Not many of us who are in business today have experienced the kind of turmoil caused by major economic fluctuations such as the Great Depression and the current recession.
However, many of us have experienced the impact that advancing technology has had on our lives both personally and professionally.
These advancements have forced us to change the way we live and the way we operate our businesses. For example, the move from ‘snail mail’ to fax to email. The advance from manual typesetting and graphic design to desktop publishing.
Each time a method of operation becomes obsolete, its replacement opens up a new opportunity. Those who see the opportunity and take advantage of it will thrive. Those who bemoan the loss the old and don’t move forward will suffer the consequences. It’s a harsh but indisputable fact.
The current global economic situation is just another of these initially unwelcome changes that face us today. It’s how we view it and what we do about it that will determine our continued profitability or struggle. Just as it wouldn’t have helped to rail against the advent of the fax machine or electronic mail, it won’t help to complain about the economy and the fact that our market may be behaving in an irrationally tight fisted manner.
What we need to do is to identify where the market is headed and be there, ready to serve, when it arrives. Profit has always been and always will be made only when you sell something that someone else perceives as having greater value than the money they exchange for it. In other words, they will not exchange their money for anything that they feel is not worth the expenditure, or with which they can easily do without.
In the world of business, and particularly copy writing, it’s critical to understand what our market has need of right now, and what constitutes extreme value. Value that is so high and so desirable that the market feels compelled to exchange their money to acquire it.
It may mean altering what we do. It may mean adding products or services that are more appealing and it may mean dropping others that are simply not as desirable as they once were.
Looking at the world of business over the past few decades we can see many examples of this practice. Apple reinvented themselves first as the computer ‘for the rest of us’, then entered the world of music with iTunes and the iPod, then the world of telecommunications with the iPhone. IBM moved from being a computer hardware supplier into a business consulting supplier. The office supply industry moved from providing office supplies such as paper, envelopes and other office paraphenalia to supplying photocopying, printing and computer consulting services.
The list goes on and on.
The point is, with the rapid changes that continually face us, our modas operandi has to be ‘adapt or die’.
The key is to adopt the world renowned hockey player, Wayne Gretsky’s success formula. Gretsky told reporters that his formula on the ice was to simply visualize where the puck was going and to get there before the puck did. In other words, he immediately assessed where the puck was, the likely action of the player in control and extrapolated the path of the puck in order to intercept it before other players realized what was happening.
This requires that we stop feeling like a deer caught in the headlights. A rational overview of the market begins with possibility thinking. Just because the facts say one thing, doesn’t mean that it should be so. Remember, facts are just temporary circumstances subject to change.
How can we assess where the market is going? Talking to the market is one way. Identifying their fears, needs and aspirations helps us to positon our products and articulation accurately. Staying abreast of upcoming and cutting edge technology is another. Who’d have thought 5 years ago that you could get in front of millions of people using free utilities on the internet?
Success isn’t dependent on lucky breaks. As the oft quoted concert pianist said when a fan remarked how lucky he was to be able to play so well, “I got lucky by practising day in and day out for twenty years.”
Success is dependent on good planning, clear and visionary thinking and plain old pig-headed persistance.