target changing lanes not changing games.


I sat at a red light the other day. I was well out of position. I was in the far right lane of a one way street, needing to make a left at the next intersection, another one way street. Truth be told, the left lane was so long that when I coasted up to it, I went to the far right to get the poll position.

I sat at the light, gripping the clutch in anticipation, my focus completely on the cross traffic light high on my right, waiting to see it turn yellow then red. That would mean mine would be green in a second; about the time frame I had to make my move.

Yellow, red, green; and thats my cue. I sped off in front of the other cars likely causing them to grimace or shake their heads at yet another motorcyclist insistent on being in front. I crossed three lanes of traffic, blinker blinking, and made my left. Back down to cruising speed and just another vehicle in traffic.

I have thought about this scenario considerably since it happened, maybe trying to determine if it was strategy or just me being an aggressive prick in traffic – you can guess which one I have landed on.

And it occurred to me that I have the opportunity to do the same thing in business for myself, for my clients and for my colleagues. Interactive is changing very quickly. I just read an article on how printing out a gun might be viable in the near future – yes you read that right, printing out a gun. I doubt many of our clients in interactive are considering how to bring to light a product that can be printed and assembled at home as a viable offering, let alone sales channel. And yet, we have simpler challenges in front of us as agencies. We need to convince our CMO clients that the CEO they get nervous about giving a shareholder presentation isn’t the right voice or face to put on a blog or twitter handle. We struggle to share the value of a single repository of content against a legacy of disparate systems that have so many internal politics attached it can sometimes be a struggle to see how they will ever disconnect them.

And yet to those of us that are leading this industry through a growth spurt and feeling the day to day gap between what CAN be done and what WILL be done are perhaps ignoring the single most important opportunity the cross space of technology and service provider has been offered in history. The most valuable position in interactive right now isn’t the person who hasn’t showered in three days, is addicted to Mountain Dew and is working to figure out the next great data binding class for natural API configurations; it’s those people who are sitting at the table with the client. Agencies like to think of themselves as game changers; but this is whole heartedly out dated. This approach is going to cause agencies to face attrition both internally as well as with clients at an increasing pace. By far what our clients and this industry is looking for, whether they are conscious of it or not are ‘lane changers’.

Lane changers don’t work in a bubble the way Game Changers do. Lane changers are omnipresent of the rules and constraints they have around them. Opportunities with technology is one variable that comes into play along with client aptitude, adoption likelihood and tolerance. Couple that against agency core competencies, resourcing and patience level and you have yourself an abbreviated list of variables that can better define a roadmap for a prolonged partnership and revenue stream.

Being a game changer is fine, but the opportunity for those moments are far and between; lane changing can happen at any moment and though it takes a steadfast attention to your environment and its participants you will find that the impact is not only appreciated by the clients but also offer a chance to call our wins internally which can impact morale and retention.

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