Adapt or Die: Guilt Is Not a Business Model. Neither Is Whining.

January 20, 2017

Alama Draft House

I read a great post this week on Andy Sernovitz’s blog, Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That!: “It’s not about the competition. It’s about not sucking.” Andy is talking about the perceived threat from competitors – especially new kinds of competitors that emerge as technology and culture changes – and how businesses kick and scream about the new competition rather than making changes to ensure they’ll survive. Here’s a hefty excerpt:

[M]ovie theaters are in a constant panic about competition from DVDs and on-demand options. Which is the wrong thing to be paying attention to.

It’s not an either-or choice. If a home movie is pleasant, you’ll do that. If the theater experience is worth 10 bucks, you’ll do that too.

The theaters have spent millions fighting home movies. They should look at their own suck factor instead. They should focus on making the movie experience better.

I hate going to movies. Food sucks. 30 minutes of ads and commercials. And always some ass talking like he’s sitting in his living room. If I want bad food, commercials, and never-ending interruptions, I can watch a movie at home with my kids for free.

Alamo Drafthouse, our home-town Austin theater chain, delivers amazing experiences, including full meals at your seat. And a delicious policy of vigorously booting out talkers. They are better. They are worth 10 bucks. Competition doesn’t matter to Alamo, because they are worth it.

If you’ve never been to the Alamo Drafthouse, it really is pretty cool – Andy neglects to mention that, as the name suggests, they serve beer, not just food. They also show older movies you may have missed in the theater the first time around, offering the chance to see childhood favorites (Goonies, anyone?) on the big screen for the first time. There’s a definite value-add there over a typical theater (though honestly, if I’m going to be drinking during a movie I’ve already seen, I kind of want to be able to talk too – room for an Alamo competitor?).

Of course, this isn’t just applicable to the movie industry – it’s applicable to every industry, because the world is always changing. Your options are basically adapt or die. I can think of a lot of industries that have skidded toward obsolescence due to competition from new technologies. Did they adapt or die?

Did video kill the radio star?

No, not really – the radio still exists. Even if it’s not the dominant medium through which people get their information and entertainment anymore, there are lots of cases where radio is valuable. People still like to listen to the radio when they can’t sit still staring at a screen – while driving or at the gym, for example. And podcasts are another way for radio stations to stay viable, even earn new, young audiences. A while back all the hipsters were talking about Radio Lab.

Are bookstores on their way out?

I don’t know about you, but it really annoys me when sanctimonious types try to guilt me into buying books to “save” a brick-and-mortar bookstore. News flash: Guilt is not a business model. If people aren’t buying enough books to pay your rent, then the culture of the bookstore needs to adapt to changing technologies. Where are people still willing to hang out when they could be at home using their computers (or reading their Kindles) instead? Make bookstores more like those places:

  • Maybe bookstores could be more like Mac stores – more shiny gadgets. More apps.
  • Maybe bookstores could be more like coffee shops or bars. Barnes & Noble went in this direction when they incorporated Starbucks into their stores, but Barnes & Noble and Starbucks have become faceless corporate monoliths. People like neighborhood bars. Smaller storefronts are more intimate and have lower rents to boot. Cozy seating, snacks, booze, free Wi-Fi, and books to browse? Sounds like a good hangout to me.
  • Maybe bookstores could be more like parks. See the Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut, a rangy outdoor space with an amazing selection of cheap used books, free coffee, and pet goats – it’s a destination bookstore among Northeastern book nerds.

How else can bookstores adapt, so people want to go to them, rather than keeping them open as charity cases? How does this apply to your industry?

Web Marketing Highlights of the Week

Link building 4 life!!! Links have a way of deteriorating over time. Ross Hudgens lays out some criteria for building links that have a longer lifespan.

Does "link prominence" on a page have an effect on its SEO value? Randy Pickard at Search Engine People thinks it may, since link order can affect click rates, among other factors.

California has proposed legislation that would require social networks to make your data private by default. But Facebook, Google, and Twitter all oppose it. Jerks!

Crappy rankings in Bing? Jennifer Horowitz at Search Engine Journal has put together a cheat sheet for getting better Bing rankings.

Ian Lurie has a list of nine things to check before you publish a blog post to avoid the shame of "linkus interruptus."

Did you hear about the whoopsy-daisy deleted Secret Service tweet? Pretty funny, but the real surprise here is, the Secret Service has a Twitter account??!

Have a good weekend everybody.

Photo: eyeliam

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert

Elisa Gabbert is WordStream's Director of Content and SEO. Likes include wine, karaoke, poker, ping-pong, perfume, and poetry.

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