Embracing Change as a Catalyst for Success, with PJ Perez, Director of Marketing @ Chapman University

April 10, 2024

Our guest on How the F**k Did You Get That Job this week **was PJ Perez, Director of Marketing at Chapman University. PJ touched on a lot of topics that hit close to home for marketers, but none hit harder than when he highlighted, "everything has been changing rapidly, especially in the last five or so years." Yep, the times they are a-changin', and if you want to keep up, you better be ready to pivot faster than a politician's stance on a controversial issue.

Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all marketing plan. Today, it's all about being agile and ready to roll with the punches. As Perez puts it, "We have to be super nimble. We have to stay on top of everything, and it's tough." But fear not, intrepid marketer. In this article, we'll explore the key trends reshaping the marketing landscape and give you a roadmap for not just surviving but thriving in the face of constant change. So buckle up, buttercup. It's time to embrace the chaos.

Before we dive in, check out the full episode here:

The Rise of User-Generated Content and Personal Branding

Remember when creating content was a job for the professionals? Well, those days are gone, my friend. Now, thanks to social media and smartphones, every woman, her mother and grandmother are content creators. It's like the world's biggest open mic night, and everybody's put their name on the list. As Perez says, "With everybody being a content generator and everybody being kind of their own brand, or at least trying to be, you're competing for attention so much more than before."

For marketers, this means the game has changed. You can't just rely on your carefully crafted messaging anymore. Nope, you gotta tap into the real, authentic conversations happening around your brand. It's like being the cool kid at the party – you gotta know what people are talking about and find a way to join in.

One way to do this is by buddying up with influencers and micro-influencers. These are the folks with loyal followings in their niche – the trendsetters, the tastemakers. By partnering with them, you can reach new audiences in a way that feels organic and authentic. Plus, according to a survey by Mediakix, 89% of marketers say the ROI from influencer marketing is as good as or better than other channels. Not too shabby.

But be warned: with so much content being created every day, it's harder than ever to cut through the noise. To succeed, you gotta create content that's not just good, but great. We're talking valuable, engaging, share-worthy stuff.

Navigating the Shifting Landscape of Marketing Platforms

Just when you think you've got a handle on the latest marketing platforms, they go and change everything up on you. Take Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, for example. This little gem threw a wrench in the works for marketers trying to deliver targeted ads and measure their effectiveness. According to AppsFlyer, companies relying on in-app advertising saw a median 15% drop in revenue. Ouch.

But it's not just about privacy. The rise of short-form video content, led by platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, has completely changed the game when it comes to how people consume content. For marketers, this means rethinking their whole strategy and getting creative with how they showcase their brand. Just look at Chipotle— they hit the jackpot with their "Lid Flip Challenge" on TikTok, generating over 110,000 video submissions and 104 million video starts. That's a lot of flipping lids.

Let's not forget about social commerce. TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are making it easier than ever for users to shop directly from their apps. For marketers, this is a golden opportunity to reach consumers where they already are and drive sales. Just ask Revolve—they've built a fashion empire on the back of their social media presence and influencer partnerships, with 70% of their sales coming from their own channels.

The key to navigating this ever-shifting landscape? Being willing to adapt on the fly. This might mean taking a chance on new platforms, getting creative with your content, or becoming besties with the latest privacy regulations. It's not always easy, but as Perez says, "By staying agile and responsive to the latest trends and technologies, marketers can position themselves to seize new opportunities as they arise." Preach.

Challenging the Status Quo: Questioning Established Processes

Here's the thing: just because something's been done a certain way since the dawn of time doesn't mean it's the best way. In fact, if you want to stay ahead in marketing, you gotta be willing to question everything – even the sacred cows.

"I don't believe in the, we just do this thing because we've always done it. Anytime someone's like, hey, this is our process. I'm like, cool. Who made the process? Well, we did. Okay, can we improve it?" said Perez.

This mindset of continuous improvement is the secret sauce of success. By always looking for ways to optimize and innovate, you can stay one step ahead of the game. One way to do this is by creating a culture of experimentation within your team. Set aside some budget for testing out new ideas or create a dedicated space for brainstorming and prototyping. And don't be afraid of failure—it's all part of the learning process.

But hey, it's not all about the shiny new toys. You gotta make sure you're staying true to your brand's core message and values too. It's a balancing act, but one that's worth mastering.

Another way to shake things up is to seek diverse perspectives and ideas from all corners of your organization. Collaborate with other departments, talk to your customers, and bring in outside experts to get a fresh perspective. By embracing diversity and inclusivity, you can tap into a whole new world of creativity and innovation.

And don't be afraid to take some calculated risks. Sometimes, the boldest moves can lead to the biggest payoffs. Just look at REI – when engagement rates on their Facebook page started dropping, they didn't just throw in the towel. They made the gutsy decision to opt out of Black Friday altogether and encourage people to spend time outdoors instead. The result? A campaign that resonated with their audience and generated a ton of buzz and goodwill.

At the end of the day, challenging the status quo is all about having the courage to think differently and take action. It's not always comfortable, but it's always worth it.

Implementing Change: A Strategic Approach

The key is to take a strategic approach. Start small, with a pilot project or proof of concept. This way, you can test out new ideas in a controlled environment, gather data, and make informed decisions about what to do next. According to Adobe, 82% of companies are already doing this with "experience testing." So you'd be in good company.

For example, let's say you want to experiment with a new social media platform. Before diving in headfirst, you could create a small campaign, maybe a hashtag challenge or a series of short videos, and see how your audience responds. Track your engagement rates, follower growth, and any sales or leads generated from the campaign. If it's a hit, great! You can start thinking about how to scale up and integrate it into your larger social media strategy. If it flops, well, at least you didn't waste too much time or resources on it.

Another way to dip your toes into the waters of change is by setting up a dedicated innovation team within your marketing department. This can be a small group of forward-thinking individuals who are tasked with exploring new technologies, platforms, and strategies. They can conduct research, attend industry events, and bring back fresh ideas to the rest of the team. Having a dedicated space for experimentation and ideation can help foster a culture of innovation within your organization.

Once you've found a winning strategy, it's time to figure out how to integrate it into your overall marketing workflow. This might mean updating your processes, training your team, or even restructuring your whole organization. It's not always easy, but the payoff can be huge.

For instance, if you've discovered that personalized email campaigns are delivering better results than generic ones, you'll need to update your email marketing process to include more segmentation and customization. This might involve investing in new tools or software, training your team on how to use them effectively, and setting up new workflows and templates. It's a bit of upfront effort, but the long-term benefits – higher open rates, more conversions, happier customers – are well worth it.

The key throughout all of this is communication. As you're implementing these changes, make sure you're keeping your team (and your boss) in the loop. Explain the reasoning behind each decision, set clear goals and expectations, and provide plenty of support and resources along the way. Change can be scary, but if everyone understands the why and the how, they'll be much more likely to get on board.

Just remember: even as you're embracing all this change, you gotta make sure you're staying true to your brand. Consistency is key. As Perez says, "We can drive the direction of this any way we want. It might take a little while to make those changes, but we have to be open to innovating and making those changes so that we can all do a better job. Be better marketers, and better communicators." Amen to that.

Conclusion: Embracing Change as a Catalyst for Growth

In the world of marketing, change isn't just something to be tolerated – it's something to be embraced with open arms. It's the catalyst for growth, the spark that ignites innovation, and the key to unlocking your full potential.

Sure, it's not always going to be a smooth ride. There will be bumps, there will be bruises, and there will be moments when you feel like you're barely keeping your head above water. But as Perez reminds us, the goal isn't just change for the sake of change. It's about driving real, meaningful improvements in your marketing performance and customer experience, all while staying true to who you are as a brand.

So here's to the brave, the bold, and the slightly crazy marketers out there who are leading the charge into the great unknown. Keep questioning, keep experimenting, and keep pushing the boundaries of what's possible. The future of marketing is yours for the taking – so go out there and grab it with both hands.

And remember: If all else fails, just keep calm and pivot on. Cheers!

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