Evolution is here to stay

06/09/2011

Another thing that Amazon does really well that we can all learn from: they continue to evolve. As soon as people have Amazon figured out, they evolve.

Are they an online bookstore? Nope.

Are they a book recommendation engine? Nope.

Are they an online CD store? Nope.

Electronics, games, toys, online Wal-mart, outsourced e-commerce site, e-commerce web services, hosting services, fulfillment center, music downloads, videos, Kindles, ebooks … it’s a moving target.

The brilliant move to top all others: Amazon Prime. With Prime, Amazon delivers a customer loyalty program that continues to add additional benefits to subscribers and promote repeat business.

And! Their customers pay to be part of this program. The customers are paying to do future business with Amazon. Simply brilliant.

Please realize: I’m not suggesting that you need to be Amazon. I’m also not suggesting that Amazon hasn’t made some mis-steps along the way.

The point is that Amazon provides a model for success in the new Internet economy. There are three guiding principles behind Amazon that benefit us all. We’ll cover these next time.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!

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The customer calls the shots

06/06/2011

This is a fundamental, core principle of the Internet era: your customers call the shots.

Of course, they always have. It just has never been felt as strongly as it is today because customers have immediate access to your competitors. And there are unlimited forums in which to bring any bad experiences to light.

So: Amazon-ify your business.

Give them a reason to keep coming back.

Give them the ability to share information about your services, your products, your people, your principles.

Give them a place to be heard.

Give them what they want.

Give them what they don’t even know they want yet.

They won’t settle for less. Would you? Do you?

We all can choose at any time to do business with some one or some organization that makes it easier, more affordable, better, you name it for us. The Internet has made it easier than ever to make this choice and make the change.

So: Amazon-ify your business to give your customers what they want before they make this change.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Amazon-ification

06/03/2011

What can you do in this shifting, fast-moving economy? How do you give your customers what they want, when they want and how they want it? How do you protect and even grow your business in the new economy?

You need to Amazon-ify your business if you want to stay in business.

Maybe that statement’s too bold? Let’s take a different angle then.

If you don’t adapt to the new economy demands, you will slowly find your organization shrinking or, best case, stabilizing. Your customers will find ways and people to do business the way they want to.

Maybe you don’t sell retail and maybe you think this doesn’t apply to you? Don’t get lost in my usage of “Amazon-ify” and think that the concept doesn’t apply to you. I use the term to define the necessity to do more, better, faster with less. It applies to service firms, distributors, manufacturers, you name it.

Amazon-ification is all about giving your customers the experience that they want and (demand?!) and making it easy for them to come back for more.

Because the customers call the shots more than ever in the Internet era. We’ll explore this in our next installment.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Learning from successful companies

05/31/2011

The good news in the midst of all this upheaval is that the Internet establishes an amazing land of opportunity and there are some great companies out there showing how it’s done right.

Think about this: everyone – and I do mean everyone – wants the Amazon.com experience.

They want to place an order and conduct business with you when they want, how they want and they want it yesterday and they want to be able to customize it and track it and return it and they want you to remember their preferences for how they conduct business and their personal preferences.

And you better make sure that you and everyone in your organization can provide it the exact way that the customer wants it or you will hear about the bad experience through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc. etc.

And you can be sure your prospective customers and your otherwise satisfied customers will hear about bad experiences as well. The age-old truth still applies in the Internet economy: bad news travels fast.

Well … there’s fast and then there’s Internet fast. Today bad news travels around the world minutes after it happens. Think about it: a single disgruntled customer can be heard around the world in an instant.

I think we call agree: none of us can afford this. So, what can we do to protect against this?

It boils down to a concept that I call “Amazon-ification” and we will cover it our next outing.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Collateral damage in the Internet era

05/28/2011

A lot of folks have been and continue to be impacted by the rise of the Internet era.

It only takes a quick glance at the Wall Street Journal, your local paper’s business section or whatever source of business information you prefer to see it. Individual businesses, even entire industries are being decimated by this shift.

  • Magazine publishers
  • Newspaper publishers
  • Book publishers
  • Booksellers
  • Map makers
  • Software vendors
  • Advertising companies
  • Service firms
  • Distributors
  • Freight companies
  • Etc.
  • Etc.
  • The list goes on and on.

We are just at the start of the Internet Revolution so you can be sure that the list will grow in the coming years.

None of us are safe. No business or industry will be left unchanged from the pain caused by this shift.

If you aren’t feeling the pain yet, I admit that I’m slightly jealous.

I suppose it’s possible that you are in a rare industry that won’t be impacted by the Internet. Regardless, I hope you will benefit from staying tuned to the blog and learning new strategies to ensure that you stay a step ahead.

If, like the rest of us, you are starting to feel the pain, it’s not too late to change. As you continue reading this blog, I will do my best to share strategies and tactics to help you begin your transformation to an Internet era organization.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


A really no-brainer concept

05/25/2011

So – what’s the cause of all this upheaval? Sure, the Internet is enabling it but what’s the root source?

It’s a fairly basic concept: businesses need to do more with less.

Duh. It couldn’t be any simpler.

Anyone with a remedial understanding of how business works can understand that this is how the game is played.

This is always how the game has been played since the first customer bought the first good or service from the first vendor. Ever since that fateful transaction and the birth of capitalism, it’s been a scramble to do more with less.

And it’s not just “do more”. It’s do more, better, faster, smarter with less. Less time, less money, less people, less resources, less notice, less allowances, less mistakes … the list is endless.

That core business fundamental of do more with less has been sped up to dizzying levels.

The pace of change has been kicked into overdrive. What worked last year, last month, last week, yesterday isn’t good enough any longer. Again, you need to do more, better, faster, smarter with less time, money, people, resources, notice, allowances, mistakes …

To top it all off: your competition is a click away. And your customers know this. Ouch.

We’ll explore the impact of all of this in more detail in the next entry.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


The Internet Revolution

05/22/2011

(Kind of like The Matrix Revolutions but more meaningful…)

I think we can all agree: the Internet Revolution is here and the impact on businesses has been staggering. What the Industrial Revolution did for manufacturing goods, the Internet Revolution has done for information.

Information in all of its forms is now spread at unimaginable speeds. Ideas, strategies, product literature, methodologies, pricing information, discounting, confidential secrets, you name it – it’s all available with a browser and your search engine of choice.

This has proved to be a great leveler of business. In the closed-off, pre-Internet world a one in a million idea was unique. In this brave new world, there are a thousand other businesses that have the same idea.

So where does this leave us in these interesting times? What can we do to survive and even thrive in this new era?

I spend a lot of my time thinking about the answers to these questions in a general and, for my clients, specific ways. We’ll discuss some of this in the next article.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Squeezing inefficiencies out of the market

05/19/2011

To underscore the fact that the Internet is slowing squeezing out inefficiences (and with it – entire businesses and organizations), consider the following:

  • When’s the last time you used a map to find driving directions?
  • Or weren’t sure about a new restaurant because you didn’t know anyone who had eaten there already?
  • Or called that restaurant for their address?
  • Or visited a book store for anything except coffee?
  • Or bought a new book without a recommendation?
  • Or called a family member to see how they were doing?
  • Or used a travel agent to purchase tickets?
  • Or … again, the list is endless.

Flip it around. How many areas of your life can you think of that haven’t been impacted by the Internet? I would suspect that’s a short list.

It’s been an amazing shift in our world. And it happened in an extremely short period of time. We’ll discuss this a bit more in the next post.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


Rise of the Internet era

05/16/2011

As we discussed last time out, we are living in the future and it can be tough to navigate. It raises a whole bunch of questions that we must address in order to continue making a profitable living.

So how did we get here?

That question is easy to answer: we are living through the birth of the Internet Revolution. All of the promise of the Internet and the dot com era has come home to roost.

The initial rush and excitement of the Internet as a game changer built up expectations and stock valuations that eventually gave way to the collapse of the stock market and snide dismissals of the “dot bomb” era. While it’s true that many of those early Internet pioneer businesses are no longer around, the ramifications of the Internet are omnipresent and impossible to avoid.

I firmly believe that a lot of the economic pains that we are feeling in the world are because of the Internet. Business opportunities usually present themselves when inefficiencies exist in the market – the Internet is slowly and steadily squeezing these inefficiencies out of existence.

We’ll discuss that concept in the next entry.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!


The future is now

05/13/2011

Have you heard the old saying “may you live in interesting times”? This proverb appears as a blessing that doubles as a curse.

Interesting times equate to constant change and upheaval. The peace and tranquility of uninteresting times are long gone.

Without a doubt, we are living in interesting times. In fact, let’s face it: we live in a science fiction universe.

Sure, we don’t have flying cars or teleportation or ray guns (yet). But, even so, we live in an era of amazing advances with more coming each day.

You have instant access to any information that you need at any time you want it. Product literature, book and restaurant reviews, encyclopedias, vacation destinations, song lyrics, dictionaries, pricing on almost anything … the list goes on and on.

You can collaborate and share with co-workers, family and friends with a blink of an eye. Family photos, a new restaurant, advice requests, personal videos, funny cat photos … again, the list goes on and on.

You can connect and stay connected with like-minded individuals in the manner you choose and for as long as you choose. There are groups and social networking sites for every hobby, line of work, interest, you name it.

And each and every day there are new sources of information and means to connect: Email, instant messenger, Google, Yahoo, NetFlix, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SocialCast, Yammer, Yelp, Skype, smart phones, iPhones, Droids, tablets, iPads … it’s hard to keep up.

How to choose? Which one is best? And … will my choice be around tomorrow?  How do we know?

These are just some of the questions that plague us in this brave new world. We’ll continue these thoughts next time.

Thanks for reading – see you soon!