Lamenting the speed of change has been en vogue since before I entered the business world.
That was back in the 1980ies.
Rapid change is a given. Disruptive change is a given.
What can you do to keep up, to avoid risk of extinction?
Here are 5 strategies any business, small or big, can use.
Future Proof Strategy #1
Keep up to date on major trends in your industry, in marketing, and in technology.
Those are the three areas that are most likely to affect your business.
Use [customized] Google news, blogs in your industry, marketing and business blogs to inform yourself what’s going on today and what’s on the horizon.
In your industry use conventions, books, magazines, and personal contacts to find out where the industry is headed.
Future Proof Strategy #2
Move early once a trend becomes clear that will affect your business.
We know things change, but at the same time we act as if they didn’t. You’ll sleep better if you proactively adjust your strategies to upcoming trends.
Think about SEO, as an example. For about a decade many businesses got all their profits from Google search. They fully relied on Google to send visitors to their site.
For about 5 years experts have told us that Google was changing – and not in the best interest of online business owners.
A proactive strategy would have been to build additional marketing channels, besides SEO. Many web site owners didn’t, and Panda and Penguin hit them like a brick, and destroyed their business.
Future Proof Strategy #3
Build marketing channels you control.
See the SEO example above. Don’t build your business relying on Google, Facebook, YouTube, EBay, Amazon, iTunes, or whatever.
Use those channels to add to your profits, but don’t depend on them 100%.
Many won’t like this and argue. Especially those who DO rely 100% on one of the mentioned sites.
But does it really feel right to put your business at someone else’s mercy?
Future Proof Strategy #4
Keep an eye on the underlying need that your products and services fulfill.
If you define your business through your product or service, an outside change can put you out-of-business.
Imagine you were a highly specialized consultant for Facebook advertising. All your positioning, all your writing is about Facebook advertising. Everything you know is about Facebook advertising.
- What would happen, if Facebook went the Myspace way?
- What would happen, if Facebook changed its business model to paid accounts and stopped advertising?
You’d be without a job! Your business would go from hero to zero in a day.
What’s the underlying need of Facebook Ads? Getting in touch with new potential customers.
What if your business, your marketing, your positioning were focused on that need? [Instead of being centered on Facebook.]
Facebook could go out of business, and you would just move your business to other marketing channels, while keeping your brand.
Future Proof Strategy #5
Innovate your products and services before there’s a need to innovate.
Even if your products sell like hot cakes, don’t rest on your laurels.
With the underlying need as starting point [see strategy #4], consistently improve your offers.
- How can you make existing offers better? Use customer feedback!
- What can you add to better fulfill the underlying need? [Go beyond customer feedback.]
- How can you alter your offer to meet trends that your competition is still ignoring?
Be a driver of change, not a victim.