BUSINESS MARKETING: The demise of the Pony Express … redux

2013-02-09T09:42:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: The demise of the Pony Express … reduxLarry Galler Times Business Columnist
February 09, 2013 9:42 am  • 

In the past two decades, technology has changed our culture at an ever-increasing rate. The announcement the U.S. Postal Service will eliminate Saturday mail delivery, while no surprise, is one more indication of this transformation into a more digital existence. But this transformation isn’t anything new.

Digital technology allows for faster (virtually immediate), cheaper (basically free) communication worldwide without regard for time zones, national boundaries or even continents.

Just as the Postal Service is being supplanted by email and other digital communication services, back in the 1860s, the transcontinental telegraph caused the closing of the Pony Express, which lasted just two days after the telegraph lines reached Salt Lake City, Utah.

It isn’t as if the administrators at the post office determined they wanted to close on Saturday. The truth is that mail volume has declined significantly since 2011, the peak year, and monetary losses have escalated even though productivity has increased and they have closed a number of facilities while raising postage rates in order to remain in business. The fact is the post office is much like the Pony Express, losing out to a superior technology.

But you know all this. So why am I bringing it up?

Simple. I want you to think for a moment whether this type of technology revolution can put your business in danger of being the next post office or Pony Express or Kodak or any number of businesses and institutions that have ceased to be relevant to their targeted market.

I want you to think about your customers and what you can do today to continue serving them tomorrow. Your customers are constantly looking for ways they can be better satisfied, and while you are on cruise control someone is going to figure out how to do it.

Ask yourself a few questions about what your customers are knowingly or unknowingly seeking and how you can supply them with whatever it is and do it faster, cheaper, better, nicer, prettier, or some combination of these attributes. Don’t end up like the Pony Express.



Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Get Galler’s free case study of a small business transformed by a breakthrough strategy. Just email and put "Case Study" in the subject line.

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