Avoiding the Blockbuster Trap

blogpic_laurenRemember the days when you would drive up to Blockbuster with your partner or your family, browse the aisles analyzing all the movie titles – new and old, pick out boxes of candy, maybe even snag some popcorn.  Blockbuster was on to something big. Those were good times and Blockbuster ruled.

But now, Blockbuster is gone.

They weren’t looking at the competition, and when they finally noticed it and tried to offer similar services, it was too late. Soon, we saw Blockbusters closing all over town and thought to ourselves “another one bites the dust.”

Public relations is not just about sharing news about your company or business, it’s about monitoring the competition. You have to stay aware of what they are doing, what differentiates them from you and you from them, know how they market themselves, and what they are getting placed in trade publications that pertain to your industry.

For example, if you are developing or managing an innovative, modern senior living community, then you should regularly peruse industry websites and periodicals such as: Senior Housing News, Senior Living Executive Magazine or Irving Levin Associates. What are they saying about your competitors? What topics are they covering? Perhaps you could pitch them something better, or send them a follow up idea to an article they previously published.

Monitor the local news outlets in the areas where your community is located. You need to be aware of new neighbors—from the good kind (e.g. medical centers, libraries, activity centers, etc.) to the bad (i.e. competitors). Knowing this information can help you adjust your plan in regards to marketing, promotions, special events and the like.

When Blockbuster started offering $1 rentals, adding streaming capabilities to their website and advertising their low monthly membership rate, it was too little, too late. Redbox and Netflix had taken off and left them in the dust. Blockbuster wasn’t prepared and didn’t act fast enough to save its life. They made the mistake of thinking major success lasts forever—without ongoing vigilance.

Sports fans get this concept. When drafting for fantasy football, or rooting for teams on Sundays, they analyze the competition. They know numbers, strengths, weaknesses and even character traits of the players. Staying on top of the latest changes determines winners and losers.

We all know that yesterday’s approaches to senior living aren’t viable today. The winners in senior living will stay ahead of the curve and make sure that they move to the “thought leader” position in their market. That’s because thought leaders are the ones who define best practices in the areas they serve, and consumers have an uncanny knack for recognizing best practices through comparative shopping.

So, even if you’re at 100 percent occupancy today, put energy and zeal into knowing everything you can about your competitors. Sooner or later, one of them will be gaining on you and you’ll need to make adjustments. That way you can avoid the Blockbuster trap of complacent marketing.

Popcorn, anyone?

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