We are regularly posting about the dangers of relying on a single resources (Facebook, SEO etc) for your marketing. But there is a brainstorming game doing the rounds at the moment – “What if elements of your business model became illegal”. That made me think about this subject again.
The aim of the game is to think about how to develop your model in a rapidly changing environment. Whilst this may be extreme, The idea of asking “What if something changed and had a significant impact on my business?” is sound. And it’s not just about things being shut down or made illegal, its about recognising that businesses need to evolve to survive.
Look at the recent Thomas Cook collapse. This was blamed in part on their inability to recognise that their marketplace was changing. People had many more options, and booking a traditional package holiday was becoming less attractive.
But lets focus on Marketing
Lots of people rely on Facebook for marketing, or on Ebay and Amazon for e-commerce. Its unlikely that these will shut down overnight, but their environment is constantly shifting.
Much marketing measurement is focused on engagement, and often the level of likes and shares is one driver for others amplifying your message, but there is now a move to remove this metric. Facebook have already trailed this on Instagram and are now considering rolling it out to the main Facebook platform.
If Facebook (or any other social media platform) no longer published Likes & Shares Metrics how would this affect the way you encourage people to share your marketing messages?
Amazon recently changed its strategy in relation to First Party Sellers. The shift meant that many sellers who where First Party Sellers were notified that they were being shifted to Third Party Seller status, and would no longer receive wholsale orders from Amazon.
Whilst this would not mean loosing access to Amazon as a Channel, it could potentially have an impact on your ability to handle demand, and the way you relate to and fulfil customer orders.
The fact is that as a marketer you have no control over decisions made by these platforms. On this basis, considering what you might do if the ground shifts is not a bad idea.
Ask What if… when the pressure is off
It can also, strangely, be quite fun to think about these things when the pressure is off, and potentially make life much less stressful when things come out of left field to affect your business:
So what sort of questions could I be asking? “What if….:
- I could no longer Market on Facebook?
- My Google ad bids increased by 50%
- I could no longer send marketing emails to my current list (This one basically became a reality for many consumer focusing businesses on 25th May last year with the implementation of the GDPR regulations)
- Delivery costs doubled – would I still be competitive
- Google changed its algorithms and all my search listing disappeared
The aim is to look at your business model, and think what could have a serious impact on this, and what you would do in response.
All the examples I have used above are overnight changes. However more likely is that things will change gradually. This can be even more dangerous, as you may not notice the changes until its too late!
Maybe if Thomas Cook had done this 10 years ago asking the question “What if the internet changes the way people buy holidays?” we would not have the CAA needing to repatriate 150,000 British holiday makers!
Another name for this process is Scenario Planning. A tool used by big organisations to model and build strategic plans for the future. But even in smaller businesses, the tool can be a useful part of the long term planning process.