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Amazon entering the world of brick-and-mortar retail and grocery feels like we’re entering a new era in retail competition and offerings.

Are these signs we must change and rapidly move towards different strategic objectives to keep up? It seems slightly overwhelming to think of all the moving pieces around us without some guidance and reflection.

But, the Amazon news is really a reminder for us to return to fundamentals. A recent story in Harvard Business Review emphasizes as much, using Netflix and a classic business strategy as proof points.

While we may equate Netflix to being another big company, it doesn’t have the same aspirations to do what Amazon is doing, according to what Netflix’s CEO states:

“We’re not trying to meet all needs. So, Amazon’s business strategy is super broad. Meet all needs.” And, “What we can be is the emotional connection brand, like HBO or Netflix. So, think of it as they’re trying to be Walmart, we’re trying to be Starbucks. So super-focused on one thing that people are very passionate about.”

The key phrase above is “super-focused.”

What it all means to associations.

Here’s something associations can take to heart: It’s not terribly resource intensive and costly to succeed (relatively speaking), if we leverage choice and focus. We often hear, associations want to be the “Amazon” of their profession or field. But, is this the right approach for sustainability?

Netflix recognizes its scale (and limitations) isn’t trying to be “all things to all consumers.” Likewise, associations should not either, despite it being difficult to say “no” to constituents and segments within your audience and membership, or to decide against pursuing some new opportunity. We recognize associations operate within a completely different operational resource and budgets. Essentially, the Amazon deal is a reminder to us that it’s okay and an advantage in many ways to stay limited in scope.

It’s interesting Netflix labels its approach to the same as an “emotional connection” brand. I believe this is an important step associations can also emulate: What type of brand do we want to be? This overarching theme can help you to decide which areas to pursue and what areas to calmly avoid.

Key takeaways

1. Choosing what “not to do” is just as important, if not more, than just the selection of a strategy.

2. Make conscious decisions based on the type of brand you want to be to help you stay focused.

If you are looking for further guidance as you travel on a path of growth for your organization, connect with us today.