The advent of high speed Internet has not just changed our world socially. It has changed the very foundations of the business world, too. And the thing of it is that these two aspects of our lives have a lot entanglement between them. Our Net-driven social interaction revolution has driven media in revolutionary directions, and in turn that has impacted what businesses now must do to thrive.
While supply chain management is and always will be important, today’s Internet-driven business world means that no longer can there be a leading and successful business that is still placing most of its energy into coming up with a brand (in the traditional top-down way), putting together attention-grabbing advertising campaigns, and doing supply chain optimization that does not ultimately deliver additional value to consumers.
What consumers and clients want today can be called “more for more”. Not necessarily more financial expense to your business, but more effort, more energy, more creativity from your business. Oh, yes, and more sharing stuff for free, as well.
Transcending the Supply Chain Gang
So. While it’s a given that supply chain optimization and some form of branding are always going to be important to your business, every competent business today is doing those things — and to survive and thrive in this brave new world, you have to be better than competent, you have to be extraordinary.
Yours must be “the go-to place”, the “gotta have those guys” business.
What does this mean for you today?
- Get permission. You’ve likely heard of permission selling. A great way to think of this is to call it “ask, don’t tell” selling. You need to have someone’s permission to try to sell her something these days. Because people love to buy but they hate to get sold, and a well-trained class of professional salesmen in days gone by when there was less transparency in the market has wrecked the hard sell, the pressurized one-meeting-close sale, for people today.
- Build trust. Building trust is how you first get permission to try to sell someone something. This is where you give stuff away for free — rather like this blog post that you’re reading right now. Share some of what you know and you will build a following of grateful people who are willing to pay for the other stuff that you can show them.
- Be extraordinary. Business today has to go the way of the artist. How many novelists are there? How many guitar players? How many graphic artists? Every individual artist with a recognized name, who isn’t worried about how he’s going to put bread in his mouth next, is giving something into the world that only he can, or only his group can. Your business has to be able to do that today — and it’s got to be the substance and the style of what you really produce and deliver, not what only finds its way into your branding and advertising efforts. If you’re the best at doing the mass production zone thing, you’re not very good anymore.
- Leadership. To be extraordinary, your business has to be a leader. This isn’t managing. Managing just means making sure that the tried and true methodologies are being kept well oiled, and maybe finding less expensive ways of keeping them that way. Leaders have to make hard choices. They have to sometimes say unpopular or unpredicted things because those things happen to be the truth. They have to take risks. They embrace negative capability. Leaders don’t care what their customers want, because they want to give their customers better than what they think they want.
- Stories that spread like wildfire. Stories means stories. It doesn’t mean the most remarked on Superbowl commercials. You need to tell stories about your business and your vision. These stories have to be crafted well enough so that here and there one of them compels people to send it all around the globe, because people naturally love to share stories. Great poets don’t write jingles.
- The human touch. We’ve moved away from the desire for a mechanized, machine-delivered product. (Even as our machines have become the best that they’ve ever been.) You’ve got to have and show compassion for people now. And you have to have the cockiness, even the arrogance, to care immensely. Let’s call it having “the audacity of caring”.
It used to be in business that the dreamers and the misfits were the lonely ones. Now, they’re the only ones. The only ones who can thrive.
Karl Camm is an avid CMMS and database design enthusiast. Karl focuses on the Asset Management Services industry primarily in Australia, New Zealand and across the Asia Pacific