Somewhere in China – or Sri Lanka, or the Philippines, or Mexico – there’s a business that’s selling the same thing that you do, but at a fraction of the price. There’s a restaurant not far away that not only serves food as good as yours, but also offers valet parking and a loyalty program for regular customers – all for 20% less than you’re charging.
Not so long ago starting a business meant finding staff, sourcing equipment and building infrastructure. Today a 15 year-old can start a business in their bedroom and sell it for $30 million two years later.
Today The Rule Is ‘There Are No Rules’Investors and middlemen are less important today than at any point in the modern history of commerce. It used to be the case that if you listened to the right advice, and did the right things, your business had a better-then-even chance of succeeding.
But now that’s no longer the case.
Today you can do all the things that they’re saying you should do, and yet still fail. Why? Because the world is changing too fast.
Is it because of the global economic meltdown that we’ve all been living through for the past few years?
I don’t think so. Recessions are cyclical. There’s nothing unique about today’s economic uncertainties compared to ones we went through the early 90s, the early 80s, or even the two big energy crises in the 1970s (the OPEC-led one in 1973, followed by the Iranian-led one in 1979).
Where To Pin The Blame?So is it because of social media? Well, yes and no.
Buyer evolution isn’t happening because of social media. Rather, social media channels are fanning the flames of opinion from a newly-empowered, networked customer whose level of expectation and tolerance continue to evolve.
Even before social media channels became so ingrained into so much of what we do, as consumers we had reached the limit of tolerating outdated sales, marketing and service models put in place to serve the supplier rather than ourselves. The growing discontent in buyer expectations has been brewing for years – if not decades. But without being able to find like-minded individuals who shared our discontent, we were doomed to suffer in silence and apparent isolation. Social media came along and just happened to be a really good way of venting our frustrations, only to find out that we weren’t alone.
If you want to blame something for today’s business uncertainties, then blame business itself.
Most businesses today are soulless, faceless organizations designed from the ground-up to be singularly focussed on efficiencies, profitability, management and P&L. Reduce costs, increase profits. Six-sigma this, outsource that. To hell with the customer. Consumers, being on the receiving end of this, have had enough.
Now I’m not suggesting that companies become charities: we can all accept that a business needs to make money in order to succeed and grow. But the customer expectation assumptions made by business owners when they drew up their marketing plans and business models of yesterday are no longer applicable. Moreover, no matter what you’re selling customers today have a choice – and they’re exerting their right to choose.
Effective Marketing Today Means Finding Your Own WayThat’s means, in terms of marketing your business, doing something that your customer hasn’t seen before. Something unique and original. Something new. Something “you“.
Stop doing what someone else is doing, if it’s simply because they’re doing it and you’re not. You need to find your own way. Customers very often don’t know what they want. However, they usually know what they don’t want. If they’re coming to you it’s because there’s something that they don’t like from the competition. They’re looking for a different buying experience. It’s your job to convey that experience to them at every marketing touchpoint.
“Choice” is about having a preference of one thing over another. If you’re appearing to be the same company as your competition, then you’re throwing away all that makes your business the unique organization that it is.