Trends and Predictions from the 2019 Internet Minute
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The pictures above are packed full of astonishing facts about how much of specific segments of the internet gets used in one minute globally. To think that there are 3.8 million search queries on Google and 1 million people logging on to Facebook EVERY MINUTE around the world is pretty crazy. To a business owner or decision maker of a large corporation, it is important to note the comparison between 2018 and 2019. These facts tell us that technology moves very fast, and if one does not keep up, they'll be left in the dust.

It is important for companies to make digital marketing decisions based off of recent internet data, since changes in trends can be so significant from year to year. If the company has a budget of $100,000 to use on marketing per month, where should they invest the bulk of their money? Clearly, the bulk should be dedicated to digital platforms. Where though, exactly, should a company market itself? Facebook, Youtube, and overall online spending all increased in the 2019 image. Instagram tripled in popularity while Snapchat diminished over 12% in use. New categories such as Smart Speakers rose from 67 shipped in one minute to 180 shipped in a minute in one year! Music streaming subscriptions was not even a relevant option in 2018 and in 2019 already there are 41 streaming subscriptions being purchased each minute.

The biggest category that I’d have my eye on if I was a corporate executive or marketing manager is Netflix. Knowing that cable is being slaughtered right now by Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, all of those viewers will soon need a new place to get their TV time in. With that comes the option for companies to be first movers at marketing in this category. Demographics of these platforms, though, do not want commercials and Netflix knows this. I predict that companies will be planting their products in much more of the hit shows and binge worthy programs. When something that is already popular like Netflix grows 300% in one year, it should warrant the attention of the biggest companies, and I believe we will see some interesting marketing tactics in the near future.

Strategy is not something that you set and then never come back to. The best firms question their strategy each year when new information and data accrues. If at the end of the questioning it is found that the strategy they are deploying is the correct one, then great! More often than not though, valuable resources can be reallocated to more profitable sectors of the market and can be more efficiently used. The best firms don’t stay at the top of the list by chance, there is a lot of data, research, strategy, and skill involved. The data above is not only incredibly interesting, but when looked at correctly it can be extremely valuable.

Attention Business Professionals: Get Outside Your Comfort Zone!

“As you become skilled in a task, it’s demand for energy diminishes. Studies of the brain have shown that the pattern of activity associated with an action changes as skill increases, with fewer brain regions involved.” Daniel Kahneman

The studies referenced in this quote explain why I believe an incredibly effective strategy in a particular firm involves getting the upper level executives uncomfortable. Most of the people in these types of positions haven’t been uncomfortable for years in any way. They are good at their job because they have acquired a certain skill, but they don’t need to work very hard. These upper level executives are obviously sharp business people, but we are doing ourselves and our company a disservice to not push their capabilities and get them out of their comfort zones. 

In my time as a high level CrossFit competitive athlete, my motto was always to become “comfortable being uncomfortable”. The most growth occurs when you are uncomfortable and have to adapt to an unfavorable situation and force your body and mind to grow in order to get out of the situation. This explains why professional powerlifters excruciatingly lift more weight than their body wants to while getting ready for a competition. This explains why kick-boxers practice kicking small trees in order to callous their shins to turn them into weapons so that when they step into the ring against an opponent, they will be dominant. 

This also explains why managers will work tirelessly outside of normal work hours in order to close huge accounts for their firm in order to move up the corporate ladder. The best, brightest, and most dedicated employees will make their way to the top and will separate themselves from the rest of the workforce. Eventually, they will become high level executives in the company and when they have seemingly “made it”, we reward them with a position of power, but almost simultaneously stifle their ongoing value for the company. When they have no need to get uncomfortable any more, not much growth can occur within them. This newly appointed executive has shown that he or she is one of the brightest in the company and that they can get results. We need to recognize the value of this person and recognize that it is our job to set our employees up for success in every way. 

By strategically encouraging this executive to get outside of his/her comfort zone regularly, or even better, by strategically PLACING this person in a situation where he/she must stretch themselves, you are setting this executive and your company up for success. The best companies recognize this and regularly make this common practice. 

It is my expertise to get to the underlying problem haunting a company. The way I enforce my expertise is through strategic questioning. The right questions lead to the real problem. Fixing the real problem leads to real success. Often times what I have found is that companies want to blame external forces when the true problem is an internal strategy that needs to be questioned and then needs to be changed. 

Successful Strategy

Good businesses have good products, good people, good marketing and a fair price. Great businesses have a powerful, unapologetic strategy that they adhere to and stick with in every decision that they make. Every new solution then needs to be questioned further, asking “Does this solution fit with our overall strategy?”. If the answer to that question is a “No”, then that solution is not the solution for this company. No matter what the data, expertise, or competition says - for your company to become great, it needs to completely sell out to its defined strategy.

What is the big deal with this whole “strategy” thing?

The strategy you choose for your company is the driving force to why you are doing what you are doing. This is important and gives your company its direction and focus. What is even more important though, is the positioning of your company in the mind of your customer.

People are happy to spend hundreds of dollars to go to Disneyland because it is the “happiest place on earth”. Six Flags Magic Mountain has better, faster, and more thrilling rides than Disneyland. Knott’s Berry Farm has many more attractions and has just as famous of a character in Snoopy as Disneyland has in Mickey Mouse. Why are people excited to give Disney as much money as they ask for? Because they are there to be consumed by the self-proclaimed “happiest place on earth”, not visit an amusement park.

People buy Coca-Cola because they associate “happiness” with drinking a coke with a friend.

People spend much more money buying a Nike shoe rather than a different brand sports shoe because they associate the Nike brand with excellence in sports. Both of these positioning strategies are self-imposed by the respective companies. Every ad they run, every product, and every decision they make enforces this strategy and they never contradict this for any reason.

Disneyland could charge less to get people in the door and thus increase their revenue by increasing customers, but this would create overcrowding and would decrease the user’s experience at the park which would lead to unhappiness. Their overall strategy is to deliver on their statement that Disneyland is the “happiest place on earth”.

Coca-Cola could give in to the market who says they want a healthier beverage with less sugar. This would temporarily increase the acceptance of their beverage, but it would take the focus off of the overall strategy. Coca-Cola promotes the fact that their product is associated with happiness. If you are having a tough day, or if you’d like to get together with a friend to celebrate, Coca-Cola is the beverage on one’s mind as it is the beverage to choose in order to be happy. When you can associate your brand with a special feeling like happiness or love, it can be very powerful.

Nike Inc.’s corporate mission is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” With this strategy in mind, Nike spends hundreds of millions of dollars sponsoring the top names in sports. With athletes such as Lebron James and Serena Williams, Nike position themselves as the brand that the highest level athletes wear, thus inspiring their customer to wear this brand. Providing new technologically sound athletic gear each year, is a strategy that costs Nike more than their competitors, but this level of excellence and superiority is expected by the Nike customer. The Nike customer is happy to pay more for this product instead of the competition because the customer associates Nike with excellence. Nike’s price enforces exclusivity which equates to value in the mind of the customer. Nike has positioned themselves as the premier brand in sports apparel and understands that everything they do needs to fit this brand identity strategy.

Bad businesses have zero strategy and they just go wherever the market makes them go. Good businesses have a strategy and follow it most of the time. Great businesses do not do anything unless it falls directly in line with their strategy. Understanding your strategy, and living by it, will ultimately lead to your success as a company and the true reward for a company is customer loyalty. A customer who comes back to buy your product is called a return customer. When a customer comes back time and time again to purchase from you, regardless of the competitor’s price or new technology, that is called customer loyalty. Let us all strive for customer loyalty this year by formulating the correct strategy for our company and by living it out in every decision we make.

Justin Pardee
Why You Need To Stop Focusing On Making A Better Product Than Your Competition

What constitutes better? Which product is better, a McLaren F1 sports car or a Toyota minivan? Which product is better, a Giorgio Armani suit or a pair of sweats? In the first example, if the customer’s goal is to go very fast or have a super flashy car, then the McLaren seems to fit his/ her need. If the customer needs to fit a family of 5 and safely travel, then the MiniVan is the BETTER of the two. In the second example, if the customer needs to dress professionally at his/ her job as a C-Suite executive on Wall Street then the Giorgio Armani suit would fit his/her need and would be the BETTER option. If the customer wants to get a workout in at the gym, then a pair of sweats seems to be the BETTER option of the two.

When working with various companies, a common problem I see is that too much time and energy is spent on trying to make a "better" product than the competition. Simon Sinek said it best when he said "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it". When we take a step back and focus some time and energy into figuring out why the business was started in the first place and what problems you set out to solve, we can then start with a refreshed perspective. Understanding your "why" and clearly stating and sticking to your "why" will build products and services that are the solution to peoples problems that believe in the same "why" as you. You don't need to make a BETTER product than your competition, because BETTER is relative to each specific customer.

Figure out the problem that you care most about as a company and figure out an awesome solution to that problem. Any business that has done this correctly has succeeded far bigger than they ever thought possible. To get on the level of customer loyalty of such businesses as Apple or Harley Davidson, I suggest taking some time today to ask yourself why you started your business in the first place and then take the necessary steps to get back on track to that vision.

The right change makes all the difference.

Justin Pardee