An age-old chestnut in business centers on the railroads during the rise of the automobile: Even as roads, cars, and 18-wheelers undercut rail's dominance of the transportation industry, railroad executives comforted themselves by claiming dominance of the trains business. Goodyear, Ford, Mack these new companies weren't competitors. Instead, they were a new industry, similar perhaps, but heck, none of them made trains.Had the barons of rail seen themselves in the transportation industry, rather than the train industry, the great rail companies of the 19th century would still be household names. (Quick, can you name one now? Yeah, me either)
So what does this have to do with your business? Well, we're in the midst of a similar shift, but with a major twist. Today, I'll assert, no matter what business you think you're in be it making widgets or providing a service, you're now in the media business, plain and simple. Those that recognize this shift will succeed, those that ignore it will atrophy and eventually become irrelevant.
Now, what do I mean by the media business? Well, let's start where all good businesses start: with the customer. Your customer's media habits have changed dramatically in the past ten years. More likely than not, your customers spend nearly 15 hours a week online it's where they play, communicate, interact with services, and shop and research major purchases. In short, your customer has developed a major new media habit. The question is: Has your business?
Sure, you have a website. And perhaps, you've engaged in some search engine marketing, online yellow pages listings, perhaps even some banner ads. Perhaps these campaigns have worked for you, or perhaps they've seemed like a waste of time - too much work for the return.But maybe the problem isn't the channels you're using for marketing. Perhaps, instead, it's the approach you are taking to the market. What might happen if you reframe your go to market thinking from that of a small- to medium-sized business to one of a media producer? What might happen then?
I'm not suggesting that you sell your business and get into journalism or entertainment, of course. But the point is this: your customers are ten or more years into the habit of interacting with the Web. They've grown sophisticated, and they are more than willing to conduct their banking, purchase their movie tickets, even buy life insurance online. To do so, they are increasingly interacting with sites that understand who they are from smart search engines like Google to one-stop shopping services like Amazon and eBay. These sites are setting the standard for interaction on the increasingly sophisticated medium that is the web.
Does your site measure up? The web provides a mediated experience between your business and your customer. If your offering on the web is satisfying your customer's needs (even those your customers don't know they had), it's time to consider a major investment in the web media business. The Web already is - or will soon become - your most important customer satisfaction and service (and perhaps even sales) channel. You may be in the making widgets business now, but no matter what you do next, you're going to be in the media business. All aboard!
In my next post, I'll go into some basic tenets of media, and drill down on two concepts: Search as the driver of customer intent, and your site as the platform for joining the Conversation Economy.