disparityBeing on the wrong side of disparity can be the difference between success and failure. What does that mean, why do you care and is that statement even applicable to your business? Even more so, what does this have to do with digital marketing? Hang in there and it should all make sense.

Before we dive in a quick definition of disparity might be in order:

Disparity: The difference between having and not having.

Disparity is one of the big themes that I suspect we are all going to be increasingly aware of over the next decade.  It appears that global geo-politics seem to be directing everyone towards a reality in which there is a finite amount of “things”.  Due to everyone recognizing limits to abundance we are also as a consequence placing a greater emphasis on tracking these limited goods which in turn means we are also going to be paying much closer attention to who actually possesses these goods.

Said in plain English, I believe over the next decade we are all going to be keeping score at a much greater pace than we have ever done so.

On a global scale we have been for some time witnesses the hold of disparity that can play such a big role in so many peoples lives – and this is not always for “the good.”

  • We are see disparity inside nations (the 99% right here in the US).
  • We see disparity between nations (despite the 99%, the standard of living in the US versus most other nations is quite advanced.)
  • We see disparity in governance (look at Syria right now where the disparity in military technology is leading to a one sided massacre.)
  • We see disparity of resources between nation states.  Some do okay with is (Japan for example), while other nations seem to have a very hard time overcoming a lack of resources.
  • We see disparity in basic things like education and healthcare. These disparities in particular have tremendous long term impact as they tend to have a larger impact on a variety of other issues.

And don’t think for a second that disparity is a concept that applies only on a global level. As a business owner or business stakeholder disparity can be a huge factor in how well your business is performing relative to other businesses. The tricky thing about disparity is being able to recognize the presence of it before it is too late. If disparities between you and your competitors get too far out of whack (the differential between what they have and what you do not) than you are going to be in big trouble. On the other hand if you can recognize a favorable disparity perhaps now is the time to go full court press with your advantage.

So, before we address a very specific way to defend your business let’s look at a few areas where having a disparity between you and the competition can be a big driver in bottom line performance.

  • Staff: Their staff is better than yours. Or maybe they have one and you don’t.
  • Attitude: They have a good one and you don’t. It makes a difference.
  • Tea Leaf Reading: Often times business verticals face both disruptive and transformative times. Being able to see these events in your windshield rather than your rear view mirror can be a huge advantage giving you years, months or even days of lead time. A disparity of time.
  • Cash: Money matters. It can buy things like media. It can also allow you to purchase differently. If your competitors have a major disparity over you, that is a problem. We’ve all been there.
  • Technology: The pace of change in the technology sector is blazing fast – “real time” has never been more relevant. The challenge with technology is that it has the capacity to deliver some semblance of scale very quickly – if you are facing a disparity in terms of technology your competitors could be dominating entire markets that you are not even aware of. By the time you figure it out it could be too late.

There might come a point where disparity will be overwhelming and the disadvantage your business is operating under will be so vast that you will not be able to recover. You either have or you do not have.  And if too many of the above factors are playing against you, you are more and more likely to have not.  That is not to say you can’t claw your way up, or for that matter quickly tumble down, but if left unchecked, disparity can cripple your business.

So how do you recognize disparity. How do you prevent disparity? How to do you achieve disparity relative to your competitors?

Most importantly, and likely the reason you are here to begin with, what does any this have to do with digital marketing?

And this is where it gets interesting. Over the past decade what we’ve seen is that many of the fundamental concepts that have been developed over the industrial revolution have now been applied to a technology revolution. Whereas before the means to produce where very limited to those who had enough working capital to some way be able to participate in assembly line economics (money to produce, cash to advertise or capital to purchase) today that paradigm has broadened out considerably.

And that in turn means that every business now has a very good opportunity to reverse some components of disparity which in turn can begin to impact the bottom line and travel into other avenues or your overall business.   Perhaps you as a business owner are facing disparity relative to your competition and by looking to reverse just one element of disparity, you can than leverage that changing tide to operate as a beachhead from which to continue to change the pace, attitude, direction and trajectory of your company.

And what would that one factor be? That disruptive force that even 10 years ago was barely a blip and today is nothing short of a sustained roar?

I am talking about the Internet.

The internet of today offers a very rich and dynamic way for every business owner, no matter how big or small to participate.  I often look at myself as an example of this an marvel at how amazing this series of pipes and tubes, of 1’s and 0’s has somehow managed to play such a large role in not only my life but the the lives of some many. Even this very post is able to be distributed only because of the internet.

Maybe your store is not located in the best spot. Maybe the depth of your product line is not where you’d like it to be. Or perhaps you don’t have the benefit of a sustained muli-year television campaign to help support your operation. No matter what, by utilizing the technology of today, you as a business owner or an operational stakeholder have suddenly been given access to the most modern and connected tools the world has ever seen.  Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

There are basic fundamental ideas that you can build on such as creating a website which means that your business can suddenly use disparity to your advantage (if your site is better than theirs, eventually you will see real results relative to theirs). Social media is another great opportunity. CRM (customer relationship management) has never been more affordable.

And the truth is that the pipelines and obstacles that were in place with the “old” paradigm are no longer there. If you want a website you can go and get one – nothing is stopping you. If you want to participate in social media you can. Newsletters via email marketing are ridiculously affordable (even basic things like postage and print costs have been removed).

Did I just hear you ask about video? I’m not going to lie to you – I personally believe the TV spots are still very effective but in the world of today you are not limited to just television for your video – in fact if you have your own website there is a great place for you to place videos. Even if you don’t have a website YouTube allows you to post videos for free and that includes hosting! And the tools that you need in order to shoot and edit a video have never been more affordable nor have they been more user friendly. And while TV spots are very effective on a general level, video on your site has the capacity to have a direct and measurable impact on your bottom line.

And we have not even begun to delve into the many advantages that you can achieve through cloud computing.

Suddenly working capital has been dramatically enhanced by both time and know how!

Avoid A Digital Disparity Deficit

It has been a long time since you as a business owner have had such an active opportunity to narrow the gap and to do so in such a dramatic, quick and effective manner – and while the web is likely only one part of your operation, you’d be wise to heavily measure the opportunity here and to try to take full advantage of this the internet and to do everything you can to make “disparity” work in your favor including utilizing the internet to help further your business goals.

So far in this post we’ve covered a ton of ground but I’m getting ready to bring it full circle. And I’m going to do so with a word of caution. As you might recall in the beginning of this post I referenced a number of “big” sweeping instances of disparity where big entities like governments, nations and institutions are doing everything they can to stack the deck in their favor. Well guess what, just because technology allows you to achieve a bit of a claw back by utilizing technology to the favor of your business does not mean that this window will be open forever.

As your competitors get more and more smart about how they utilize technology, and as technology assumes and ever greater role in our lives (both personal and business) those who manage to master technology, at least to the extent that it is possible, will realize a huge advantage over those who do not. Once that gap is too large, too disparate, then the ability to come back and remain competitive will no longer be real.

Want To Talk About It?

And maybe you are thinking to yourself that all sounds great but I really am not entirely sure how to proceed?  Well, if that is the case and you are a small business owner or operational stakeholder (under 100 employees) than consider booking some Coffee Consultation time with me and we can talk about digital disparity and we can also talk about ideas that you are considering for your own operation, or perhaps we can discuss ideas that maybe you should be considering.

So hopefully if anything this post has really put a scare in you and has in part motivated you to take that next step – whatever that may be.  And by the way, even if you don’t want to set up a consultation, feel free to comment below.  I’d love to get your thoughts on this post.