Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Destroy Your Industry?

Seth Godin posts today about Singer and how they’ve been through a cycle, going from very prominent to not so prominent, and how this is simply a fact of life. Businesses have their season, and then the bloom is off the rose, so to speak, and the cycle completed (or moved on, at any rate).

Seth’s big point is that during Singer’s boom-time, cycles were decades long and outlasted the careers of most managers, so they could not (or did not have to) address the situation before retirement. Cycles are much faster now, even annual in some cases. He says that the best marketing strategy is to “destroy your industry before your competition does.”

What does this mean?

Does it refer to the shelf-life of markets? How is that any different from industries? (Industry = “the people or companies engaged in a particular kind of commercial enterprise”) (Market = “the customers for a particular product or service”) An industry is tied to a market – you have demographic markets, geographic markets, industrial markets – but you could re-orient yourself towards a new and different market, and re-orienting could involve getting the word out there in new and different ways (marketing), or tweaking the product (I guess you could tweak it for the same market).

If an industry is comprised of the players engaged in a particular kind of commercial enterprise, then enough tweaking would eventually change the particulars, and so the old industry is destroyed and a new one rises from its ashes. I think Seth is saying that we should tweak, innovate, iterate, hack, whatever, our industry constantly, even if it becomes something different, because everything is in constant flux, and the market won’t hold still anyway, so innovate faster than your competition and you might be fortunate enough to help steer the market, particularly if your innovations are somehow tracking the market.

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