You may have heard that Gourmet magazine will stop publication after the November issue.
In a world where "gourmet" has been replaced with the more egalitarian "foodie", over-scheduled families prefer 30 minute meals, and search engines serve up (no pun intended) more than one million different recipes, it may have just been Gourmet's time. How can a print magazine compete against a search engine that will provide recipes based on what you have in your cupboard?
Gourmet is just one business that has been upended by the Internet. Travel agencies, newspapers, independent bookstores, realtors, the local video rental store...the list goes on.
And yet, within each of these groups certain people and businesses survive. Instead of seeing the Internet as a threat, they adopt their business plans and leverage the new tools available.
Some newspapers have abandoned print entirely, others have leveraged local bloggers and added community elements to their online editions. Some realtors have created video walkthroughs of homes and posted them to YouTube. Some local bookstores have partnered with Amazon, or formed a co-operative to compete.
Unfortunately, for each of these nimble businesses, there's 10 or 50 or 100 other businesses that do everything they can to hold onto their outdated business models, squeezing out every last penny from the buggy whip business.
Many business block their employees from using social media while at work. They often do this in the name of security or productivity, although I feel there are holes in both these arguments.
Tweets and Facebook updates aren't the only ways to share proprietary information; it's easier to put something a thumb drive. Likewise, the very tools that employees often need to do their job better are the ones being blocked.
The bottom line is that the Web and social media are changing the way we communicate and how we work; no one's going to argue that anymore. If your customers are on social media, then you have to let down the castle gates and talk with them.
You must learn to engage with them the way they want, be it through blogs, podcasts, YouTube or social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. If you're not willing to meet with them half-way, they'll find someone who is.
If your customers suddenly start communicating through smoke signals, then you better light a fire.
The Web takes no prisoners; if you don't adopt, if you don't take risks, your next issue may be your last.
You can follow, engage and argue with Rich Brooks on Twitter.