How to win the battle for relevance

MichaelMcQueen

Despite the chill outside, the atmosphere inside Sydney’s Doltone House last Wednesday was warm, with business owners gathered for the launch of Michael McQueen’s new book.

McQueen, a social researcher and trends expert, launched Winning the Battle for Relevance with a presentation on the book’s key discussions.

A compelling speaker, McQueen had the room of business owners hooked as he explained his relevance curve, which tracks the usual business journey from emergence to prominence, and then obsolescence.

The reason for the descent into obsolescence, McQueen said, is that most business leaders only pay attention to their ‘audible pulse’ indicators, such as market share, profits, and sales figures.

Leaders are ignoring the measure of their relevance – their ‘silent pulse’.

McQueen believes complacency is one of the biggest threats in business, with companies resting on their laurels and habitual thinking as they sit in what he calls their ‘so hot right now’ stage. In the meantime, their silent pulse inevitably catches up and begins to make itself heard.

McQueen, who has worked with leading brands including Pepsi and Tupperware, studied over 500 brands and organisations from around the world, tracking their rise and fall – and, in some cases, their rise to prominence once more.

Based on this research, Winning the Battle for Relevance looks at how different businesses have lost this battle and offers advice on how to avoid suffering the same fate.

How to measure your silent pulse

McQueen offers leaders five questions to help measure their company’s silent pulse:

  1. Do your competitors tend to copy you?
  2. Are your processes and procedures flexible and adaptable?
  3. Are you more excited about the future of your business rather than past success?
  4. Do you spend more time in strategy than maintenance of your business?
  5. Has one of your team members, in the last seven days, actively disagreed with you around the decisions you’re making?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then chances are their brand or organization will remain relevant and successful. If not, McQueen warns it’s time to start listening to the silent pulse and working towards relevance.

Shift happens

As all business owners know, external change is inevitable. In order to stay relevant, businesses must react to, and adapt along with, these changes:

  1. Technological shifts
  2. Market shifts
  3. Legislative shifts
  4. Demographic shifts

McQueen pointed out that for many companies today, making their brand relevant to the cashed up Generation Y is the key to success.

“No business, no brand, no industry can afford to ignore them,” he said.

How to reposition your brand

The seven key questions to ask when looking to reposition your brand:

  1. What motivates and impresses our market?
  2. What confuses/disappoints/frustrates our market?
  3. Who else is currently solving their problems?
  4. How are we currently seen and perceived?
  5. How are we in a category of one? What makes us unique?
  6. Where are the gaps (in the market, in the product)?
  7. What are your market’s unknown future needs?

Michael McQueen’s Winning the Battle for Relevance: Why even the greatest become obsolete…and how to avoid their fate can be ordered from his website.

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