Tried and True or Something New?

Earlier this week, USA Today had an article on the record number of sequels coming to movie theaters in 2011.  Points were made that sequels are “safe” for studios because consumers have already shown an affection for the characters, themes and story lines.   There was also a caution that there are only so many lives to a story or characters and that the heavy emphasis on sequels  at the expense of developing future franchises will cost the industry in the years ahead.

This particular point made me think how true this is for business in general.  Right now, in tough ecomonic times, businesses are making the “safe” decision, leaning on what has worked for them in the past.  Sure, it’s important to ring the cash register today but it’s also critical that we continue to develop new products, new services and new team members.

As a professional speaker, I have to develop new material on an ongoing basis.  Without new material, the number of groups I could speak to would be limited and there would be no reason for organizations or companies to have me back to speak over and over again.  Writing this blog twice a week has kept me attuned to changes in the marketplace and has helped me refine examples I use when speaking on various business topics. 

Successful fashion stores such as Ann Taylor have styles which are their bread and butter.  They offer pants each season in current fabrics but with their  “fit” clearly on the label.  Women who know they wear “Signature”, “Modern” or “Curvy” can always find a “sequel” in a new color or fabric.  This allows the manufacturer to recoup more of the “R & D” costs and streamline the production process while giving the customer a “safe” purchase.  Then Ann Taylor sprinkles in new styles, colors and patterns throughout the store to enhance their consistent offerings.

This is a great model for every business.  Continue to give customers the items you are known for whether it’s a dish on your menu or pants on a rack.  At the same time, offer new products, new services, new ways to do business with you.  New offerings will keep your business “fresh” to customers and will continue to attract new customers to sustain your business over the long haul.

This same principle applies to your team of employees and vendors too.  Right now, you are likely relying heavily on those who have a proven track record with your business or industry.  That’s prudent, but you also need to continue to develop new resources, new suppliers and new team members to insure your business is able to respond to the marketplace not just today, but years into the future.

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