(This is the first article to debut under The Cookie Series, where we deconstruct past marketing trends, analyze the best practices, and help you develop a bulletproof marketing grip.)
One of the greatest marketing tips that I’ve ever heard didn’t come from Steve Jobs, Joe Girard, or Seth Godin. Often misquoted to Charles Darwin, the wisdom came much later after the biologist’s death in 1963 from a university professor, who said:
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
– Leon C. Megginson
This maxim rings true for life in general – if you can’t adapt to change, you will eventually succumb to stagnation. Change is also the supreme law in the marketing world, a storm that razes down the weak while rewarding the strong with sunshine after the debris settles.
Add milk to your marketing
The history book on marketing is full with examples of businesses who were quick to embrace change and thrive with it. Some started their business journey from the proverbial garages and found their place in Silicon Valley because they changed their tacks on time, while many others survived the transitions because they kept on diversifying their offerings.
These businesses mixed up their marketing efforts like milk in the cookie dough – more fluid in their marketing approach – molding themselves to fit any shape or variety that appealed to the buyers. Hewlett-Packard started out in 1939 as a small business that sold audio oscillators, and kept adding new range of products like voltmeters, oscilloscopes, calculators, printers, and eventually PCs in the later decades to establish itself as a leading technology company.Facebook is preparing to snatch YouTube’s monopoly in the video content sector, with already over 500 million people watching video on Facebook daily. Click To Tweet
Tupperware employed direct marketing and organized Tupperware parties to demonstrate the product usage because retail advertising didn’t yield satisfactory results for the company. Later, they pioneered multi-level marketing (MLM) strategy to further their outreach to their primary audience, i.e. the housewives.
In more recent times, If you follow Facebook’s marketing fashion, you will notice that it’s gearing itself to snatch YouTube’s monopoly in the video content sector. Already over 500 million people watch video on Facebook daily, nowhere close to YouTube’s 5 billion but the social media giant is working to steadily close that gap. Team Zuckerberg’s mantra is to “move fast with stable infrastructure.” Facebook assumes that a few years from now, people will use the platform mostly to share video content and it is already positioning itself for that future.Milk helps your marketing funnel become more free-flowing. Savvy marketers need a supple strategy to realize their marketing goals. Click To Tweet
This is yet another example of how visionary businesses prepare themselves to meet audience expectations and stay relevant to their demands.
Despite all the changes they went through, all the businesses mentioned above responded to their growth challenges more fluidly without compromising on their original mission, just like how milk in the cookie dough doesn’t lose its flavor in the process. Instead, they blended with the challenges to become more flexible to the market demand and more likable to the masses.Change is the supreme law in the marketing world, a storm that razes down the weak while rewarding the strong with sunshine after the debris settles. Click To Tweet
Kodak’s hundred-year itch
Not all businesses have the foresight to embrace change and use it to their advantage. Take a leaf out of history book and you will find that time has often pummelled even the mightiest players who couldn’t keep up with the changing times. Case in point, the glorious rise and fall of Kodak’s business empire.Kodak was the first company to invent digital cameras in 1975, but they shelved the product fearing it would hurt their film photography business. Click To Tweet
For as long as hundred years, Kodak dominated the photography industry as the invincible market leader. But the company became increasingly high-headed in its success in the last quarter of the 20th century. They were the first company to invent digital cameras in 1975, but they shelved the product fearing it would hurt their main bread and butter, i.e. their film photography business.
In 1984, they snubbed the chance to sponsor L.A. Olympics as the official photography partner, a lucrative lead generation opportunity that Fujifilm happily grabbed. When the Tokyo-based company started gaining more market share in the U.S., Kodak executives cried foul and dragged Fujifilm to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Kodak lost that round too when WTO made a “sweeping rejection of Kodak’s complaints.”
Most of all, Kodak falsely believed that customers would never move away from the then hip-and-happening film photography to digital cameras. But the emergence of easy-to-use, portable Sony digital cameras soon proved that assumption wrong and Kodak started reeling under the growing pressure of widespread adoption of digital cameras. By 2012, it was too late for the legendary company to purge itself from its mistakes; hence, it filed for bankruptcy the same year.
Despite a century-long success to its credit, the Kodak moment didn’t last too long when it came to being fit to fight its dominion. The company that pioneered and popularized consumer photography, that taught people to see the world through their 35mm lens, failed to foresee the potential benefits of digital photography and faded to obscurity because of its slow response to the changing environment.
Yahoo! and AOL suffered similar fates because they couldn’t renew the value of their products that were hugely popular with the masses. BlackBerry vanished from public consciousness when it refused to upgrade its strategy to match with the new demands. The company obsessed itself with marketing to the corporate domain while the demand was more lucrative on the consumer front. Also, BlackBerry hardware and software couldn’t advance themselves in a market where the role of a smartphone was growing more comprehensive, rather than just being a mere communication device.
Nokia gets an honorable mention in this list for replicating Kodak’s fall from grace. The Finnish company had a humble beginning as a pulp-and-paper company in 1865 and grew to become the biggest cell phone manufacturer. It was a household name around the world with more than 50% of the global market share up until 2007. But the company started trailing away because it failed to progress at the same speed as other players in the smartphone market, like Apple and Samsung.
Here’s another thoughtful piece of advice, coming from someone who is known less for his marketing chops and more for his one-inch punch:
When businesses resist new market norms – an emerging technology, disruption in supply and demand curves, or a sudden warp in customer perception – they often end up being sabotaged as short-lived fads. But if you are quick to adapt to these changes, your business will expand its potential and strike gold along the way.
Adjust your sail to match the wind
Without an ingredient like milk in the marketing mix, your business lacks the muscle to fight it out in the competition. Milk helps your marketing funnel become more free-flowing, more equipped to champion the lead generation game. Savvy marketers need a supple strategy to realize their marketing goals, similar to how the right amount of milk prepares the dough for baked goodness.
The biggest edge you can have in your marketing is to pace your business to the market’s tune. Of course, without digressing from your mission statement. On that note, I conclude this post with this thought-provoking quote that forward-thinking marketers should stand by:In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock. - Thomas Jefferson Click To Tweet
(Cover illustration and images by Karthikeyan Ganesh)