The last five years has seen traditional media, especially the press, suffering a steady and painful decline. One by one, media business models have been dismantled as the booming digital world has exploded.
In the 90’s it was presumed that the Internet economy would be very similar to the traditional business world and that the existing empires would be able to easily transition online and maintain their dominant place in the world.
Then it was assumed that maybe a new generation of Goliaths would arrive to take over or sit alongside the old players. To some extent that was true as Google, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Amazon and others grew and grew.
But the reality has been that the old media titans aren’t being toppled by one or two major new players, its more a death by a thousand (or probably a million cuts). Major news and entertainment sources have been replaced for many consumers by and endless array of blogs, microsites and alternative online service providers. Tiny niche content providers are able to provide deeper, more specialist information into anything imaginable and the old media models have no hope of competing.
Its affected the press. Its affected the television industry. Its affected publishing. Its affected radio.
But while we’ve all been observing the struggles of the media industry and shaking our heads knowingly with hindsight, have we been considering that the same thing could also happen to other industries?
Perhaps your industry?
It could be that your industry is also heading for a shake up and the names you currently know and compete against may not be the ones who will do the shaking.
It could be an army of small, agile specialists armed with inexpensive digital technology and low overheads.
It could be a cadre of independent bloggers who are steadily eroding your old audience base.
It could be the savvy inbound marketers who have turned the old sales model on its head. They aren’t trying to reach your customers with outbound ads and aggressive sales teams, so you probably haven’t noticed them yet. Instead they are creating online content, like videos, blogs and games, that is slowly attracting your old customers and turning them into fans and eventually customers.
Traditional businesses who ignore the new paradigms of the digital economy won’t suffer at the hands of their old competitors, they’ll suffer death by a thousand cuts.