“Business Will Come Back When…

This post was written by John White on Thu, 11 Dec 2008 11:25:04 +0000
Posted Under: innovation,marketing manager,messaging

…we get some products that people want to buy.”

Oh. Yeah. Let’s work on that, shall we?

Charles Kettering, inventor of the electric car-starter, founder of Delco and head of GM’s research labs until 1947, made this observation in a Depression-era speech to a group of advertising executives. Later in the speech he said, “Research is simply to find out what you are going to do when you can’t keep on doing what you are doing now.”*

Consider the following:

  • Is it easier to buy a typewriter or a personal computer nowadays?
  • Someday there will be no more oil. Anywhere.
  • How do you feel about automakers needing a bailout?

Elsewhere in your building, product managers and engineers are sweating over what kind of products your company is going to build when it can no longer make money with the ones you’ve been selling up to now. The sand is shifting, so don’t wait to be surprised.

  • Figure out how to be a fly on the wall. I worked for a software company that had done data compression for 10 years. It chose to reinvent itself by acquiring a remote control software company. The employees who figured out about remote control soonest were the ones kept on.
  • Think about how you and your team are going to have to market differently – trade shows, publications, where/how you advertise. The company will probably exasperate you with its tergiversation, but don’t sit idle while the execs make up their mind – stick with them and keep coming up with new ideas.
  • Make sure your writers are up to it. What good is the best buggy-whip marketing writer going to do you when the horse is no longer the dominant means of transportation? Can they write Web content, or can they only think in terms of column-inches and 20th-century attention spans?

You need to be ready to do the marketing when the company comes up with products that people want to buy again.

(Thanks to John Katsaros’ Infrastructure 2.1 Newsletter for the idea this week.)

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