Is your market department’s response rate slower than it should be?

“Chameleon marketing” is a term that’s become popular in today’s business world. Everybody wants to be a chameleon marketer, adapting quickly to the market’s demands.

But here’s the thing: Chameleons aren’t actually all that intelligent, and their responses to their environments are fairly predictable. They change colors—but that’s about it. They’re pretty passive little guys. Basically, they just hang out in trees, hoping no one will notice them while they wait for food to come along. That’s really not a good strategy to imitate if you want to be successful in today’s competitive marketing arena.

As marketers in today’s digital world, we need something more sophisticated than a chameleon’s camouflage abilities. Unlike chameleons, we WANT to be noticed—and we need a far more can-do, take-charge approach than just hoping customers will stumble onto us. Instead, we should be constantly and actively pursuing our customers, using one strategy in one situation, adapting and fine-tuning that for a shift in the market, and then coming up with something completely different for yet another set of circumstances. And we have to do it all at blinding speeds.

So don’t settle for being a chameleon. Instead, I suggest that you try out a stronger metaphor for the agility you need in today’s fast-paced marketing world: become a Cuttlefish Marketer. Cuttlefish are intelligent and proactive predators, with camouflage abilities that make a chameleon’s look like a child’s trick. With their highly evolved brains, these odd relatives of octopus and squids have the ability to respond instantaneously to cues in their environment, searching out and capturing their prey with strategies that are tailor-made for each situation.

The cuttlefish’s level of swift and creative adaptability isn’t some handy little skill it has on the side; instead, it’s integrated it into everything it does. It’s what makes it such an agile predator of the sea—and as marketing executives, we need a similar set of skills integrated into our entire makeup. Our marketing departments can’t pull “chameleon marketing techniques” out from their back pockets, as though they were a little something extra that might come in useful every now and then. Instead, rapid responsiveness has to be inherent in our overall function.

Swift, creative adaptability is not an occasional option to implement; it’s the essential skill that pulls everything together. It’s what makes the marketing department’s function integral with the entire life force of a hyper-growth business.

Don’t be a chameleon marketer. Be a cuttlefish.