Before you take a well-deserved break and deep breath before dashing into 2023, answer this question wrapped in an analogy: As you complete 2023, does your company look like:
- A premium channel (HBOMax, Netflix, Disney+…)
- A network channel (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox…)
- TNT (reruns and great sports if you live in Atlanta)
- All the above
This question popped into my head during my Quicktake conversation this week with James Dorn, President of The Dorn Group, as we explored themes and drivers to keep in mind for planning a successful 2023. You can listen to our discussion using the player above.
Many of us the past few years may have spent a bit more time with a remote control in hand; it’s never been easier to channel surf! Same for customers. Thanks to digital platforms, they have more channel options than ever before to research, select and source. There are more fragmented niche selling platforms – including marketplaces – than ever before (remember the days when there were four broadcast channels plus a smattering of local ones thrown in?).
There’s also a byproduct of all this: a lot more noise and mediocre product and service offerings out there that distributors have to compete with to keep a customer’s attention. This topic of customer focus is not new; it’s been scaling rapidly since 2020. As we discuss, any strategic plan for 2023 has to build on this customer self-serve mindset and their power of selection – how does your sales team have to change to stay at the top of the list?
Given that foundation, the next logical work is to focus your 2023 resources on the best customers and the best suppliers that will help you grow through this part of the business cycle. To be clear, this is not just a distributor challenge, even though I think the service orientation of distributors in the channel make it harder for them to say no. At this point in the pandemic and current economic conditions, every business is jittery about not chasing every dollar out there in case winter is a tough one.
The third point we address in our conversation is this need to partner with suppliers in new ways. It requires some hard choices on who to partner with and build enough trust to be more innovative and competitive to take what the market will give this next year. That requires a reset and probably difficult conversations on the risk-reward balance with key suppliers.
To loop back to my original question using tv/digital content platforms as an analogy: Unless you are Jeff Bezos, the “all of the above” answer is the wrong one. There is no right answer; each of the different platforms has a unique go-to-market strategy serving specific niches. But I would argue that the streamers (answer a) are in the most sustainable and profitable position. They offer a highly differentiated product to a customer segment willing to pay a premium; the challenge is to innovate their value proposition each and every year to retain those subscribers with twitchy fingers on that remote. Sound familiar?
Listen to the full QuickTake Podcast from the audio player above, and check out our full library of MDM Podcasts here.