For all of my interviews with an author, I usually write a short intro that introduces the person to my readers.
Since Jeremy Miller is all about action, before we begin the interview, let me just say three quick things:
a. Jeremy is an inspiring person and the president of Sticky Branding, a brand-building agency;
b. His ideas are actionable;
c. His new book reminds us that the most effective branding actions are within the reach of everyone.
Jenan: Jeremy, through hard work and a pinch of luck, some people manage to develop a mind that gravitates toward things that are new and progressive. Or, to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, they tend to go where the puck is going to be. You strike me as such a person. What is one idea that you think is not on business leaders’ radars right now that should be?
Jeremy: Compression. Your business is being compressed. Your brand is being compressed. Your strategy is being compressed. And this can be summed up very clearly, “What made you successful won’t make you successful.”
The issue of compression is relatively new, and it is being accelerated by the rapid advancements in communications: high speed Internet, mobile technologies, digital communications, and social media. These tools are all having a profound impact on the way we connect with one another and the way we do business.
As amazing as these technological advancements are, they come at a cost:
1. Lower Barriers to Entry: The barriers to entry are falling in every industry. It has never been easier to start a business, and many industries are fracturing. I saw this in the recruiting industry with my family business. In the nineties professional staffing agencies — recruiters that specialized in finding and placing full time employees — had revenues over $10 million on average. Today, the average size of these firms is less than five employees with sales under $500,000.
2. Rapid Commoditization: Great ideas are copied in no time. We all have access to enormous amounts of information. We can all see what our competitors are doing in real time. And we all respond extremely quickly.
3. Declining Customer Loyalty: Customers have an inordinate amount of choice, and the means to discover their options. One of the key advantages of search engines is you can find anything, and that’s exactly what people are doing. If they’re not satisfied with their options they can easily find something else. And even if they aren’t dissatisfied, the volume of choice enables them to explore more products and services and be less loyal to any one brand.
These three forces are having a profound impact on business leaders and their approach to grow successful, profitable companies. And this can be seen in branding. A brand used to be pretty static. A company could “set it and forget it.” Companies could operate for ten to twenty years without making many significant changes to their value proposition, positioning, or approach to marketing. That’s not the case anymore.
Branding has shifted from a feel-good marketing activity to an essential part of business strategy. The influence of compression means organizations are being forced to rethink, reimagine, and reposition themselves far more frequently — every three to seven years on average. This is a completely new skill set for business leaders. It’s no longer a question of creating a great product at a great price. They’ve got to keep monitoring their marketplace, spotting trends, seeing shifts in buyer behavior, and responding rapidly.
The most effective organizations today are continually reinventing themselves. It’s part of their DNA. They know what made them successful won’t make them successful and they are always challenging, “What’s next?”
Jenan: Thank you for your time, Jeremy — all the best until next time!
May 12 2015