Why Accept The Change Around Us, Doesn’t Affect Us
When negative things happen, it is a sign to adapt or face the consequences.
You can think it doesn’t affect you and you carry on regardless, but it does affect you. I took that stance.
I am seeing it from those within my network at the moment. The EU Referendum at the end of June is seeing repercussions. From sales hitting a slump to pulling out from the supply chain, saying yes and then saying no, I am seeing it from different industries.
The last thing that companies can do is move into 2017 by carrying on regardless. When things don’t look right, it’s a case of reflection, adaptation and the opportunity to evolve.
The last thing I want this article to become is a nod to the referendum leading to the disintegration of businesses. We move on, we acclimatise. You can look at it in any time of change where external circumstances can have catastrophic results.
When Things Got Really Bad
When the recession was well and truly here six years ago, circumstances for me and the loss of a customer (that was attributable to around 60% of turnover, hands up 100% responsible), resulted in a change of approach for my business from one that was showcasing the value of other peoples products to one that is now focused on the value created outside of a customers product.
Taking a customer to court over unpaid bills, hit a pretty dark place a few years ago. The customer liquidated his business whilst the dispute was ongoing ie. I’d never get what was outstanding, paid. However, the £6k+ invoices from the solicitors still had to be paid (within seven days). I guess the last straw was when I was in a car accident and my car was a right off (yet again, 100% my fault).
The reason I mention this is that at the time, everything felt extremely difficult. Looking back now it became the trigger for a stronger business rather than accepting everything as it was and carrying on as though nothing happened.
That’s what many businesses do. Whilst the world changes, they remain in inertia mode.
We’ve Changed, So Why Haven’t Businesses?
Sprout Social have recently released a report that looks at what annoys people when it comes to brand behaviour on social media. This was conducted from over 1,000 respondents between July 5 and July 11, 2016.
The biggest frustration was the lack of ability to interact and the reliance on social as a pure promotion tool. This resulted in over half of the respondents deciding to unfollow.
Just because a company carries on the way they have always behaved, doesn’t mean consumer behaviour is set in stone from a generation ago.
The consumer has adapted, many businesses haven’t. To add further disparity between sticking to a way you have always behaved, by using social as a medium to advertise, 41% of people who unfollowed brands was based on the reluctance to share relevant information.
Change Around Us
Sunday (28th August) also set a benchmark for failure to adapt and evolve. BHS brought down it’s shutters on nearly 100 years of retail operation.
When I was a kid during the 80s, the BHS in Bournemouth was a stalwart of the shopping visit with my mum. In 2000 it attracted 13.4% of all clothing shopping in the UK. In 2015, it accounted for 8.2% of all shopping. The market share had dropped from 2.3% to 1.4% over the same period.
During that time the high street has seen a higher perception for value retail brands. With H&M, Primark and TKMaxx, providing more aspirational products at affordable prices. Whilst BHS remained in the same bubble they had always operated within.
Nothing Is Stable
As businesses we try not to change. Everything is considered as stable. The practices that have been handed down from generation to generation, has meant that there is some sort of control and process for everything to work. A product is introduced to the marketplace, it is promoted, people buy, it is repeated. Just because this worked a few years ago, doesn’t mean it will next year.
The evolving business is always going to succeed as long as it listens to the marketplace.
Her are some questions to ask when it comes to acknowledging things being different than they once were.
- How well do you know your customer? Brands will say proudly that they know their customers inside out. On the other side, do customers really want to be bombarded with relentless enewsletters where the whole focus is how good they are. Ernest Capbert from Who Buys Your Stuff put this really succinctly in this three minute video below.
- Can small changes be made rather than a huge leap of faith? Why do something that you know very little about, it doesn’t make business sense (read my article on no one has heard your version from last week). Making small tests rather than going all in, has to be the way forward. For instance, when The Marketing Homebrew podcast started in January 2015, it wasn’t a case of investing in state of the art technology to record and learn how to use editing software, we built things slowly by getting comfortable with a new approach to both of us (audio). It is only now that Ian Rhodes and myself truly recognise this as an initiative with longevity and want to up the ante in 2017. You have to perfect what you know.
- Can you move a mindset from accepting the world as it was? Paid media is not the only way to acquire business. The media owners don’t have the command and dictatorship that they once had. From the Sprout Survey research, people want to be treated as people. We can now develop relationships, build audiences and grow a community by being present and consistency when showing up week after week.
- You have to change the question from ‘how many people can I get to buy my product/service’ to ‘how can I find a stronger way to connect with my customers and potential customers?’ Needs will always change, what was ‘we need a brochure’ in 2001, moved to ‘when will we be number one in Google’ in 2007 and has been replaced by ‘we need a viral,’ whatever that means to someone. You have to constantly be sewing the seeds for different harvests. This is about helping your audience do more and get what they want.
- Becoming too comfortable is a dangerous place to be. I made the mistake by thinking that life was always about being rewarded and getting paid. The moment I did that I became vulnerable and wasn’t ready when the fall happened. I realised that business doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it can be an unrelenting and unforgiving place sometimes.
Many businesses just don’t adjust and are completely out of touch. On the opposite side the consumer now has full control.
Lets Round Up
When things start to get tough, it’s time to change and make a choice. You can follow what everyone else has done or choose your own path. It’s a scary process, but businesses can’t keep their head in the sand and continue with outdated models of communication that does not compliment the behaviour of someone else.
Those companies who are starting to find real problems now will not stay in business if they do not adapt to altered marketing conditions. Those who will succeed have the opportunity to reflect where they are, where they want to get to and how they want to get there.