Greed is Back

“Greed is good.” So said Gordon Gekko said in the 1987 hit film Wall Street.  Well, hang on, because this April, greed is back is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Some people might cringe when they read that – or if they’ve seen the preview.  I’ve already heard more than a few of my friends say, “Wall Street is too classic of a movie to try and make a sequel to.  Why ruin a good thing?”

Think about the last sequel you saw that was better than the original.  And I’m not just talking about movies and television spin-offs.  Has Hidden Valley’s Ranch with Bacon seen better sales than it’s Original Ranch?  What about Pepsi Blue – anyone remember that stuff?  I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of examples of products that just can’t perform at the level of their parent products.  But for, today, let’s focus on the entertainment industry and Wall Street 2.

The reason companies follow up with products is as simple as Gordon Gekko puts it: Greed is good.  So that might be a little cynical, but there’s a little bit of truth to that.  New products are introduced in the hopes of generating new revenues and new profit.  Where there’s a customer to serve, there should be a product.  Companies stay alive by continuing to innovate and introduce new products.  But why risk so much on something completely new when you can mitigate risk by introducing an incremental innovation?  Hence the bacon flavored ranch; hence Wall Street 2.  There are proven markets for these products and it makes sense to try and expand revenue flows by changing the product slightly.

Small businesses should do this too.  Since few companies are ever one-hit wonders, innovation is key to success.  And for small businesses that can’t afford to sink huge sums of profits into R&D, it can be very strategic to simply improve an existing product or service.  However, it can be detrimental to your brand to rely solely on this strategy (Pirates of the Caribbean 4 anyone?).  By trying to be everything to everyone, you dilute your brand and risk being nothing to nobody.  Like most things in business (and life), it’s about finding a good balance between not ruining the classic (remember why it’s called Coke Classic now?) and continuing to innovate and serve a market that’s profitable.  It’s making Wall Street 2 without ruining Wall Street.

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