Long ago, before digital invaded advertising, marketing and media, the basics of the print industry hadn’t seen significant change for decades.

Then someone figured out ones and zeroes. And things began to shift rapidly.

Seemingly overnight, what had once been the purview of shops able to invest in big machines and the real estate to house them, was changing.  Upstarts with nothing more than a desktop computer and laser printer began nibbling away at market share with something called “desktop publishing.”

The invasion wasn’t limited to print. Digital solutions were changing every facet of advertising, marketing and the related production. Even film was losing ground (remember Kodachrome and Ektachrom?). I had friends at Kodak who went from scoffing at the idea that anything could ever replace film, to arguing that film’s quality could never be matched, to wringing hands over declining sales and pending RIFs.

The change that began to disrupt markets in the 80’s and 90’s only grew more intense. Today a global economy, a shrinking world, increasingly diverse centers, social media, and smart devices are just a few realities that precipitate and contribute to constant change.

Welcome to the new normal.

While disconcerting to some, marketers, professional service providers and those possessing true entrepreneurial instincts should take heart; because anyone able to handle the unsettling nature, and navigate the changing landscape is poised to become a trusted voice.

What are the keys to occupying this coveted space?  Three things.

1. Build Communication and Development Strategies On A Listening Platform

There are at least two big reasons change is unsettling: it is often a corridor to the unknown; and it tests existing processes and values. (The irony is that testing these is the key to growth and development — witness the child daring to take that first step.) Intentional Listening changes everything. It accelerates learning, nurtures legitimate insight, and results in improved perspective.

2. Cultivate An Opportunistic Perspective

Perspective that is born of intentional listening is uniquely aligned to market place realities. While keenly aware of problems, pitfalls and risks, change management — not to mention, leadership — derives from a perspective that discerns opportunity.

3. Focus On Solutions

In the midst of high-consequence change the market covets solutions — to the fear of new unknowns, the pitfalls, and the risks — to the new realities that precipitate sleepless nights. Focus here (versus preoccupation with historic models, offerings and capabilities), and the market will pay attention.

Listen, cultivate opportunistic perspective, and deliver viable solutions; follow this roadmap, and you’ll find your practice thriving — even in the midst of the volatile new normal.