ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 9

"Please don't hire anyone else." This
was the plea of a colleague many
years ago when I traveled north from
California to Oregon to a production company known as Tyee. Tasked
with building a media planning and
buying arm, my job was to transform the business into a full-fledged
advertising agency. As someone whose
ambition was intent on growth, I was,
needless to say, taken aback by this
comment. The person making the
appeal wanted things to be the way
they used to be, when the organization,
led by a handful of partners, was small
and family-like. This individual was
opposed to the one thing that we all
know is constant: change.

our colleague, they "just didn't get it."
Out of frustration, he left and started
his own agency to take advantage
of his knowledge. Today, that trailblazer-Andy Latimer-has built one
of the most innovative, successful, and
award-winning direct marketing enterprises in the country: Bluewater Media.
Look, I understand resistance to
change. We've all indulged in it at one
time or another. When I was starting
out in my working life, I wanted to
find a good career that would provide
stability, clarity in its expectations, and
a surety of rewards and benefits that
generations past had come to expect.
But there is no more cradle-to-grave
employment, pensions are a relic of

Things are in a state of flux, and they
will continue to be for as long as we're
hawking brands and products.
That comment was made over 20
years ago, yet it still haunts me. Why
is it that some people embrace change,
while others resist it? I suspect there are
a number of reasons. Change represents
a threat to the status quo; it is disruptive
and can be confusing. It can make one
feel as though they have lost control. It
invites skepticism. It involves risk.
Change alters the narrative that one
may have been telling for some time,
upending identities. Let me illustrate
by example: A colleague once worked
at a local PBS affiliate during its annual
fundraising drive. He suggested embracing a few direct marketing tactics that
had been effective in the for-profit world
to promote what was a nonprofit, public
broadcasting affiliate. Management
resisted, I suspect, because the idea of
thinking like a capitalist was off-brand
for the organization, its pervasive
"altruistic" culture, and their own egos.
In other words, thinking like a rational
businessperson seemed too unsavory to
embrace. But from the perspective of

history if you operate in the private
sector, and if ever there was an industry
marked by upheaval in recent times,
it would be advertising and marketing. "Set it and forget it" might work
if you're broiling a chicken, but it is
a credo that's ill-suited for a business
roiling in the sea change of fragmented
audiences, evolving media consumption
patterns, and social media disruptions.
Why do we resist change like an
insolent inner child gripped by fear,
especially when we so often embrace its
inevitability later on, wondering: Why
did that resolution take so long?
That's the thing about change: It
waits for no man or woman. So when
it is staring you in the face, it may be
appropriate to ask yourself: When are
you going to accept it? Today, tomorrow, six months from now? Perhaps in
a year or two-or maybe never?
I'll put it another way: How much
self-inflicted pain are you willing to
endure before you capitulate or wear
yourself out in the process of resistance?

Change is all around-and it's coming
to best practices, agencies that are siloed
in their core competencies, consumer
shopping habits, and, yes, trade associations seeking to reboot their identities,
to name but a few examples. Change is
ubiquitous; it is everywhere.
Let's get real. The elephant in the
room sitting on those who resist change
is this: the fear of failure. What if it
doesn't work out? If you think you are
going to avoid some measure of failure
in a universe transitioning at the rate
of today's marketing landscape, you're
kidding yourself. There are platforms,
tactics, and best practices that will
emerge later this year that we don't even
know about today. Things are in a state
of flux, and they will continue to be for
as long as we're hawking brands and
products. Therefore, it might be wise to
embrace what leadership expert John
C. Maxwell has advised: "Fail early; fail
often; but always fail forward." Failure
is like sandpaper-rough to the touch
at first. Yet it is that abrasive nature that
can, over time, create a smooth finish.
As direct marketing's own Tony
Robbins once suggested, perhaps it is
time to embrace this mantra: "I am no
longer willing to drive into the future
using my rearview mirror as my tool of
We all know what happens when
we take our eyes off the road ahead.
Therefore, you must ask yourself: Are
you on the change "bus," or driving it?
Or are you stranded on the shoulder
of a desert highway, wounded, weakened, and searching for a mirage of "the
way things used to be"? Will you be
running after that bus long after it has
disappeared from view? Because make
no mistake: Whether it's voluntary or
involuntary, there will be roadkill-and
it's up to you to decide whether you
leave your ambition for dead.
Rick Petry is a freelance writer who specializes in direct marketing and is a past
chairman of ERA. He can be reached at
(503) 740-9065, online at rickpetry.
com, and on Twitter @thepetrydish. | electronicRetailer


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ER Magazine - July/August 2017

Bottom Line
Out & About
Retail Movers
Dish With Rick Petry
Fair Trade
Making The Brand
Agency Insights
Law & Orders
25 Years of Tristar
Direct to Digital
Smart Buy
Advertisers’ Index
DR 101
Parting Shot
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Cover1
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Cover2
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Happenings
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Bottom Line
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Out & About
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Dispatches
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 5
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Retail Movers
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 7
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Dish With Rick Petry
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 9
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Fair Trade
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Making The Brand
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Agency Insights
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 13
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Law & Orders
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 15
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 25 Years of Tristar
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 17
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 18
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 19
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Direct to Digital
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 21
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 22
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 23
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Smart Buy
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Advertisers’ Index
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - DR 101
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - 27
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Parting Shot
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Cover3
ER Magazine - July/August 2017 - Cover4