I took a quick, very unscientific survey recently. It was a one question survey: When you think of Walmart, do you think of innovation? 100% of the answers were the same… “no”. Walmart is just a big ol’ store with lots of stuff at low prices. No innovation, right? Think again.
There’s an unwritten rule in every industry that says “We all go to market the same way.” It’s a dumb rule and I’ve been preaching against it for 35 years. I wish I could say I wrote the book on the subject, but Marty Neumeier beat me to it. More on that in a moment. (more…)
When I discuss Marketing Innovation, one-on-one or with a group of 250, I always tell the story of the drill bit. It goes like this: You walk into Lowe’s to get a half inch drill bit. Six dollars later, you have your drill bit. But you didn’t go to Lowe’s because you wanted to add to your drill bit collection. You went because you wanted a half inch hole. It’s the hole that was worth $6. The bit was just a means to an end. (more…)
Last month, we conducted a ReVision for a Cleveland company that came to us with a serious problem. In our PreView, we worked through the problem and, in less than an hour, we had two very good solutions. We all felt good about both options and resolved to carry those into the ReVision session the next day. Clearly, it was going to be a short session. After all, we had solved the problem, right? READ MORE
A couple of months ago, I introduced you to Poppi, our six year old YorkiePoo. Today, we say goodbye to Poppi. We lost our little Poppi dog last week in one of those freak accidents that makes you wonder how the earth manages to turn on its axis and how we keep from spinning off into space. It was sudden, it was tragic, and it made us want to pause the world. (more…)
Last Saturday, I jumped in the truck, turned on the radio, and there he was… the local DJ with the used car dealer urging me to “Come on down right now for free pizza, a chance to spin the wheel, and drive away in a certified preowned, like-new car with zero down and no interest… ” I had to laugh.
You know the routine. You’ve heard it. Maybe you even responded to it. But did you really buy a car because there was free pizza? Did you really believe today’s offer was a “once in a lifetime” deal?
No. You bought the car because you needed a car and you found the car you liked at the price you found reasonable. The advertising just happened to connect with you at the same time you had a need or interest.
This is where so many marketers get lost. They confuse communication with selling and adopt a “used car salesman” approach to their communication. It’s dangerous territory. When you communicate “buy now”… especially on a major purchase… you diminish the value of your product or service and, more importantly, you insult your potential customer.
To start with, people are not stupid. If you assume they are, you will treat them that way and they will know it. On the other hand, if you treat them with respect, they will respond with respect. Your message IS your brand, so choose your message carefully. You don’t have to tell people to “buy now”, “call today” or “apply now”. The more you do, the more you act like a commodity. The more you act like a commodity, the less respect your brand receives in the marketplace.
The used car salesman has an image because he acts like a used car salesman. Don’t be that guy.
Carney & Co and Marketing Innovation
We use a powerful, unique ReVision™ process to uncover innovation, generate bigger ideas, and produce better results for our clients.
Learn more at www.carneyco.com.
When we ReVision a client, we start the day with a few simple rules that begin with “Leave your ‘buts’ at the door”. You know the “but” people. They follow every new idea with a “but”. “But we tried that.” “But we can’t afford that.” “But we’ve never done that before!” (more…)
I just heard a public service announcement for the Highway Patrol. You’ve heard it before – “This is trooper B. R. Jones reminding you that speed kills. Slow down this holiday weekend. Yadda, yadda.
Anyone that has driven on Germany’s autobahn can tell you that speed is not the enemy. When you are driving along at 130-140 kph and an Audi zooms by you like you’re sitting still, you get a whole new appreciation for “speed” and you totally understand it is NOT speed that kills. The statistics prove it: Germany’s fatality rate is nearly half that of the U.S.
It’s not complicated. When you’re driving with your knees while holding a coffee cup in one hand and a donut in the other while talking on you bluetooth and answering texts, sooner or later, you’re gonna die. In Germany, it is illegal to even use a cell phone while driving, but I promise you, when you are on the autobahn, you are focused on one thing and one thing only…driving. It’s a matter of self preservation. You take your eyes off the road for a millisecond and you are in trouble. In reality, increased speed results in better driving. It’s distractions, lack of concentration, apathy and downright stupidity that kills, and that is the problem officer Jones should be discussing.
But that’s not really the point of this blog post.
It is this kind of (speed kills) thinking that kills innovation. Conventional wisdom says it’s not “logical” or “practical” to do something, and we immediately drop an otherwise great idea and miss an opportunity to solve a problem or create something new. It’s only when we question the status quo that we create. It’s only when we embrace counter-intuitive thinking that we open doors. Next time you hear something that sounds like conventional thinking, challenge it. You’ll be amazed what you will find.
It’s clear. A company needs a vision. It has to know where it’s going, why it’s going, and it needs a plan to get there. Without purpose and passion though, a vision is just words on paper…a body without a soul. This is what separates the great companies from the good ones.
JohnDeere was a blacksmith in the 1830s and he built a new kind of plow to help the local farmers cut through the soil better. He envisioned a company that would supply midwestern farmers with reliable, affordable equipment. That simple vision was backed up by a passion for excellence that has driven his company for over 185 years. Reliability is so completely ingrained in the company and its culture, that no one questions the statement “nothing runs like a deere” because nothing does.
While Steve Jobs has been hailed as the greatest visionary of our times, it was his passion not his vision that made Apple the number one brand in the world. He was determined to build “insanely great products” and his never ending search for the next great product drove him and the company to greatness.
Though separated by 150 years, Deere and Jobs had a lot in common. While their competitors were busy copying their ideas and building tractors and computers, Deere and Jobs were busy looking for better solutions to their customers problems.
That’s what innovators do. They are never satisfied with just building more stuff or making more money. The focus is always on the customer, the customer’s needs and solving the next big problem…passionately.