Seth Godin puts it succinctly: The only think you can bet on is change.
Seth's Blog: The new normal.
His post speaks to marketers about energy wasted in pursuit of security and stability. But I think it goes deeper. I think it's a perfect description of what agencies miss when they're scrambling en masse toward whatever is hot this minute. When they're looking for what Hugh MacLeod calls "the new advertising."
Green commercials, minimallist commercials, special efx extravaganzas, guerrilla, viral, branded content, product placement, pop-ups, banner ads, adwords, rss marketing, podcasting, blogvertising, whatever. The more you go back in time, the longer the list gets. When you go forward, new things get added faster. What's the hot method of the moment? What's the new bandwagon?
Every one of these things is a good thing. Every one of them is, or was, or will be again, useful. Some more than others. But they're tools. Techniques. And new tools are invented every day. Every minute, really. Agencies frequently think they're ahead of the curve, or at least keeping up, when they embrace one of these new tools. They're missing the point.
A few years ago, Mad Dogs and Englishman was the model of the new tool. The hottest thing in the world was the creative boutique. Obviously, that changed. Why are they gone? Not because they didn't learn podcasting. Because they didn't learn about change.
To keep up, you can't afford the time it takes to build a division dedicated to a technique. By the time you're good at it, the technique is old. Or, how about this: Build a culture of change. Find the next technique, and find a way to use it without opening a satellite office. Hint: go to the people who are doing it, and get them to do it for you.
Then go find the next one.
Use A Stick: The real tool is change.