If you are reading this as a professional working at a trade or industry association, a professional society or an institute, you are Walmart.
Your organization started as an analog business in a different era, and your analogous core is that of a bricks-and-mortar retailer, not a digital twenty-first-century, technology driven, customer driven, online retailer and media organization like Amazon.
Don’t take offense, and hear me out. There is good news coming.
Amazon has already won the “buying” race, meaning most of the time it’s the best place to buy almost anything at the lowest cost, with the best service and delivery options. They won’t lose ground anytime soon for a list of reasons too long to list here.
I know how many of you are developing virtual events, new digital learning platforms, and testing new trade show approaches and ways to monetize your members. And just like Walmart’s purchase of Jet, many of these efforts and investments will pay off – over time.
But for now, you are a traditional retailer and maybe a really exceptional one like Walmart.
So, for now, invest in and win playing to your strengths, core competencies and resources in a new way.
1. Win at the “point of purchase,” which is your live events. You can’t “out-efficient” online engagement, so make your live conferences and annual meetings work harder to engage, inspire and be more intimate. The old model is broken. You can’t win on “buying” as Amazon has, but you can win on a shopping, learning and creating a community experience.
2. Drive traffic. Sure, it’s more convenient to do most things online, but it’s more fun to be with other like-minded people for certain things: celebrations, seeing things up close, debating and learning. In addition to your big annual event, host pop-up experiences across the country in restaurants, museums and communities that can’t be replaced by a webinar or chat box.
3. Become a logistical powerhouse. Take a lesson from Walmart and invest in infrastructure to support your core business. Member data management, a good CRM system and a personalization platform that goes beyond “Hello, Don” in an email.
Play to your strengths, invest where the ROI will be the greatest and own who you are. Walmart is the largest company in the world for a reason. Not a bad role model.