Every new year, even every new day, brings new challenges and new opportunities. Our futures depend on how we handle them. The 8" black and white TV is history. iPods and flat screens are in. We’d better be prepared for change every single day.
Hopefully our blog has been helpful for you in 2006. We welcome your suggestions to make it better in 2007. Our goal is to help you "work on your business, not in your business." Our business depends on your success.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank Ken Tacony and Bill Hinderer for their support of our blogging efforts. It’s kind of a "leap of faith" to invest time and energy into a new medium like blogging. You may have noticed that there aren’t a lot of consumer products companies outside of the computer industry that have blogs. We were (and still are) one of the first. I think it shows great foresight on the part of our company’s senior managers that they’re supportive of new technologies.
From all of us at Tacony Corporation, thank you for your support in 2006. We look forward to serving you in 2007.
Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded that we live in an amazing
age. We have instantaneous access to all the information we can
possibly use, right on our desk tops. Even more amazing, we can get
that same information on our pocket computers and even on our cell
phones. 24 hour news, sports, and weather are as near as our belt or
Where our grandparents, or even our parents, were amazed to see
movies “talk”, or to see 8” black and white moving pictures sent
through the air, our kids watch television in the back seat of the car
and take it for granted. We have big screen televisions that fill up
an entire wall.
But, the biggest change in television isn’t the device. It’s the
way we use the medium itself. In the ‘50s, it was simple. If it’s
Tuesday night, it’s “Uncle Miltie” time. Later on, most of us had
three choices, ABC, CBS, or NBC. If you lived in a large enough
market, there might have been one or two independent stations showing
old movies and reruns.
Then came cable. First, cable was a means for people living outside
of major markets to get a clear picture. Then, slowly, other channels
were added and cable began to appear in the big cities. CNN came along
and meant that we didn’t have to wait until 6:00 p.m. to see the news.
We could actually watch breaking events as they happened.
When clouds appeared on the horizon, we could tune to The Weather
Channel to find out what was happening. “Local on the 8’s” meant we
could actually scan the local radar every ten minutes.
Fast forward to 2006. The big three networks are scrambling.
Advertising revenues are down. We have hundreds of choices on cable
and satellite. Not going to be home on Thursday evening? TIVO “CSI”
and watch it at your leisure with the added advantage of being able to
fast forward through the commercials. Or, download it to your i-Pod
and watch it while you walk the dog. Broadcast TV’s historical
business model is toast.
Worse than cable, at least as far as the networks are concerned, is
the Internet. Now, we don’t even have to wait ten minutes for our
local weather. Just pull up the latest doplar radar images from
www.noaa.gov. Want news? Your computer doesn’t just deliver the news,
it can filter it. You can tell it in advance what you’re interested in
and just those headlines will be delivered right to your screen.
You control the direction and the speed of the “information
superhighway.” Broadcasting is out. Narrowcasting is in. The days of
some network executive sitting on the top floor of a skyscraper in New
York deciding what information and entertainment you’re going to get,
and when you’re going to get it are over. As media consumers, we
So, what’s all this have to do with our business? Simple. Our
customers have choices. When there was one major TV network, the
choices of where to shop and what to shop for were much more limited
too. Fewer stores carried fewer brands. The price of an item was
pretty much a local affair. If only one store in town carried a
particular brand, that store set the price.
Today, if I can choose what information and entertainment I want
delivered into my home, and I can choose when I want to receive it, why
would I settle for anything less in other areas of my life? If I need
a new lawn mower, I want choices; lots of choices. I want it to do
certain things, things that I choose, not things that someone else
chooses for me.
I also want a certain level of service. Maybe I can change a spark
plug once in a while. Maybe I can’t. But, I want to decide. Don’t
tell me that service that I don’t want or need is “included” in the
price when I know darned good and well that I’m paying for it.
There will always be a percentage of the population that only wants
the lowest price. So, there will always be mass merchants. But, for
the more discriminating person, mass merchants are no more valuable
than mass communication. The TIVO customer, the customer who gets his
news from Yahoo, and not from NBC or the New York Times, wants to
decide for himself. He’s already done his homework on the net and
knows what a 20” self-propelled lawn mower with electric start and
oversized wheels should cost. He knows what he wants and he knows what
he wants to pay for it. He also knows the services he wants bundled
with it and how much those services should add to his cost.
If you have what he wants, at the price he wants to pay, you have a
chance at his business. If you don’t, you don’t. It’s as simple as
This guy is in love with information. If you can tell him something
he doesn’t know, and if he doesn’t smell a sales pitch, you’ll be his
new best friend. Show him how to take better care of his lawn, or how
to make his mower last longer, and he’ll tell his current friends about
his new friend. How important is that? Remember, this guy doesn’t
watch commercials. Neither do his friends. Word-of-mouth may be the
only way to get your message to them.
Get his permission to put him on your email newsletter mailing list,
and you’ll have an excellent chance of selling him an edger, and a
trimmer, and a snowblower, as long as your newsletter contains
information that he considers valuable. Again, if he values your
newsletter, he’ll make sure his friends get on your mailing list too.
You become a valuable source of information. That’s really
narrowcasting. And you control the content.
For years we’ve all heard that the independent business is in
trouble. The big box stores are going to get it all. Nonsense! The
so-called “mass market” isn’t nearly as “mass” as some would have us
believe. Buyers have experienced the freedom to choose their
information and entertainment, they want that same freedom in other
areas too. One size fits all doesn’t anymore. It’s up to us to give
them the choices that they demand.
Here’s a question for you. What are you doing to give your customer
the same kind of choices that she gets in her information and
entertainment? How are you catering to the new, non-mass market?
Originally posted as "Say Goodbye to the Mass Market" on July 4, 2006