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The immediacy of online interaction has made marketing both easier and more challenging than ever before. On one hand, companies can respond to market shifts in real time. On the other, new innovations can quickly make once-vital services unnecessary.
In other words, disruption is now part of every brand and business’ DNA. Or at least it better be for the next disruption is coming. It’s only a matter of time.
No event demonstrates disruption better than Netflix’s ascension over Blockbuster. Not only did Netflix’s disruption swiftly decimate Blockbuster’s market, but the former video giant openly rejected the idea that the market could change so quickly. According to Business Insider, Blockbuster had the chance to buy Netflix for just $50 million. Today, Blockbuster is defunct, and Netflix is worth more than $32 billion.
For CMOs, running a business in the digital age constantly presents never-before-seen challenges. Companies that fail to appreciate the power of instantaneous communication will succumb to more savvy enterprises that embrace innovation.
The Ripple Effect
When Netflix toppled Blockbuster, it set off a chain reaction of events that disrupted several subindustries within the tech sector.
Cutting the cord is now so common that the cable packages large companies once relied upon no longer interest most customers — even at discounted prices. According to The Economist, more Americans have been giving up cable than buying it since 2013, and the gap continues to grow.
This entertainment revolution expanded rapidly. Soon, competitors to Netflix — such as Hulu and Amazon Prime Video — emerged. New streaming hardware from Roku and Apple came out to combat the bulky and expensive boxes that were then the norm.
When one industry changes in the age of the Internet, the shockwaves affect everyone. Companies that are not prepared to change quickly find themselves outpaced and overtaken by more innovation-minded competitors.
To ensure your company doesn’t follow Blockbuster into irrelevance, follow these strategies to stay nimble in the digital world.
1. Tell a proactive brand story.
Creating engaging content to establish a narrative for your online customers to follow is one of the new top priorities of a CMO. Thanks to social media, consumers today are more in control of brand perception than ever before. It’s up to you to keep up a steady flow of content to guide that conversation in a positive direction.
Content Marketing Institute found that 75% of companies plan to increase the amount of interactive content they produce. The more engaged your customers are, the less likely it is that you will lose control of your brand’s image.
2. Find consumer hangouts.
Wherever your customers are online, you should be, too. Whether you use digital advertising, organic social content, or active engagement, maintaining a constant social media presence is a prerequisite to successful marketing. CMOs need to coordinate regular communication on their brands’ own pages (including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) and join industry groups around the web to see what people are saying.
MNIB Consulting recommends using suggested sections on sites like Amazon and Facebook to see which sources and tangential sources are influencing your customers.
3. Respond to consumer demands.
The Internet can be a scary place for brands because consumers don’t hide their feelings when they’re unhappy. But don’t lurk in the background online. CMOs must listen, engage, and respond to consumer wants, needs, and demands. Take advantage of social media tools like SocialRank to gather data and address common issues.
4. Solve real-life problems.
Industry disruptors like Netflix succeed because they solve a key problem for a target demographic. Similarly, when people started complaining about the difficulty of dating in the modern age, Tinder was born. When fashion enthusiasts were tired of paying high prices for clothes they would wear once or twice, Rent the Runway gave them a solution. Even established brands, such as Domino’s and Jimmy John’s, adapted to shifting consumer needs by developing apps to allow customers to order from their phones.
5. Anticipate market shifts.
Stay informed on industry trends, and plan ahead for the needs and demands of tomorrow. Attending conferences, keeping up with market news, and networking with industry influencers will help CMOs to stay in the know about the next big things. Observe competitors with a keen eye to see where they shine and where they’re lacking. The more insight you have into what’s happening now, the better prepared you will be for what happens next.
The age of the Internet will continue to disrupt markets across the world. Don’t hesitate and get left behind — use these strategies to take control of your destiny and own the next disruption in your industry.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.