Last week I spent several days skiing with my family at a world class ski resort in British Columbia as part of our holiday vacation. One morning as we were on the chairlift, I looked down on the terrain park – and I saw were dozens of people who are far more daring than I am, and who get their thrills by flying off of a variety of jumps and other props, from rails to boxes and other such things. I have never been much of a daring skier myself, so I have tended to stay away from the world of freestyle – yet there are many others out there spend their entire day on the mountain seeking out the thrill of attempting crazy jumps and tricks all day long – even if it means risking injury and spending a good portion of their day picking themselves up and cleaning snow out of their clothing after “biting it” and tumbling head over heel after a failed attempt!
Watching these freestyle athletes reminded me of my younger years when I was on the mountain with friends who wanted to hit all the jumps. Back then, there was no such thing as a terrain park at any of the hills I frequented. Rather, those skiers and boarders who wanted to find “big air” and undertake the daring adventures of flying high off of jumps, had to seek out jumps on the natural terrain, or build them themselves. Usually, it was only a short time before these individuals would be chased down by one of the mountain patrol staff and informed that they are not to jump, as jumping was considered dangerous and not permitted by the mountain. Sometimes the ski patroller’s intervention even came with the threat of having their lift ticket taken away for the rest of the day. This was viewed as out of control skiing and was seen as a risk to others on the mountain.
Times have changed in the world of winter sports, and now, instead of ski hills and their patrollers coming down hard on those visitors who seek the thrills of freestyle, they have found ways of catering to this group, by actually creating purpose built terrain parks. It has become such common place now, that a ski hill without a terrain park is simply not one that is keeping up with the times. Such a ski hill or resort would simply not be relevant, and would not be meeting an important market need. There is a large group of individuals who simply would not spend money at a ski hill that doesn’t offer a terrain park and the opportunity for them to spend their day going freestyle.
In business, we need to always be aware of new and emerging trends, and need to be responsive in terms of recognizing what is wanted and needed in the marketplace. If we are not able to effectively identify current and future client needs, we will lose relevance and lose business. How many skiers and boarders would simply not have spent the money at the ski resort I was at, if that resort had failed to evolve with the market need over the years? If you have been in business for any length of time, you can undoubtedly look back and name several things that you do or ways in which you offer products and services today, and you did not just a few years ago. You know that if you were not offering some of what you offer today, you would not be growing your business.
Staying relevant and continually meeting market need through your business requires several important things.
- An ability to identify current, and predict future trends and market needs.
- The willingness to take risks and make investments to stay ahead of the market need.
- Soliciting and responding to client and customer feedback regarding their wants and needs for today and tomorrow.
- Offering a variety of products and services in different ways that meet the needs of a variety of different client and customer groups.
Entering 2016, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself about your relevance. As you are focused on the many daily operational issues and challenges on your plate, do a check in with your strategic leadership team about what current and future market needs you need to get out in front of. Here are the critical questions you need to address:
- Are your clients satisfied?
- Are they looking for you to offer or deliver your products and services in different ways?
- What trends are emerging that you can get out in front of that will help you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and lead the way?
As you answer these questions, be sure to identify and determine where you need to modify and launch or experiment with new approaches and methodologies, or new products and services that will keep you relevant, and ahead of the curve and the emerging trends in your industry. Your success this year requires action on your part to lead the way for your clients and customers.