Extinction or Evolution

Extinction or Evolution

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Rebecca McGilvray
Published: 1st October 2020

The year is 1976. Two pioneering Steves have come together to launch Apple Computers. The first commercial Concorde flight has taken to the skies. The third and final Cod War is raging here in the UK. And among all the flares and disco balls, Kodak is riding high on a wave of success.

Kodak was indisputably at the top of their game in 1976, holding 85% of the market share in cameras.

But, fast forward to 2012 and Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

What in cod’s name happened?

For the best part of 100 years, Kodak led the way in photography, making it increasingly affordable and accessible to enthusiasts worldwide with a raft of innovations, such as colour film.

It’s important to note though, that in 1976 they also held 90% of the market share in film. This is actually where the majority of their money was made – film and processing.

Of course, with the advent of the digital camera and subsequently the smartphone, film quickly became obsolete.

However, it was a Kodak engineer, Steve Sasson, who invented the first digital camera in 1975. So why didn’t they capitalise on this incredible development when they had the chance?

Kodak didn’t ignore the potential of digital technology over the years that followed, they conducted extensive research into its potential capability for replacing film-based photography.

But as digital technology took off throughout the 90s, Kodak was still busy concentrating on improving upon traditional film-based photography and treated digital photography as an addition, rather than an area of focus.

They were set in their way, comfortable with film photography, and confident with their position as market-leaders. By the time sales of digital cameras overtook film in 2004, they no longer held the huge market share they were accustomed to back in the ‘70s.

They severely underestimated the swing towards digital technology and made the wrong strategic decisions based on this underestimate.

By the time smartphone technology arrived in the 2000s, Kodak was already well and truly behind the times!

Kodak’s story is just one example showing how difficult it can be for a behemoth, market-leading business to switch course and quickly adapt to the changing world it operates in.

The same is true now. The Covid-19 pandemic has created huge waves and businesses have been forced to tear apart their plans for the year and alter course dramatically. Those who have ploughed on ahead with their plans or slammed on the breaks seem to largely be bigger brands with longer decision making processes in place.

We’ve been truly inspired over the last few months by many of the smaller businesses we work with that have been able to quickly adapt, evolve, and sometimes even transform their entire business model to reflect the changing education landscape.

Sales adaptations Some of the quickest changes we saw were businesses quickly shifting in-person school visits to online. Love it or hate it, we’re all Zoom pros now, and with social distancing measures set to stay for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to offer virtual meetings as default still.

Product evolution Technology solutions that were once fixed for use inside a school site have been set free! One business quickly released new flexible licenses for their software to accommodate for the increase in remote working, offering their teacher audience unrivalled flexibility.

Identifying new USPs We’ve seen benefits of products that were once overlooked, now play a key part in marketing messages. One business which offers products traditionally seen as indoor furniture can actually withstand the rigours of the outdoors without any trouble at all, assisting with social distancing measures and arguably becoming one of their more important selling points over the last few months.

It’s these businesses who have quickly evolved and continued to connect with their teacher audience that have been able to thrive.

So what have we learnt?

  1. Be open to change. As scary as a major change in focus can be, it could also be the shift that sees you safely through a crisis.

  2. See the opportunity in a crisis. Think differently. We’ve spoken before about choosing between sticking your head in the ground and hoping a crisis blows over, or shifting course and facing challenges head-on. Hopefully, the examples above have proved that the latter is a sensible route to take!

  3. Keep connecting with your audience. Keep marketing and stay visible. While many businesses quickly fell silent when lockdown was announced, unsure how to address the crisis in their communications, we saw our email open rates increase by nearly 14%. It was those businesses that continued to reach out and were able to offer support to their teacher audience that will benefit from the positive, long-lasting relationships they’ve built.

Of course, it’s all easier said than done!

However, with our expertise in edu-marketing strategy, our services, our Campus software, and our unrivalled data (did we mention that we have 17 Data Managers who make on average 80,000 updates to the data every 30 days?) - we can help you communicate the evolutionary changes your business is making directly to the audience that needs to know.

There’ll be no extinction events today, thank you very much!

If you’d like to book a free strategy call with a member of our team, just get in touch with us here.

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Education Marketing Email Marketing Selling to Teachers

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