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I love Bose. The company produces amazing sound and long ago set the standard for innovation and quality in the world of audio. I love my Wave Radio so much I sent Paul Harvey a letter about it. He read it on his show for over three years.

So when it came time to replace my surround sound system with a sound bar, I naturally wanted a Bose Sound Bar.

I got one, installed it and, of course, loved the sound. The problem was to play music, I had to have my TV on. So, I looked for other options and found my way eventually to Sonos. The Sonos system does NOT sound as good as Bose, but I’m the only one in the house that knows that. Sonos has developed an interface, however that is easy to use, works from my iPhone and iPad, and allows me infinite control over each component without engaging my TV. I am confident Bose is working on a similar system. Unfortunately, it’s too late for me. I have moved on. That’s the way of the world today. When we want it, we want it now. For today, Sonos innovation beats Bose brand. The ball is now in Bose’s court. Meanwhile, their brand and sales are taking the hit.

 

Yes or no decision

Marketing is not just about growing. It is also about choice. Sure you want to give your customers choices, but you also want to be able to choose your customers. If you have a steady flow of inquiries and leads, you have more control over the kind of business you take. This is especially true for B2B companies, but it also applies to B2C. Retail and consumer marketers discriminate with price and distribution. Business to business marketers can discriminate with price, type of project, and by sometimes just saying, “No, we don’t think this would be a good fit.”

You can only say “no,” though, when you have options, and the best way to have options is by keeping your message in front of your customers and prospects. This is why the best companies never let their foot off the gas of their marketing or their innovation. Innovation gives you a reason to market and a message that connects. Marketing that innovation communicates value and distinction. When you have that, you can say “yes” to the customers and business that you really want and “no” to the business that isn’t profitable or otherwise doesn’t fit.

Innovation is the buzzword of the century and, while it is laudable to want to be like Apple or Amazon, it’s hardly necessary to reinvent your industry to find success. It IS necessary to market innovation.

Why marketing innovation works.

Simply put, innovation is a creative solution to a customer problem. Big problems, little problems, everybody has them and they all need solutions. Every business is capable of this kind of innovation and most are innovating every day. They just fail to realize or act on that innovation and most importantly, they fail to market it.

Market innovation to cut through the clutter.

Innovation is not as elusive as you might think.

 

Customers want more than just solutions to their problems, they want NEW solutions. They will ALWAYS want new solutions. Tide laundry detergent has been “new and improved” more than 80 times in the past 75 years. Most of those innovations were not earth shattering, but they were significant enough that Tide has maintained its dominance in its category. Look around your company. You have innovation opportunities everywhere. Solve your customers’ problems and then tell them about it. Your brand, market share, sales growth, and profit margin will all follow.

It happens to just about every company.

Southwest-Airlines-logoThey start off all quirky and fun. Ready to take risks, to be themselves without taking themselves too seriously. Then, all of a sudden (it seems) they hit the big time and they get all serious and busyness-like. Before you know it, you hardly know them at all and you start to drift apart.

Please tell me, Mr. and Mrs. Southwest Airlines, that you won’t let this happen to you.

I remember my first Southwest experience. I’ll bet you do, too. The people were genuinely nice. Genuinely “genuine”. They sang. They told stupid jokes and very punny puns. It was so weird. I loved it. I’ve noticed recently, though, that the quirkiness is gone. Along with the perkiness. Even their advertising has taken a more serious tone.

I asked a flight attendant “Why don’t you sing anymore?” She said,”You need to write to management. They want us to stop that kind of thing. I miss it.”

Me too.

Great brands never forget their customers or how they got them in the first place.

I was flying cross country recently and, scrolling through my iPod for something to help pass the time, I settled on the Dixie Chicks catalog. The first three albums, that is. The ones before they forgot their mission, abandoned their fans, and destroyed their brand.

Yes, even country music singers have a brand, and just like Proctor and Gamble, McDonalds, and your local mechanic, they must protect and nurture that brand or, like the Chicks, go the way of the Dodo birds. The music in the early days was pure, simple and all about ME. I could relate to it. I, like millions of others, understood the joy, pain, irony, and humor in that early music.

After they lost their way, the music became all about THEM. Songs about how mad they were, about how sad they were. All about THEM.

This is why you can only hear the Dixie Chicks on your iPod now and why there will never be another Dixie Chicks album that matters. It is not because they said something stupid in England. It is because they forgot why we liked them in the first place. They forgot their brand.

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