Is our culture of excuses preventing businesses and organizations from thriving? Everywhere I go people tell me how the economy is keeping business from doing well and nonprofit leaders crying about how the economy is limiting their abilities. It is quit shocking to me that these same leaders are using the economy as their “excuse.” While no one can deny that the economy has caused challenges… the real culprits are Change, Choice and Complexity. These three components, in aggregate, are responsible for a paradigm shift in US attitudes and behaviors. This phenomenon can be overcome if you accept that, whatever got you where YOU are today won’t take you to where YOU want to be in the future. It might be helpful to understand how this happened.
CHANGE is what we’ve lived through during the past 10 years, or as Time Magazine put it, “The decade from hell:”
- The 9/11 Terrorist Attack
- A War in Iraq
- A War in Afghanistan
- An Economic Crisis/Recession
- A Banking Crisis
- A Mortgage Crisis
- A Housing Crisis
- An Unemployment Crisis
- An Energy Policy Crisis
- A Conflicting Environmental Policy Crisis
- A Generational Attitude Crisis in the Workplace… with four competing generations
- A Technology Explosion (including use of the Internet)
- The rise and use of Social Media
Ask yourself, are you the same person you were a year ago? If not, then how have you changed and how have others changed? How has your business or organization changed, to stay current? What got you where you are today won’t take you where you want to be in the future.
On top of all of this change, is CHOICE. To put it bluntly, we’re drowning in it… literally a sea of choice! As Sheena Iyengar states in her book, The Art of Choosing, “in 1994 there were 500,000 different consumer goods for sale in the United States. Today, there are more than 24 million.”
Have you shopped for Crest Toothpaste, lately? Finding the basic “regular” toothpaste or your personal brand preference can be very frustrating. You’ll have to sort through more than 33 variations; and those are just the adult choices!
The problem with so much choice is not limited to variety and price, there is another dimension… the immense growth in the number of businesses that market and distribute the choices available. According toEntrepreneur Magazine, the number of businesses has increased more than 31%, from 22.6 million in 2003 to more than 29.6 million in 2009.
COMPLEXITY has become a by-product of change and choice in that, relationships between customers and providers have grown more complex. Advances in technology have further exacerbated the complexity of relationships. As a further by-product, many new purchase channel options have become available, including increased usage of the Internet.
Take video rentals as one example. Just three years ago you had only one choice to rent a video…drive to the local video rental store. Today, there are five or more unique choices. It’s problematic and more difficult for businesses as well who are faced with managing the new distribution channels to keep up with consumer preferences.
This phenomenon can be tough to overcome, but can be done by:
- Sharpening your message
- Using “pull” vs. “push” marketing and sales strategies
- Providing outstanding customer experiences
- Combine the passion of intuition with the rigor of evidence.
Read about what progressive organizations are doing to overcome the challenging economy in the new bookGetting the Fish to Swim to YOU & Keeping Them in YOUR Boat… by Alan Adler. Inside are 160 strategies from documented case studies and 80 practices to avoid or stop that are working to attract and keep customers today and in the future. Follow Alan’s weekly blogs at www.gettingthefishtoswimtoyou.com.
Improving effectiveness is a matter of CHOICE!
Alan Adler is an award winning national marketing consultant, speaker, author, columnist and CRM pioneer. His new book Getting the Fish to Swim to YOU & Keeping Them in YOUR Boat: Marketing Wisdom to Attract & Retain Customers, is available at: www.gettingthefishtoswimtoyou.com.