spread too thin. Some social media platforms are not appropriate for our organization. Others are and should be employed. But new channels are created with increasing frequency. Check out some of these which are a sampling of just outdoor ideas. With more and more information available via mobile devices and digital footprints, companies are coming up with incredibly innovative marketing channels. One company provides the users an experience on various displays as they travel through an airport or train station.
Among our clients, the channels or products available for their audiences to consume content continue to expand. In a world full of screens (I carry 2 in my backpack at all times, in addition to my smartphone) it is easy to distribute that content instantaneously. We see clients pushing their goods through multiple content aggregators, their own content management systems, digital editions, blog posts, and articles on multiple social media platforms in addition to print. It’s a fight for eyeballs, as they say, and our clients are experts at this.
As wearables become more popular, we will be more and more imbedded in technology and will be marketed to and consume content in ways we can’t even imagine today. It’s evolution, and it’s not going to stop. It’s a challenge to keep up with it, but with open minds, we can. Even if we look back with some nostalgia now and then.
And here’s my free advice of the day: never fall in love with a particular technology – your heart will be broken when evolution replaces it.