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Truism: knowing when to adapt

illustration of a lightbulb
Illustration by Sarah Kula Marketing Designer

“One of the most important ways that a company can provide value for employees and customers is to eliminate friction, eliminate hassle, and provide paths to them achieving their goals that are as intuitive, simple, and enjoyable as possible.”

Though the importance of these methods cannot be overstated, companies often have internal conflicts or motivations that can manifest themselves as challenges, and may not just deter customers, but employees as well.

Our CEO, Russ Starke, regularly publishes videos for a series entitled Truisms. These are quick yet informative lessons for leaders and practitioners across various industries. In this Truism, Russ delivers some hard truths on how brand recognition and loyalty don’t guarantee your company’s success. Rather, the ability to adapt to customers’ needs is what’s crucial. We’ve written an overview that you can read below, or if you’d prefer to listen or watch, click here for the video.

What’s core and known may not always work

Just because something is integral to your company’s business model does not guarantee its continued success. Similarly, brand recognition also doesn’t solidify a company’s success. Markets change, as does society. With that comes new ideas and opinions, and on the business side of things, an opportunity to reevaluate current strategies. When markets shift and industry trends change, it’s crucial to evaluate your company’s positioning and strategies to determine what may work best going forward. If you’re holding your ground on old, outdated tactics and policies just because that’s how it’s always been done, you’re only hurting yourself. Why? Because customers and employees don’t want to hear justifications for points of contention—they want solutions.

Think back on video rental companies that dominated the 1980s through the 2000s. From West Coast Video to Blockbuster, one thing they all had in common was instituting a late fee policy. Though the policy details varied from company to company, customers would express their discontent. However, late fees were highly profitable for these companies and were used to justify their existence. As a result, customers would have to accept this practice that had become so core to how these video rental companies operated—until we saw new competitors enter the industry and things started to change in the video rental space.

When competitors emerge, markets can change

Enter Netflix. Though their method of delivering rented movies straight to your door was definitely a favorable feature, the one that arguably stood out the most was: no late fees. Instead of relying on late fees, Netflix adopted a subscription model that would cost customers less in comparison to competitors, who not only had late fees but also didn’t deliver.

Giants in the industry like Blockbuster didn’t budge initially. Late fees had proven themselves to be a “successful” business model, and they had brand recognition. Ultimately brand recognition didn’t prove to mean anything because even though Netflix was new to the industry, they offered something valuable to customers that addressed pain points. They became the preferred alternative because they stepped outside the norm. Customers realized that late fees didn’t have to be a standard, so they took their money with them. By the time Blockbuster had eliminated their late fee policy, it was too late. Not only did Netflix overtake Blockbuster’s market share, they had completely dominated the industry.

The need to adapt

“If there’s a pain point your customers are experiencing, someone is out there trying to solve [it].” 

The hard truth is that eventually, someone will solve it and offer your customers a better solution. You don’t want your company to lag behind and risk the loss of customers and employees as a result. Whether you’re the first to shake up the market or not, it’s crucial to your company’s survival that you embrace new and emerging industry trends that are proving to be a success sooner rather than later. 

Think of how remote work has grown exponentially in popularity as a result of the pandemic. With some offices requiring their workers to be back in the office a few days of the week or even for the full work week, many employees are looking elsewhere. What’s worked in the past may not always work, and that’s something we’ve experienced time after time.

We can’t rely too heavily on how things have always been done—that can change overnight—we have to be willing to adapt. The ability to do so not only better positions your company in the industry, but also shows your customers and employees that you care enough to take the initiative.

To hear more from our CEO, Russ Starke, head to our YouTube channel and watch the video.

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