Sticky: How To Avoid Becoming Roadkill

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

“To cast your business plan in stone is drinking your own Kool-Aid,” Ken Goldberg, CEO of Real Digital Media, told delegates at The DailyDOOH Investor Conference in New York last week, reminding them of the source of that saying and its unfortunate result.

Real Digital Media's Ken Goldberg

Real Digital Media’s Ken Goldberg

“A business plan is effectively a snapshot of founders’ thinking at a particular point in time. It usually includes projections for targeted markets and company revenue growth,” said Goldberg. “But things change over time. Products and markets evolve, and business models must as well.”

Detailing other ingredients of what he called ‘Business Kool Aid’, Goldberg noted how static market views impact company culture and impede performance. He noted that some companies decide to pay researchers to provide their perspective, which often results in a skewed market view, as researchers often have limited access to insightful data. Copycatting competitors based upon perceived success or puffy press releases, “amounts to drinking some else’s Kool Aid, “ he said, “Copycats by definition lose first mover advantage, and because those strategies are often reactive they suffer from execution issues.”

Goldberg said that it is generally accepted as conventional wisdom that digital signage is technology-driven but in fact it is really technology-enabled. The nuanced meaning of enablement is that technology is a factor in the business, but it is not transcendent.

Debunking other conventional wisdom, Goldberg made the case that innovation isn’t really product based, but rather based on business models. “Software features and functions, display improvements and hardware cost engineering are natural evolution, not necessarily innovation. Winners in this space will be those that innovate with business models.”

For businesses to avoid becoming ‘roadkill’, he recommended:

  • Revisit your business plan every six months or every year, taking a critical look at old assumptions and make adjustments;
  • Review the market, trends and events daily. Separate hype from reality;
  • Re-engage with your customers. Understand what they really think;
  • Reject conventional wisdom;
  • Reinvent your company and yourself.

Those that adapt and evolve are most likely to emerge as winners in any marketplace, but especially in the rapidly changing out-of-home space. Goldberg related how hockey star Wayne Gretzky adapted to his unique skill set and in the process evolved the entire sport. “Perhaps Gretzky’s greatest skill was his ability to know where the puck was going rather than reacting to where it was,” said Goldberg. “He started the trend of playing behind the net to give him more options and avoid the pounding one takes in front of the net, it was amazing to watch.”

After detailing industry examples of ‘adapters’ and ‘Kool Aid drinkers’, Goldberg suggested that the future would belong to the nimble organizations and those that innovate with business models.

He closed by prompting the audience to take a page from Gretzky’s book, “Find the spot for your business behind the metaphorical net, increase your options, and take less pounding. Skate to where the puck is going for your business, not toward the pack. The pack will take the edge off with Kool Aid, but you’ll likely be drinking champagne.”

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