The focus of our COVID talk has shifted to the viral mutations sprouting up around the world. From South Africa and the UK to California and Brazil, variants are making headlines.
The appearance of mutations is not surprising. Viruses are replicating machines—literally, they’re not even technically alive—and with every replication comes the possibility of mutation.
Because it’s not sentient, the virus isn’t looking to become more potent or transmissible, it just happens sometimes. Advantageous mistakes that result from replication are selected for; this concept of natural selection also underpins the Darwinian theory of evolution.
And while the virus can’t think, I would argue that those of us who are capable of reasoning have something to learn here. Goodness knows the virus has caused many hardships and horrors for humankind; all opportunities to find a positive learning are worth pursuing.
Any human looking to evolve and improve would be wise to explore this idea of mutation. For marketing professionals, this means intentionally morphing your messaging to try new things.
The amazing thing about digital marketing is that it’s so easy to experiment and pivot. Back in the Mad Men days, presentations were written on typewriters and meticulously laid out on matboard. Ads were printed in newspapers and hung on billboards. Once a concept was set, it was difficult to roll it back.
Not so with digital advertising. You can change your idea and approach with the click of a mouse. So don’t be afraid to try a variety of concepts. If you replicate the same campaign across Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn but find that it’s particularly successful on one of the three platforms, you’ve happened upon an advantageous accident. Time to explore it further.
This starts with asking why. It’s important to remember, as my high school biology teacher always said, that correlation does not prove causation. Just because an ad did better on Instagram than Facebook does not necessarily mean that difference is significant. It could simply be a coincidence.
However, if you test the approach again and find a similar discrepancy in performance, then you’re onto something. That’s when you run with it.
Advertising, marketing, and pop culture share a lot of overlap, and I can’t help but think about mutation as a means of survival for pop culture icons. Take Cher, for example, someone who has constantly changed her persona and image throughout her fifty-plus-year career. As a 74-year-old woman, she remains a major cultural figure and force in the entertainment industry, a space that is notoriously youth-obsessed.
Cher’s secret to survival is her malleability. RuPaul lovingly poked fun at the many eras of Cher on season 10 of Drag Race, but her longevity is no joke. It’s brilliant marketing. Cher is always willing to try new things—following her nose for pop culture—and she continues to succeed as a result.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus opined that “change is the only constant in life.” And it’s true; whether conscious or unconscious, change is happening in all things at all times. By making intentional adjustments in your marketing efforts, you create a reality where you can make the most of advantageous changes and find a way forward in our ever-shifting world.