In talking to some newspapers recently, I’ve started challenging people to think about what their real asset is. As information becomes more and more commoditised, and price is no longer the differentiator that it once was, rethinking what a business’ real asset is is critical to staying alive today, let alone gaining a competitive advantage.
More often than not, the real asset is the thing that you can’t take away. Let’s consider some business types:
If a newspaper thinks its asset is the delivery of news, then what happens when someone can deliver it that faster, sooner, more individualised and as it breaks? The newspaper can try and become more technologically aware or resist it like Murdoch, or it can understand that its real asset is the ability to gather to news.
Think about it – a local newspaper knows its local community like few others do. If it wanted to pull together and network local businesses, identify and rally around a cause, gather information about a happening, it could do so easily.
Anyone competing and winning on delivery of news just can’t bet the local newspaper’s gathering of the news. In fact, it doesn’t just gather it, it sources it. (BTW, for expert reading on publishing, read Andrew Davies on the Idio Platform blog.)
How about this case study by Steffan Antonas on the now famed AJ Bombers burger joint? 161 people turn up and check in on Foursquare at the same time – not for the food – but to unlock a special Swarm Badge that is only available when over 50 people simultaneously check into the same location.
Was the asset for the restaurant food? Or is the asset a geographical location where people can connect in a place that now has international attention?
Online retailer Threadless sells limited crowd sourced designed T-shirts. Over $30 million later, is their asset T-shirts, or is it their ability to crowd source from their community whatever designs need or could be crowd sourced?
This post by Garrick Schmitt at the beginning of the year cleverly shows how for many brands, the asset is the integration of their products experience in everyday life – more than the products themselves. What do I mean? Google is no longer just about search. Facebook is no longer just about keeping in touch with friends. Even Twitter is no longer about “what you are doing” – it is now a realtime engine for discovering opinion, sourcing information, identifying leads. It’s a funnel.
For Professional Service Providers
Is the asset their flagship product? Or is it their deep expertise of their area that can be applied in a number of ways? Julian Summerhayes wrote some great thoughts about this recently. Especially when it comes to Twitter, first-mover advantage is still to be had – and the way to take it is by stepping up and becoming an Active Authority. If you ask anyone in Exeter what photographer to go with, what IT company to go with, what recruitment company to go with, what web design and online marketing company to go with, you’ll get unanimous answers.
One way that Professional Service Providers can be an Active Authority is to run events that reaffirm your expertise by just uniting people around a topic – much like the Charity Social Media events in Exeter. I don’t know who at this event is even involved in charity work, but that doesn’t matter – people perceive them to be so.
That type of first-mover advantage is proving really hard for others to compete against, especially when the real asset is understood.
For Like Minds
Is our asset a conference? Or is it a community? Long after the conference is over, there is a community and that is our asset that other conferences can’t compete on.
For Scott Gould
My asset isn’t really Like Minds, Aaron+Gould or this blog. My asset is the connections I’m making with all of you – that’s what gets great things done – which is why I keep on banging on about it. You can take away everything else, but that’s still there.
What I’d like to know from each of you is:
- What is your real asset? What is the thing that stays when everything else is taken away?