Down For The Count

I’ve been surprised how many big companies have folded. It took just two months for Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Hertz, JC Penney and hundreds of others to throw in the towel. Maybe they got a peek at their future, or just lacked the vision to rebuild.

Or both.

A strong economy hides many flaws. But when companies hit rough water, most can’t regroup. They lack the courage to reinvent and relaunch. So, they take a knee.

Then there are those who saw where the puck was headed and staged a comeback. So, let’s celebrate…

Netflix demolished Blockbuster with their DVD-by-mail service. Then, they abandoned that business, relaunched as a video streaming service and changed television forever.
Marvel went bankrupt in the mid-90s when the comic book market crashed. Then Disney bought Marvel and turned Iron Man’s gang into a mega-billion-dollar franchise.
Volvo had marginal success in the U.S. before being purchased by a Chinese billionaire. Now, Volvo’s been transformed into an all-electric car company, with record sales.
Delta Airlines filed for bankruptcy in 2005, expanded their fleet, invested in better service, renegotiated contracts…and now fly more passengers than any airline.
Record labels resisted the shift to digital music, and even sued Napster. Then, they cut costs, trimmed artist rosters and (reluctantly) embraced streaming. Profits are highest since 2006.

Here’s my take. Notice a pattern? Each of these companies came back with a vengeance because they 1) aimed younger 2) developed new revenue streams, and 3) threw out their old playbook. They attacked their business model as a competitor might.

I hope the radio industry is paying attention. They saw competitors charging, but clung to a 50-year old formula. If radio was a movie, they’d be rolling the credits now.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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