We’re told to hyper-focus on our core customers. After all, doesn’t most of our profit come from a small group of loyalists and “heavy-users”?
We’re admonished to double-down on our highest ROI marketing strategies. Surely if a moderate amount of email or direct mail or re-targeting is working, more must be even better, right?
Lather, rinse and repeat.
And this all makes a lot of sense. Until it doesn’t.
The past few years have brought us dozens, if not hundreds, of brands that have gone away–think Blockbuster, Borders and, very shortly, Radio Shack–largely through adhering to these notions. Still others sit on the brink of irrelevance–I’m looking at you Sears and Blackberry–because they pushed a singular way of thinking well past its expiration date and, sadly, the point of no return.
Even far stronger and far better managed brands fall into the trap of overplaying their hands. Neiman Marcus (my former employer)–along with many other luxury brands–have had to re-work their strategies because they became overly reliant on a narrow set of highly profitable customers and failed to acquire and retain other important and emerging cohorts.
It’s all too easy to become distracted by peripheral issues or to stray into areas where we have few useful capabilities. We always must be mindful of where the customer gives us–or where we can readily earn–permission to go.
But in a world that is changing ever faster, and where new competitors can often launch highly disruptive business models in short order, what got us to where we are isn’t likely to get us to where we need to be.