If Madonna, Kylie and Victoria can all reinvent themselves, so can you...
Seriously. You can do it. There's plenty of guidance in circulation about how you do it (though in a nutshell, all you need to do is to talk to your target audience and make sure you really know them and listen to them).
But the first thing to consider is why you might want to do it.
The answer to that is the reason why Madonna, Kylie, Victoria Beckham and countless others have done so. It keeps you real for your audience - whoever they may be. You remain in contention. More than that - you're the 'go-to'. Whether you're a business or a celebrity, if you're in it for the long term and you want to stick around, you're going to have to come to terms with the fact that evolution, maybe even reinvention, of yourself or your business approach is pretty much unavoidable. Customers and audiences change, discarding today's buying habits in favour of the next big sales method or platform. And these days, they change fast. Only a year or so ago, Facebook and Twitter were communication platforms - now they're increasingly highly effective sales and marketing media. Businesses carried paper business cards, ready to exchange them at any opportunity. Now everyone whips out their phones and "Links-In" with each other - 'with what's your @handle?' as common a question as 'what's your email address?'.
Customers are also fickle. With so many options internationally available with same day or overnight delivery options, keeping them loyal is challenging. We took a good look at this in one of our recent articles: http://news.elxtr.co.uk/post/102dajn/business-growth-and-keeping-customers-sticky-you-need-strong-glue
Merlie Calvert and I were chatting again about the adapt, move or die approach to modern business only this week - it's a topic close to home for us, having chosen 'adapt' and reinvented our own business only very recently ourselves. It was the attached Marketing Week article that re-triggered our conversation. The article showcases Ryanair and its reported aspiration to reinvent itself more in the image of Amazon and IKEA and to resemble a traditional airline far less. What struck us particularly was the statement by their CMO, Kenny Jacobs, that Ryanair is 'getting into the space where we're a travel retailer that just happens to specialise in flights'.
We seem to be surrounded by people using similar phraseology - in fact, we use it ourselves. We typically describe ourselves these days as aspiring to be more of a tech co. that provides a whole host of legal content and solutions, than a firm which simply gives legal advice (though of course, we do that too!). And we mean it. We've turned our whole business inside out and we're investing tons of time and effort into the retail-style technology that we want our customers to benefit from. Last week we met a brilliant insurance business who now describe themselves as a tech co. providing insurance solutions. And now Ryanair is an airline that doesn't want to call itself just an airline either.
The sceptics among us might sniff a bit and label it superficial 'marketing guff'. We disagree, however. Statements such as these generally evidence a firm commitment to being better than you are today, to being more relevant and giving more choices to customers, to harnessing the reality of today's consumer behaviour, where everything is driven by technology, from remote heating solutions to shopping, banking, communicating and fitness monitoring, and being there too. Why would you not keep pace with and evolve in the manner that your customers do? It could be the very real difference between being around and relevant for decades, (like Bowie or Madonna), or being a flash in the pan, like all those bands and so-called celebrities that we've now all forgotten about. Because let's face it, Jacobs is right: if you say it but you don't mean it, you might as well give up now.
Ultimately, Jacobs, who previously compared Ryanair’s turnaround to discounter Aldi, advises brands to focus on customer service ahead of marketing. He said too many try to change brand perception without actually making changes to their core offer. He advised: “There’s no airline brand in the world that has had the successful transformation we’ve had. “It is about changing the actual experience and then the brand perception follows. That is quite an important distinction in my mind. Lots of brands that go through a transformation, they’ll try to say ‘let’s really change the brand perception’ and hope the reality catches up; that’s the wrong way to do it.“