It frustrates me when I miss a couple days of blogging. I always feel that I Iet people down when I do that. But I have been running like crazy for the last couple of weeks, and I could not find the necessary time to get everything out of my head, and on to the computer screen on a timely basis. I have submitted a request to the powers that be that days be extended from 24 hours to 27, but to date my request has not been acted upon. So here I am, having to figure out how to squeeze everything into the 24 hours with which we all have to work.
I received a call from a distraught friend the other day.
If Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko character was standing in front of an auditorium of shareholders today, he might change his opening from “Greed is Good” to “Change is Challenging”.
The fact is, never has it been more important to be willing to embrace change. The economy has forced it. Technology has enabled it. The marketplace has demanded it.
- Business, as we know it, has forever changed.
- Consumer behavior has changed.
- Consumer spending has changed.
- Brand loyalty has changed.
- Employee loyalty has changed.
- Career choices have changed.
- The length of time people spend at their career has changed.
- Corporate titles have changed.
- Corporate goals have changed.
- Investor expectations have changed.
- Length of time to develop products and services have changed.
- The way we sell has changed.
- The way we market has changed.
- Allotted time to reach success has changed.
- The way we communicate has changed.
- The ways in which we build relationships have changed.
- The definition of a relationship has changed.
- The definition of a friend has changed.
Change is difficult. But if you don’t embrace change, and figure out how to adapt, change will beat you. If you aren’t willing to embrace change, your brand will die, your employees will leave, your customers will disappear, your company revenues will fall, and your corporate entity will cease to exist.
Sometimes we make conscious decisions to change. Sometimes change is forced upon us. Either way, change is inevitable. Nothing can stay the same forever; that would simply make life unbearably boring. The challenge that we have today is that change happens so quickly, that if you aren’t watching out for it, things can change right before your eyes, and you won’t have time to react. It is so important to always be looking out for the signs that say “times, they are a changin’”.
Change is Challenging.
Change is Good.
The hardest thing in the world is remaining cool.
Great marketing can sell any product. Even if the product is less than great.
As many people who follow me know, I love niche businesses. I always say, find a niche, get great at it, own it, and you have a business that will thrive and prosper. The large companies will leave you alone (or acquire you), and the smaller companies will never execute as well as you do. Niches lead to riches! (Hey, I just made that up; the creative juices are flowing today! But of course, that saying does not work for my British readers who pronounce the word niche as neesh…rhyming with “Sheesh, why can’t they learn to speak English correctly”?)
There is something else that I love. When someone creates a niche business that is built on a niche business. In essence, after the original niche has been developed, it begets another niche business that takes advantage of the first established niche. The result is what I like to call a niche-to-the-second-power, and it simply shows how innovative people can be. Allow me to share one of these business ideas with you.
I have been using a Flip camera since they were first introduced in 2006. If you are not familiar with Flip camera, in its purest form, it is a very inexpensive video camera, that fits in your pocket, has 60 min. of video storage available, and has a built-in USB connection that flips open and allows you to download the video footage to your computer, or upload to YouTube and Facebook with one push of the button. Instead of being a feature rich camera, it is a minimal feature camera that allows you to have video capabilities with you at all times. For under $200.
Flip has become hugely successful, and you see thousands of people carrying these cameras with them to capture video wherever and whenever it happens. In fact, the cameras have sold so well, that Cisco recently purchased the company to allow them to better tap the consumer market. Cisco saw the niche, and wanted to own it through acquisition.
Here comes the niche-to-the-second-power.
Pixability is a company that will send you a Flip camera with shot guides, allow you to shoot video of whatever you want, send the camera back to them, and they will professionally edit the video, adding titles, music, transitions, and your corporate or personal logo. All this for $495. What a great idea! It allows you to have a professional looking, promotional video all for under $500. Genius!
A great example of a niche service built upon a niche product. Keep this in mind when you are thinking about the services and products that your company offers, or could offer. The niche opportunities are there, all one has to do is find them, and exploit them. Are there any niche ideas waiting to happen within your own business?
When I drive to work in the morning, I’m a News Radio type of guy. Because I consider myself a news junkie, even though I find myself in the car for only 15 minutes, I like to get my news fix as opposed to listening to music, and the same is true when driving home.
This summer, I have been intrigued by a series of ads that have been playing on the radio, and they are ads put forth by the state of Michigan travel bureau. I know that I have heard similar ads for the state of Michigan in the past, but for some reason, this year I have really taken notice of these ads, part of a series named Pure Michigan.
In fact, just the other day, sitting at a stoplight, listening to one of their radio spots, I was mesmerized with the words and imagery that were used for the ad. I thought it was some of the best written copy that I have ever heard, and the picture that was painted, both with the choice of words, and the intonation and timbre of the voice; well it made me want to both visit Michigan (again), as well as find out who was behind the campaign.
But Advertising Age beat me to it. They recently ran an article about the ad campaign, and imagine my surprise when I read that the voice on the radio and TV spots was that of Buzz Lightyear. I didn’t realize this until I read it, and of course now when I hear the ads, I certainly recognize that it is Tim Allen.
There are a couple of lessons to be learned from this marketing campaign. First, in this world of technological tricks and consumer-generated media, there remains nothing better than meticulously written, perfectly chosen words. Words have power, words can paint a picture, and words can take you to another place simply by the way they are written. The Michigan.org campaign does this beautifully.
Secondly, the power of the spoken word is sometimes even greater than the impact of the written word. Speaking properly, and understanding how to use the right emphasis, at the right time; well, it is a talent that seems to be less important to most people today, but one that can help position a person, or a company, as a leader in its field.
I love this campaign. Listen to the ads, starting with the one for Mackinac Island. I recommend that you listen with your eyes closed, and “see” the pictures that the words present. Then think about this the next time you write some copy for your website, your sales letter, or simply when you post on your Facebook site, or Twitter. Words can make the difference between failure and success.
Words are powerful; use them well.
Sometimes, old school is just really cool.
While I am not a student of the Bible, I'm sure there must be some reference along the lines of Thou Shalt Not Say "I Told You So", or something like that. Although, come to think of it, after Moses warned Pharaoh that plagues would be set upon Egypt, and in fact they did happen, I think he went back to Pharaoh and said "See, I told you that would happen. Now would you please let us leave? My peeps and I want to go!" Or something like that. So maybe it is okay in certain circumstances. But I digress.
Some companies just get it. Best Buy is one of those companies.