We’ve seen this scenario play out with companies and brands of all sizes – from enthusiastic entrepreneurs determined to make their start-up business the next “big thing” to household brands scratching their heads and wondering why their tried-and-true marketing tactics are suddenly stagnant. The truth is that brands and companies of all kinds are intent (and often hell bent!) on causing a disruption. Those doing it correctly love to boast about how they are “disrupting the industry” by blazing their own trails, redefining the rules or being so supremely innovative that all competitors are annoyed, scared to death, or struggling feverishly to keep up with the amazing “disruptions.”
At its core, causing a disruption in and of itself can be rewarding with short term or even long-term success. Many miserable boardroom and marketing meetings have been held to mull over hypothetical questions such as:
“Why can’t we design a car like Tesla?”
“We need to do every single thing that Vega is doing, from A to Z.”
“Why don’t we be like Patagonia and stop working with unethical companies?”
“Let’s be do-gooders and see if we an afford to donate a pair of shoes for every pair we sell, just like Toms!”
Sadly, these kinds of meetings are taking place while you are reading this sentence. The only problem is if your company’s think tank is truly devoid of original ideas, you are late to the party and unlikely to cause any sort of disruption. Someone else has already gone before you and beaten you to the punch. Someone else decided to either take a risk, run with a great idea instead of debating it for six months, or steal an original idea and make it so freaking better that no one would even recognize the original concept.
Welcome to America. And welcome to the ever-quickening pace of global business. And realize this is why it’s more difficult than ever to cause any sort of disruption.
As marketing and public relations professionals, we’ve been in the business of helping brands of all sizes make a difference, cut through the clutter, emerge as number one in the marketplace, and above all, cause a disruption. From experience we know it’s easier said than done because everyone is trying to cause a disruption! Hop on any social media platform for two minutes and you will be inundated with people screaming for attention. “Look at me! Look at what I’m wearing! Look at my makeup! Look at my hair! My car is the bomb! Check out my shoes! Try my smoothie! Buy my book! Order our products today!”
It’s no different than commercials on television, which are widely ignored or dismissed with the fast-forward button. Only those Super Bowl-worthy, drastically different, engaging or humorous ads or commercials are remembered. And only a handful or less are discussed at the water cooler the next morning.
But this blog is not about how you can be disruptive. We’ll have a lot more blogs and tips on that later. This one is about the fact that maybe you can’t be disruptive and why you’ll never be disruptive. From our experience with clients, it could be any number of reasons why you’re not going to make it, or perhaps you’re shooting yourself in the foot and inhibiting your own progress. Or maybe you could, in fact, be disruptive if you tweaked the myriad of problems in your infrastructure that prevent you from being a leader in your industry. The truth can be brutal and difficult to admit. So here’s the short list:
You dream of doing big, grandiose campaigns to make a splash, but have neither the budget nor the staff to execute the ideas
You’re just not cool enough. If your marketing and PR plans have been coasting along for years with the same old playbook and tactics, you’re probably not speaking to your current demographics in a way they will relate to your brand
You’re afraid to take risks or make mistakes. We could write an entire blog on this and maybe we will. But for now, we’ll just say that very few timid and meek individuals ever caused a disruption
Your brand is “behind the trend,” and may have launched a product a year or two after the first wave of excitement reached consumers. Unless your product is unique or a thousand times better than the rest of the pack, it’s tough to cause a disruption and all the best PR, marketing, influencers or social media efforts may not help you
Your infrastructure needs serious repairs. Without strong leaders and management, a clear business strategy, a solid marketing plan, a decent budget and a digital and social media presence, your changes of causing a disruption are slim to none
Fortunately, we have worked with or counseled all these types of clients. We have been able to help numerous brands of all sizes be successful, increase sales, increase brand awareness and cause a disruption to the point that everyone else is talking about them or wanting to mimic their success. For others, it’s often a matter of timing and realistically knowing there are basic, fundamental adjustments needed within the organization before they can achieve the rich rewards of being a disruptor. Our advice to such individuals and businesses is the old cliché that you really must walk before you can run. If your business is even at the point where you’re jogging, then it’s time to hire consultants or an agency to help you amplify your efforts. You already know that if you’re not causing a disruption, someone else in your industry is getting all the glory.