Leadership / Management

In a world of choice, can you scratch my niche?

AndersonYour friendly CPA Success bloggers are spending the week at DigitalNow, an annual conference that addresses the critical issues facing association leaders in the digital age. Though geared toward associations, the conference is rich with many lessons that can be applied to businesses across the board.

Take the keynote address. Whereas consumers were once defined by what they had in common (think America's Top 40), Wired Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson says we are now defined by our differences. He calls it a "radical fragmentation of the audience." (He also calls it "the long tail." Check out a visual description of that concept.)

"Some things are very popular, but most things are not," Anderson explains. "Mass markets still exist, but most of us live in the niche market."

Think about television: Once upon a time, close to 70 percent of the audience tuned in at times to watch "I Love Lucy." Today's top shows are lucky if they draw more than 10 percent of viewers. Why? Simple -- more choices. There are more channels than ever offering more choices than ever, and that's sending the ratings of the most popular programs plunging.

The same can be said of nearly every other market. Most books aren't found on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Most movies aren't found on the shelves at Blockbuster. Most CDs aren't available at Wal-Mart. But there's room for almost everything on the Internet, and it's all easily found via Google and other top search engines.  "We used to compete with giants," Anderson says. "Now we compete with an army of ants."

In this "new market of the neglected," Anderson says the most successful organizations will give their clients the resources they need to do what they want ... and then get out of their way. The ultimate example, he says, is Wikipedia. The user-generated online encyclopedia lets its readers create content that is meaningful for them.

"We don't know what our people want. We can't know what they want," Anderson says. "Our job is to give them the tools so they can do what they want."

The question is: How do you plan to create value for your clients in this new world of choice? There are no easy answers ... but there's also no time to waste in searching for solutions.

Here are a few related resources. (Notes and clips from Anderson's presentation come to us courtesy of Fusion Productions.)


Bill Sheridan