Innovate or Else…

What would happen if we don’t innovate?

We are in quite the conundrum – to innovate NOW or face extinction.
How many of you are facing the same question? If you’re based in
Shanghai and focused on the outdoor media business, you’d be hard
pressed to not consider your alternatives. For the competition are
dropping like flies.


In a country where the whole concept of storytelling (advertising)
is still in its infancy, it’s a difficult decision to jump in and
innovate when the basics are still being learnt. It’s like teaching a
child to ride a bike when he only just learnt to walk? But if they (the
clients) stop spending on your product, well, it might be time to
reconsider your proposition.

What is your ‘real’ value? What makes your product relevant today?
In our industry you can become insignificant in the blink of an eye.
Economic pressure has placed an incredible amount of importance on
‘relevance’. Everyone must matter. There is no room for passengers. I’m
certain we are just witnessing the tip of the iceberg. So, to pre-empt
any further carnage, we’re asking ourselves those exact questions and
it’s having some profound results.

A recent biography titled ‘Call me Ted‘,
by the infamous Ted Turner, contains one fundamental message that has
since had a productive influence on my life. That lesson: ‘maximize
your assets’, whatever they may be. What have you got that has value?
IP? A network of friends? Industry knowledge? A great attitude?
Whatever it is, consider how you can create value from it. You may not
see it, but others will.


You could always keep going the way you have done the past five
years. It worked then. It worked for GM 20 years ago, too. An option is
to push forward and fight to the death. Who knows? You may be last one
standing. But to what end? Is time moving so fast that we can’t stop
and review our own product, listen to our clients’ concerns and
consider if and how we can all take advantage of that?

To some, crises evoke panic, despair and more grey hairs. The Chinese word for “crisis” is often erroneously thought to be   composed of two characters: one representing danger and the other representing opportunity.
Etymological nuance aside, how you see the ‘glass’ will ultimately
determine how you perform through a crisis. The Chinese are very good
at planning for such an event. After all, it’s all in Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War‘.

It’s a great time for perspective. Clarity follows, with great
self-actualisation, hopefully leading to a moment of bliss where you
see it so clearly you can’t work out why you didn’t see it earlier.


Perhaps the past many years have been a combination of luck? One would be a fool to expect
the same amount of luck in a competitive market place. Those who move
first will have the best advantage and will always be renowned for
showing that initiative.

Take on the ‘crisis’ head on, with an attitude of optimism and aggression. Who knows? You may just become a new market leader.


About the author

Andrew Collins, the Founder & CEO of a multi-award winning social media and technology group Mailman. Based in Shanghai, Mailman has pioneered a dozen online initiatives including a Hollywood entertainment portal for China, Chinese social media management platforms, online sports networks, applications and more