I've talked about this issue in probably 700 of the 1000+ statements I have given over the past 8 years … traditional media, predominately newspapers, are in a free fall and it will only get worse. To prove this point, a recent article in WSJ (Wall Street Journal) shared some research by GroupM where they…
I've talked about this issue in probably 700 of the 1000+ statements I have given over the past 8 years … traditional media, predominately newspapers, are in a free fall and it will only get worse. To prove this point, a recent article in WSJ (Wall Street Journal) shared some research by GroupM where they stated that “global spending on newspaper print is expected to decline 8.7% in 2016 … the largest drop since the recession of 2009 when it dropped 13.7%. ” These are big numbers when converted to dollars. And while this is significant, it is not my point … their CUSTOMERS are the real issue.
We can talk all day about the implications this has for many people, including the employees and suppliers to these organizations, but that is a topic for another day and another discussion. Let me just leave this one on the table by summarizing it in just 3 words … THEY MISSED IT. If you want to read more about how this impacting thousands of employees and changes in their industry I would encourage you to read the article, “Plummeting Newspaper Ad Revenue Sparks new Wave of Changes.”
These traditional media organizations, newspapers being a major component, missed it … they missed the Internet Revolution and the Digital Economy. They were so powerful and consumed with their own success and domination that they missed the Tsunami headed to shore that was going to change their world forever. And if you need a quick refresher … think of Craigslist … the first “shot across the bow” that literally wiped out their stalwart of classified advertising. They never recovered from this and never attempted to change their model to compete with Craigslist … they missed it.
I could go on and on about how they missed many other aspects relating to their industry but that is not the point I want to make … or the opportunity that is present today for EVERY BUSINESS LEADER. I want to talk about HOW THEY COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS FROM HAPPENING so we can all learn from each other's mistakes and apply them to your industry.
I want to answer the question, “WHY DID NOT THEY SEE THIS COMING … THEIR CUSTOMERS WERE TELLING THEM WITH THEIR ACTIONS.”
These changes did not happen overnight. Granted, they happened faster than any other time in our history but they were not instant. There were plenty of warning signs from their customers … their subscribers, advertisers, and readers … that could have guided them out of the cave. Customers were telling them how they wanted something more effective, less expensive, and easier to use.
Back to Craigslist for an example … it was a great model they could have overcome and become a leader in if they had been more “outwardly focused” rather than “inwardly focused.” They missed it. When Craigslist entered the market it was new and innovative … a Blue Ocean strategy for a fat and overpriced service called classified ads. I know, I placed many of them in my day and could not believe how much I had to pay for minimal results. It was a bloated system designed to make newspapers very rich.
And just like all the other models that come along and blew up a bloated industry (think of Uber, AirBnB, Amazon, Zappos, etc.) they became successful because the incumbent's did not want to change their model … it was their “cash cow” at the time and they made billions. They had all the power because they had the audience … the CUSTOMERS. They could have adopted more of a Craigslist model and stopped Craigslist in its tracks … but they did not. They thought because of their power in the market they could dictate what the customer should get … remember Henry Ford when he only wanted to offer black cars?
If they had actually LISTENED TO THEIR CUSTOMERS and realized their true desires and needs … to sell their stuff in less time and less money … they could have owned this market and created an entirely new revenue stream. They missed it because they did not listen to their customers and come up with a plan to give them something of great value. The only wanted to offer it in black.
They also missed that the CUSTOMER WAS IN TOTAL CONTROL of the purchasing decisions. With the switch from the Industrial Revolution to the Internet Revolution, customers had many more choices and could now vote (with their wallets) which one (s) they wanted to support. They chose Craigslist because there was no competitive alternative from the newspapers. The news customers left. They went to a better model … one that saved them what they were screaming for … efficiency, time, and cost.
The newspapers must still be in denial today because they still do not have an offering to compete effectively with Craigslist. But as the saying goes, “the cows have left the barn” so their opportunity is gone. They missed it.
THIS WAS A CUSTOMER ISSUE … IF THEY WERE LISTENING TO AND IN TUNE WITH WHAT WOULD HELP THEIR CUSTOMERS LIVES THEY COULD HAVE CHANGED.
Now I would ask you to think about this with regard to your own business … your own industry … your own customers. What is it in your industry that is “fat and bloated with margin” and not giving your customers what they really want at a reasonable price? I believe there are opportunities to identify this in every every industry. What exists in what you do or provide to your customers that would love to see changed? What could be changed in your business which would actually help your customers live (or businesses) improve? What could you offer that would be more efficient and / or less costly?
And what could you change in your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE which would blow your customers mind in how much you cared about them and demonstrated how much you cared about improving their lives (or business)? What are these? If you do not know, it's time to find out … because they are there. If you do not believe the opportunity is there and there is nothing you can do, go back to the top of this post and reread the case study on Craigslist … there is always an opportunity.
THIS IS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERY BUSINESS LEADER TODAY … identify the areas by finding out from your customers what would improve their life significantly if you could change it. Be bold … be open minded … be creative … and encourage this feedback from your customers. If you do this … constantly … they will actually see you truly care and maybe, just maybe, start telling you something they are not telling anyone else (including your competitors).
When this happens, you all but eliminate the danger of becoming the “newspaper in your industry” and it opens the door to become the “Craigslist in your industry.” This is where future minded business leaders want to go … now you have the insight to get there. Are you up for the challenge?