A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a documentary about the 1980s. Part of the documentary included a story about New Coke. In 1985, Coca-Cola tried a new formula with a sweeter taste. Market research showed the New Coke taste was more appealing than the old formula, and early sales were solid.

But, to make a long story short, the company eventually received tremendous backlash, and put the old formula back on the market, labelling it Coca-Cola “Classic.” After the old formula hit the shelves, stock prices and sales soared.

I took a few lessons away from this story.

First, don’t be afraid to try something new. You may have an approach to something that works well, but don’t become complacent with it because a tweak here and there can make it work better.

Second, it’s great to want to appeal to new customers but don’t forget your loyal customers. Isn’t it irritating when companies you have been a loyal customer of offer new customer discounts, but don’t offer any type of loyalty discount?

Third, even though all your background research shows a change is a good idea, it still may fail, just like New Coke. When it’s clear the change is not going to work, there’s nothing wrong with going back to the old way of doing things. The longer you try to make a bad idea a good one, the more frustrated everyone becomes. I know it’s tough to admit failure when people follow you as a leader, but it’s not as bad as letting a bad idea continue.

Finally, by experimenting with New Coke, it made customers appreciate the old product more. Sometimes our mistakes, if handled correctly, can shine a light on what we do well.

When it’s clear the change is not going to work, there’s nothing wrong with going back to the old way of doing things.
New voices.

Speaking of changes, we have a few here at Lawn & Landscape. Starting this month, we have welcomed the Harvest Group on board as a panel of rotating columnists. Instead of having one voice in that space, now all seven who comprise the Harvest Group will weigh in on their specific areas of expertise. Also, Marty Grunder will no longer be writing for Lawn & Landscape. We thank Marty for his years of monthly columns.

Additionally, we’ve tweaked Bruce Wilson’s column. Like the Harvest Group, Bruce’s spot will become a column that will rotate monthly among those at Bruce Wilson & Company. Jim Huston will continue to provide insight from his years in the business, and we are excited to see what Jim has in store for the future.

We will continue to change aspects of the magazine as needed with the main goal of providing you with the best content possible to better your business.

Hopefully you’ll like our changes better than the public liked New Coke. – Brian Horn