Consider it the ultimate pivot.
Last week, Playboy announced it will no longer publish nude photos in its magazines. Sixth grade me is very disappointed.
A brand known at its core for showing skin has now decided that it won't show as much, focusing its print magazine instead on insight and intrigue in the form of words and articles. This is a smart bet, and one that'll pay off for the company nearly instantly. And with this move, entrepreneurs the world over need to take note of three key lessons.
1. Don't be afraid to sacrifice even your most sacred of cows
Netflix doesn't ship as many DVDs as it once did. GE just sold off its leasing and lending businesses. Just because your company has done something for a long time doesn't mean that you have to do it forever. In fact, when a business, church, or nonprofit is willing to put everything - literally, everything - on the table in order to create something that is sustainable and remarkable, the faster it can ensure its survival. Entrepreneurs: don't be tied so tightly to your original idea that you drown when the ship starts sinking.
2. Calculated risk is better than blind luck
Is it risky for Playboy to stop doing the very thing it's known for? Maybe. But this decision is a calculated one for two reasons:
- Playboy stopped publishing nude photos online and its traffic went nuts.
- Longform journalism overall is on the rise.
Therefore, the decision last week by the magazine isn't one that is attempting to hit it big with a roll of the dice. It's a decision that is weighing trends and data and placing a smart bet when the odds are in its favor. As an entrepreneur, it's nice to get lucky. It's more likely - if you're smart - that you can make the right call if you pay attention enough.
3. Once you're not the only, you'd better be the best (and once you're not the best, you better find out where you can be)
Guess where you can look at naked pictures nowadays? Everywhere. Playboy no longer was the exclusive - or even best - way to find airbrushed images of models. Slowly, its stranglehold on the market diminished, and in its industry it would be tough to be the best at providing this. Therefore, it's taking the brand in a direction where it can succeed. Confronting these cold hard facts is key for any entrepreneur; and an honest reckoning of where it has a chance of being the best (content) can keep it afloat well into the future.
Let's face it: Playboy is just the latest old brand to try and head in a new direction. But, doing so is a smart play. No matter what you sell, if you think you can keep on getting by because you'll simply do what you've always done, then you're in for a surprise.
Industries, times, customers, and trends all change. And if you don't, then you'll be remembered as a brand that once was rather than a company that still is.