So much of modern business is about being able to adapt, to know what’s coming and be able to harness it for your own success. Every once in awhile you’ll read an article, watch a video or hear a talk where a charismatic person with shiny teeth will tell you “the truth”. It tends to involve a phrase like: “Forget everything you think you know about business”, and ends with them exhorting you to change everything about your company.
In fairness, they have the basis of a point. Business success does depend on the ability to change and diversify, but basing an entire strategy on a vision of the future might not be the best way to go. The truth is that a lot of people think they can predict the way the world will change, only to end up looking like fools. Words like Betamax, DeLorean and others are proof that, as flashy and perfect as something might seem, it means nothing if public opinion doesn’t swing behind it.
So what does this mean for your business? It means that you should by all means keep an eye out for innovations, but as long as something still works, don’t consign it to history.
Publicity: Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broke
Acres of newsprint are given over to the importance in the modern era of guerilla and viral marketing. Make a video that’s hilarious or innovative enough to be shared 10,000 times on YouTube, and you’ll be an overnight sensation. Get your logo on a news broadcast, and you’ll be made for life; so goes the received wisdom – but is it correct?
Going viral works for some, but it’s usually accidental and a cynical online community can spot someone who’s trying too hard for an image boost. The truth is that filming an informational video and using direct response services to get it out there still works more reliably. If you want your business logo in the papers, take out a print ad. You don’t need to risk it being digitized out by an editor.
Hiring: Head Off The Headhunters
You’ll see it most of all in professional sports, but it’s made its way into business too. The idea that to be the best it’s not enough just to strengthen your own hand – you need to weaken the competition too. That may work if you, too, have a recruitment budget in the tens or hundreds of millions. For most small and medium businesses, though, hiring a headhunter is more expense and hassle than it’s worth.
Promoting from within is more likely to get you the right person for the job. Think about it; you have a daily audition on which to judge leadership skills, crisis management, empathy and camaraderie. When a vacancy opens up, you may want to advertise it externally or tap up the competition – but looking within for someone who may know the role already, and definitely knows the business, is a better guarantor of success and loyalty.
Sometimes, in business, the old ways are the ones that will still work. It’s worth experimenting with new techniques, but don’t be tempted to try something just for the sake of it. Look for proven results and remember, if a technique has been around for a long time, there’s probably a reason it endured.