Warning… the following major stores are closing this year:

Sports Authority: closing all stores this year

The Limited: closing all 250 stores, but continuing online

Wal-Mart: 154 stores

Sears and Kmart: 142 stores

Office Depot/ Office Max: 400 stores

Macy’s: 100 stores

American Eagle: 150 stores (over a 3-year period)

Chico’s: 120 stores

Aeropostale: 154 stores

Walgreens: 200 stores

McDonalds: closing 500 stores, but opening 1000

This seems like a bad sign…but is it?

For the past eight years, parts of the economy have been frozen as the real estate crisis wore on and on, negatively affecting larger parts of the economy.

During this period, our own country found itself in an anti-business environment with more regulations imposed on businesses and individuals, restricting new growth.

Now, we have a new business-oriented President and a business-oriented

Cabinet. They themselves are wealthy and know how to make money. While there is no guarantee the economy will get better, the theme of tax reductions, new jobs and the building and rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure are all actions that, if come to pass, will have a positive impact on business and the economy in general.

The result of this economic policy shift, along with a simultaneous business marketing and operational shift, is notification that a change is coming for the way we do business, including finding and retaining customers. The store closings mentioned above are just part of this reshuffle. Some companies are cutting back in general, while others are moving online to operate in a different environment. In all cases, the store closings show a change in the status quo and serves as a notice that failure to make changes in your business to fit your customer’s buying patterns will result in loss of customers and revenue.  You simply cannot afford to sit still. Destruction or disruptions of entire industries are at hand,  controlling how those influence your business will determine your success in the future.

First, to succeed long term, your business must be both online and offline. You should have a presence in both worlds and you must learn to market in both worlds. If you don’t, you are ignoring a growing segment of your market. There are already parts of the economy that are totally moving online. This may ultimately be what happens in your industry, but for now, you should have a presence in both worlds keeping focused on where your leads and sales are coming from.

Over a year ago, our company was spending over $25,000 a month on major magazine ads in Inc., Forbes, Success and others. Now, that exact same budget has shifted to Facebook because the magazine ads quit producing good leads and sales generated by Facebook took off.

On the other hand, we have stayed with direct mail, newsletters, and even this magazine, because these off line marketing tools produce direct leads or build relationship with existing clients, both of which produce ROI on their cost.

To find out what you should do regarding your marketing you have to survey your market. How has it changed? How do your buyers want to do business now? If you don’t find out, and adapt accordingly, you may not get another chance.

No matter what your business is, your audience is waiting to hear from you with answers to their most pressing problems.

If you are in real estate you have to go where your market of buyers and sellers hang out. What they read, watch or listen to is where you need to be in order to reach them with your message.

If you are a financial advisor you have to refine your target market and tailor your message to the solutions your prospects and customers are looking for.

If you are a lawyer, there is more specialization taking place and your message must be targeted to reach the people looking for that specific type of representation and help.

The same is true in health care and education.

I am sure you get the point… markets are narrowing. It is true in every profession or industry. People want the best expert available to them because they don’t want to waste time with anyone less.

Let me use an example in our own media agency business.  The biggest company in our field is WPP, a worldwide conglomerate with over 160 operating companies. WPP owns most of the iconic ad agencies in New York such as J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Young and Rubican. In other words, if the agency guys of Mad Men were working in real Life, WPP would own them.

WPP’s 2015 billings were $67.5 billion dollars and revenue of $17 Billion. The company has 190,000 employees in 3,000 offices in 112 countries. But the big reveal about the change in this company is what its CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell, recently said about his business, “We’re not in the advertising business any more, we’re in the media, data, and digital business, predominately. That’s 75% of our business. We need creatives who are prepared to employ data and to use technology.”

WPP is an example of how the king of an entire industry is disrupting itself and morphing into a new company. Their size and dollar commitment to its change show us all where we need to be going, toward digital. However,  they are wise by keeping a foot in the old ways of marketing and building a business as the transition takes place.

The Sports industry is another arena being disrupted before our very eyes. Right now, the industry of sports is faced with a transition from a supply-based industry to a demand-based one and the determining factor is the attention the consumer is willing to give.

Already, the time devoted to watch programs like the NFL is fairly long, but the demand to watch longer programs is decreasing. To counter the trend, derivative products like the NFL Red Zone and on demand NFL and MLB are growing because they shorten time spent and increase action during the time actually viewed. They are giving the consumer who can afford it an alternative to fit their desire to have sports programing served to them the way they want it. Soon, it will be anytime, anywhere, and on any device you want to get it on.

To counter lost viewing time and commercial time, proposals are already being discussed by the major leagues such as commercial free games, rules changes to increase the speed of action, and alternative ways to advertise that take less interrupted time but keep revenue up for the broadcasters.

These are but a few examples of destruction and disruption in media and business. The same type of thing is going on in all businesses and entire industries, including the one you are in. To survive in the next economy, you need to look ahead to different ways to stay competitive in your business. You will definitely need a strong web presence instead of just an office. You will need to use social media as a marketing tool, not just a social network for friends. You will need to learn how to connect with your customers where they are online and retarget to them as they move about their social platforms. You will need to learn how to communicate your message in all media formats because podcasts and videos are growing bigger at all levels and in all types of businesses. These changes and the rapid speed at which you must convert your marketing and business platform for operations are no longer an option.

About the Author

JW Dicks

JW Dicks, Esq. is the nation’s foremost expert on personal branding, an Attorney, Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author®, Entrepreneur and Business Strategist. JW has been called the “Expert to Experts,” written over 43 books, and is Editor and Publisher of ThoughtLeader® Magazine. He is an Emmy® award-winning Executive Producer and a member of the XPrize Innovation Board. For more information about JW or personal branding please visit www.celebritybrandingagency.com.