At the recent Future Market Leaders conference, two thoughts stuck with me.
Firstly, I wondered how the audience of agency folk would differ if the conference organisers had decided to shorten the conference name to become the FML Conference, and came to the conclusion that in fact we’d all probably still have turned up in the hope for some catharsism and mutual hug-it-out time. But anyway.
The main thing that stuck with me was something mentioned by Sara Holt from the BBC, who with reference to media businesses stated that in the business world today, you’re either a start-up, or a turnaround.
Smart, and true. And not just for media, for a whole clutch of businesses across all sectors.
Barriers to entry into disruptable markets tend to be low. Fresh thinking, low overheads, agile methods, can lead to huge growth in market share, and turning a category on its head.
And this is happening everywhere.
Hospitality. Drinks. Banking. Insurance. Money Exchange. Media. Loans. Software. Travel….big players that are used to having it all their own way are having to find ways of steering their businesses through choppy waters, faced with leaner, nimbler competitors unburdened by legacy-systems and this-is-how-its-always-been-done-rs.
Big businesses can’t become start-ups. It doesn’t work like that.
But they can begin to adapt the mindset of a new entrant into the market, which involves asking the naive questions that only a newbie would ask, idiot questions if you will:
• What could we do that everyone else says we can’t?
• Why is our process like this?
• What can we build from scratch? What can we kill?
• Where is our size and heritage advantageous and where is it a hindrance?
• How should we be communicating now?
• How do we deal with problems (hello TalkTalk) properly?
• How do we give these new upstarts a proper clip round the ear….?
Our agency is full of clients both big and small, looking to either grow their new brand, or reinvigorate their established ones. And whilst they’re often wildly different businesses in terms of size and shape, the successful ones know the right idiot questions to be asking themselves.