I am a voracious reader- books, magazines, newspapers, you name it. And I am a traditionalist when it comes to the printed word. I like the feel of a book, the crispness of a morning paper at breakfast and getting lost browsing in a bookstore.
But Jeff Bezos is showing the world that bold ideas that create a better customer experience trump traditional business models. The Amazon Kindle e-reader is a vivid example of a “disruptive technology.” It’s become a “game changer” innovation that has transformed the way books are published, distributed, sold and consumed.
Since the Kindle was first released in 2007:
- Consumer buying- and reading habits have been dramatically changed because of the instant, at-your-fingertips convenience
- Millions of Kindle devices are sold every month, and digital books are on pace to outsell physical paper books
- the Borders bookstore chain has gone out of business
- The Kindle didn’t just change a market, it’s creating a brand new one by welcoming self-published authors to sell their own e-books and let the customer decide. Independent authors like Amanda Hocking, J.A. Konrath and John Locke are at the top of Amazon’s Kindle best-seller lists. They are selling hundreds of thousands of e-books and earning six- and seven-figure incomes, often outselling the “big name” authors on the Kindle Best Seller lists.
The Kindle lesson is a reminder why a marketer’s sense of imagination is such a vital skill.
Five or ten years ago, book publishers, distributors, retailers and printers could not imagine a world in which consumers would prefer a digital book over the traditional paper book. That lack of imagination can leave a company unprepared.
Adopting an Innovative Mindset
What does all of these mean for marketers? What lessons can we learn?
- A status-quo approach is a recipe for stagnation. You cannot succeed in the long-term if your sole focus is protecting your market share. You have to push your company into the future and be prepared to experiment, change and even fail on occasion.
- Disruptive technology does not destroy markets. It levels the playing field and grows the market by providing customers with things that matter most to them, like convenience, accessibility, greater performance and choice. It only disrupts complacent thinking.
- Customers are not complacent. If your company has a complacent mindset that takes its customers for granted, chances are they won’t be your customers for long.
- The most successful companies and the most effective marketers are not just focused on tomorrow, they’re thinking about how they can best serve their customers five years from now.
If your organization is going to capitalize on game-changing technologies and grow your business, you can’t stand idly on the sidelines. You’ve got to get into the game.
Takeaway for marketers:
It is inevitable- technology and innovation will transform every industry. Marketers need to be the visionary “eyes and ears” of their organization so it can quickly adapt and adopt to change. Companies that fail to imagine these possibilities will be especially vulnerable.