Be a game changer

The last two years I have heard many CEO’s state, “I am just trying to be sure my company survives.” Sound familiar? Now, I am starting to hear, “sales are coming back”. Companies hope to regain the ground they lost the last two years. Later, with their feet back under them, they will think about growth.

That seems logical and yet, the truth is, later may be too late. The last two years caused some forever changes in our markets and in the game we call business. Providing value, better or differently than anyone else, has never been more important to growth and even survival. That means there is no standing still, no time to take a deep breath, no time to admire the recent work you have done. It is time to raise the high bar, time to challenge your company to be a game changer in your industry.

You may feel your industry is changing more than you wish it were. Or you may not feel any substantive change at all. Those that are relatively happy with the status quo will quickly learn that nothing really stands still–without steps forward, we will slide back. All because technology is changing so rapidly and customers’ opinions are skewed by the value others provide, whether they are in our industry or not.

For most industries, the biggest threats aren’t from the competitors we duke it out with day to day. It is from our “blind side”. It is from a competitor we never heard of who finds a new way to approach our business and re-do it. Many times that new approach is made possible due to new technology. For example, while they are still printed and used as part of many companies advertising budgets, do you still use the yellow pages to find service providers? Why not use a more helpful tool, like the new start up Service Noodle, that allows a customer to search facebook-like profiles for the “best fit” service providers in their area?

Blockbuster declared bankruptcy because netflix and red box were game changers. New banks, like Freedom Bank in KC and Avenue Bank in Nashville, that use an outside-in thought process, anticipating and responding to customer needs, will be the new standard. Commercial printers that don’t leverage the data they collect and print into informational decisional making streams for their customers may be left out.

Back in the day, game changing technology came along once in a while–the microwave, the camcorder, the cell phone. Now new gadgets and approaches are introduced regularly. As consumers we can hardly keep up. What was new yesterday is replaced with something better much more quickly than before.

If your industry is static, it is time for a game changer. It can introduced by your company or someone elses. The best way to identify a game changer is to look at the “pain points” in your industry. What do customers put up with in your industry because it is standard but they have never liked it; just tolerated it.  By understanding pain points, industries are re-born:

  • Coupon clipping has moved to Groupon online
  • Dirty dust rags are replaced by Swiffers
  • Heavy luggage is on wheels
  • Callaway’s large golf heads are providing golfers with more confidence
  • Apps are a way of integrating the information needs in our lives and making them portable
  • We are shopping for travel and new homes online

The list could go on and on and it would be great if you added to it with your comments. Share too, which industries you think are most vulnerable to the next game changer. And then ask yourself, might it be mine?

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