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Exerpt from: How to Avoid Becoming Extinct

Thriving in the Instant Gratification Economy

Although we’re not watching any fewer movies or TV shows or listening to less music, we are increasingly consuming that content in virtually every manner except sitting in one place and “playing” a physical object on a fixed and immobile device. So the underlying issue isn’t decreased demand. It has a lot more to do with portability. The rise of mobile computing and the ubiquity of constant connectivity has put extra pressure on the old delivery systems and technologies, and the big box retailers haven’t done

The rise of mobile computing and the ubiquity of constant connectivity has put extra pressure on the old delivery systems and technologies, and the big box retailers haven’t done any more to address this transition than the booksellers have. In a world where everything wants to be streamed, Best Buy needs to think of its stores as digital gas stations and provide fast, cheap, and exclusive fill-ups on new music for their customers on the spot–in the store and online too. The music is the real message, not the medium of delivery. We don’t need shiny disks to share our sounds any more. Best Buy should also stick to selling things like fans and fridges, which won’t be going digital any time soon. Phones and headphones will probably sustain the company for a while, because these objects (of both necessity and desire) remain highly personal and tactile tokens in our lives. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself how reluctant you are to hand your phone to someone else.

instand gratificationRight now, we’re in the age of IG (instant gratification) and the immutable law of IWWIWWIWI(I want what I want when I want it). Every industry, even relatively new and fairly digital ones, will be changed significantly as we continue to move from the analog world to a world of digital everything. And new major businesses will be built in the cracks and the gaps created every time the big guys fall asleep at the switch.  Take gift cards, for example. Consider the very rapid rise of Raise, which runs an online, mobile-enabled exchange that sells partially used gift cards to consumers at a discount. And Raise doesn’t just sell you the cards while you’re sitting on the couch at home; it will sell you a Target gift card at a discount to the face amount of the card while you are standing in line getting ready to pay for your purchases at Target. Exactly what you need, when you need it, instantly.

As an entrepreneur, your job is to anticipate how these kinds of game-changing shifts will impact your business–because your business may be next in line. There are no simple answers, but there are a few things to watch for. The alternative is waiting until it’s too late, and then spending a lot of costly and painful time playing catch-up.

1. Actively manage your channels of distribution.

You need to constantly monitor and dynamically adjust your investments in each of the channels you are using to reach your customers in as close to real time as possible. And the more channels you effectively employ, the higher your likelihood of ultimate success, especially since the vast majority of digital distribution channels are relatively inexpensive to use.

2. Track the move from analog to digital.

You need to monitor the ongoing migration of the traditional products and services in your industry as they move from the analog and physical world into the new digital economy. Some of these products will survive the transition, some will morph into new offerings, and some will cease to exist, but managing the life cycles of all of them will be crucial to your success.

3. Look for new methods of distribution.

You need to watch for the emergence of new delivery channels and systems for both your own products and services and, more importantly, for the sale and delivery of competitive or substitute goods which may be better priced, more readily accessible, easier to use, or more easily incorporated into the ways in which your customers are now conducting their own businesses.

4. Pay close attention to your customers.

You need to watch for new consumer behaviors. These are probably the most difficult to anticipate, but they are also the most rapidly disruptive, because of the speed and ease with which massive numbers of consumers can migrate to new solutions with virtually no switching costs or training requirements.

The bottom line never really changes: the customer has a constantly increasing array of choices, a limited attention span, and a relatively fixed amount to spend on whatever you’re selling. The winners in the competition for those dollars will be the players who are most attentive to the customer’s changing desires and most immediately responsive to their demands.

In the end, notwithstanding the appeal and power of the long tail, it’s not a game of vast volume, it’s ultimately about the connection you build to your customers and the concrete value you deliver to them.


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