Turf Talk Redux: Looking for the Future in Companies, People, and Products

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I like to be a little out in front of things. Not too far (hyperloops) and not too close (digital couponing).

In my writing about local marketing and media (both here at Street Fight, and previously), I’ve generally been most comfortable investigating advancements that attempt to intersect the possible and the inevitable. For instance: the early movement of delivering value passively to mobile users  and the dawn of the modern on-demand consumer services era several years back. Both of these represent that sweet spot of what I believe to be coming imbued a dash of “could this really be possible?”

Sometimes I’m a little off or a bit kooky, but I’m forever seeking what will make for interesting companies, products and their creators in an effort to point toward what’s coming so readers might take action in time to gain an advantage. I’ve covered the use of lights to drive wireless wayfinding for consumers in grocery stores and the advent of mobile+location ad targeting (and its failures) before it became standard. I looked at how micro-local content generation (your neighbors blogging about who’s doing what in the neighborhood) might be the next natural step in content creation, and a target for marketing… and, in many dispatches, how Aol’s Patch did some of that well and some of it poorly.

I’ve interviewed Ted Leonsis about the social-local-mobile trifecta for product development, Jim Brady on the future of local news and Rob Matthews of AirRun about how to get random people to do your bidding (e.g. pick up a pizza for you).

And so as I rev this column back up after a few years of hiatus, it’s fair to say my focus will still range from talking to publishers of media conglomerates to looking back for clues to the future to treading out on a limb with promises of what’s next… It’s likely I’ll spend more time than in past talking directly to company leaders to get a sense of where they think things are going, in the context of their product but also in contrast to competition. And I’d like to try bringing in multiple voices allowing several leaders exchange opinions.

At the same time, I’m going to be looking to offer ideas that are actionable — something you might take with you to your next planning meeting and say, “Hey, here’s where we need to be putting efforts, folks…” If I can accomplish that, I’ll have succeeded. And I’m going to try integrating more reader voices into the column. Rather than questions floating around below the pieces it might be nice to bring them into the fold after publishing. We’ll see how that goes.

So, entrepreneurs out there: ping me if you think you’ve got an interesting new take on an old problem, or working on something completely new that will change the way we all do business. You can reach me anytime at [email protected].

(P.S. – I should note that as cofounder of an on-demand services startup — one of the pioneers I’m proud to say — I’ll necessarily be steering away from writing about competitors, just to keep things clean.)

RickRRick Robinson is SVP of Product for on-demand roadside assistance startup Urgent.ly. He is also an advisor to Street Fight. Follow him at @itsrickrobinson