It’s time again to make New Year resolutions, make new promises, set new targets and make new plans. For most of us, it’s also a time to “wish-I-haddone-more”, wish I had planned better, worked harder, quit smoking, kept my new year resolution of 2010! This new year would also be the same as last year, if we do not start thinking differently. The last decade proved that in business, as in personal life, those brands and people who reinvented, stayed in business. You need to be alert and look out for new trends; but more than that, you need to be more aggressive in observing what’s not working and then changing it fast. Being in love with your old ways (however successful they were in the past) can be disastrous.
OLD NEED NOT BE GOLD
If you want to raise a happy child, the rule is, “Till he is five years old, treat him like a king. Till he is 13, treat him like a prince. From 13 to 18, treat him like a pauper. After 18, become his best friend.” The crux is that good parents change their ways as their children grow. Good marketers too change their strategies as markets and times change.
What worked this decade will be outdated in the new one. In the 1970s, the hottest marketing invention was the ‘Direct Mailer’. It is known as ‘Junk Mail’ today. The 1980s was dominated by “collect tokens; and exchange for gifts.” You were encouraged to collect bottle caps, tokens, labels and encouraged to exchange them for gifts, discounts etc. Today, you log on to Groupon.com or snapdeal.com and find out exciting discount offers of the day. After all, who has the patience today to wait and collect a desired number of tokens and then get the discounts. The 1990s saw the explosion of ‘Loyalty Cards’. Every retailer had a loyalty programme, which promised discounts and freebies. Today, the consumer is not motivated by just discounts. He wants more. He wants to take charge – and Smirnoff showed him how. It launched a campaign named “Be There”. You were invited to a nightclub, but there was more it. Loyal consumers even got a chance to plan which music they wanted to hear and everything else they wanted to do that night via Smirnoff’s Facebook page. Today, those are the Fan Pages on Facebook that do more business for a brand, than loyalty cards do.
The new decade is all about ‘interactivity’. On December 14, 2010, Apple launched its first iAd for the iPad with the advertisement of Disney’s new film Tron Legacy. The advertisement featured 10 minutes of video and movie stills. Ipad had a movie theater locator with showtimings and a preview of the sound track, which you, as a privileged user, had the option of purchasing from iTunes. With the iPad becoming the “it” thing for gifting this holiday season, and with already more than 7.5 million iPad users worldwide, advertising professionals would soon have to reinvent and start thinking beyond the 30 or 60 second spots on TV, for those are the interactive advertisements that will be the next new exciting trend of the coming years.
All that you learnt about marketing in school is going to change totally. So be ready to give up your favourite ideas and start adopting new ones.
INNOVATION IS NOT GOOD SOMETIMES
A great leader, like a great parent, changes and moulds his ways first. More importantly, a good leader never fails to accept his mistakes. It helps him to remove the shackles, free himself from the burden of his faults and move faster.
On April 10 this year, Microsoft launched its social networking phones Kin1 and Kin2. Exactly 79 days later, on June 30, 2010, it killed the products. A record! No other products till date had had such a short lifespan. To survive, you need to innovate; but to sustain success, you need to quickly kill innovations that went wrong. Sometimes, there is no second chance for flops. Intelligent marketers know that. ESPN launched its mobile phones in 2006 with the idea of offering exclusive ESPN content. No one bought either the product or the idea. ESPN withdrew the concept within eight months. HD DVD was supposed to be the next big thing after the traditional DVD. However, Blu–ray of Sony took away the cake and the Toshiba led HD DVD disappeared from the forefront within two years.
In their haste to outperform their competitors, sometimes apparently great sounding innovations fail to perform. An intelligent marketer should not hesitate to accept defeat, drop the idea and move on. It’s more cost effective that way, than trying to pump in more money in marketing a flop idea. Sometimes, it is argued that marketing kills the spirit of innovation. A dead idea, with excellent marketing can extend the life of that idea. We need to watch out for such ideas and kill them at the right time. Microsoft launched Zune in 2006, to compete with the iPod. It came nowhere close. Even today, Zune is struggling. Time you gave up the fight Bill Gates and dropped it. After all, when it comes to innovation, the one man, the one company that defeats all by miles is Steve Jobs and Apple. The 1990s saw Apple losing out to competitors and almost fading away; but the last decade belonged to Steve Jobs. Jobs has set new benchmarks, created and started new trends and changed marketers and consumers forever.
REINVENT & REJOICE
The key to successful reinvention is consistent investment and focus on innovation. The one company that dared to challenge and even defeat the biggies is Samsung. Whoever thought that this Korean company could defeat Japanese electronic giants – but Samsung did just that. Consistent investment in innovation has helped it beat giants like Sony; and now, Apple too is feeling threatened by it.
It is innovation that has transformed HP from an under performing printer-reliant giant to the world’s largest tech company. Huawei Technologies managed to become the #2 telecom-equipment provider and to beat big competitors like Nokia Siemens through constant product updates. The biggest innovator of the decade award definitely goes to Facebook. It is gobbling up competitors and making the whole world its consumer. By constantly innovating, it’s ensured that no one will come even remotely close to it.
Success makes us comfortable. No matter how impressive, we cannot rest on past laurels. The key is to identify when a successful idea has reached its full potential and is ready to be discarded or reinvented or rejuvenated. Leaders who reinvent themselves are the ones who reinvent their companies too. IBM was famous for its big mainframe computing systems. Today, the company has a large services component, responsible for its growth and profitability.
The decade started with the burst of the dot-com bubble in the year 2000. Thousands and thousands lost all their money, hundreds of companies closed down. Then in 2004, Tim O’Reilly and John Batelle held the first Web 2.0 conference and shocased to the world the immense benefits of “the web as a platform.” This resulted in a plethora of social media sites being created, which changed our world forever. The internet was reinvented and rejuvenated. Like never before. Today, it’s the internet & the social networking sites that are turning our world around.
Failures are a part of life and the strong reinvent and take failures in their stride. However, the players who leave the maximum impact are the ones who don’t take success for granted. They genuinely believe that it is only constant change that will give them sustained success.
It’s time to reinvent as the New Year approaches. It’s time to think deep, to really feel the urge to live your life. So, all that you have wanted to do but never did – go ahead, do it! Start with yourself; give up one bad habit. Stop smoking, give up on junk food, eat less and reinvent yourself. You deserve it. As you start reinventing yourself, you will not hesitate to reinvent your team, your leadership style, your marketing campaign and your brand.
Let’s end the New Year in truly believing in the power of reinvention, for that will help us to keep our New Year resolutions.