In our sound-bite world, buzzwords frequently dominate professional landscapes. In fact, the concept of ‘buzz’ was itself once a buzzword. Today, we talk about end users, target audiences, and how to disrupt things.
Disruptive marketing is a concept you’ve probably come across; it’s a buzz idea these days, and it’s not hard to find articles on it, on how to do it, on which great ideas in marketing history were disruptive and which were not (hint – it’s not always the new technology; automobiles were not disruptive, but Henry Ford’s application of the assembly line to reduce prices was). Too many articles on the subject use too many words; the idea is simple, however: disruptive marketing introduces a new concept – or turns around an old concept – to make people see the market in a new way.
Three trends that have come to dominate marketing recently are generally seen as “disruptive” in the way they force us to think and to relate to customers. They are: focusing on the brand purpose; engaging emotions; and selling through storytelling. By changing the process of salesmanship, they have the potential to disrupt markets.
The Questions You Should Be Asking
And now forget all of what you just read – every bit of it. Was it all true? Yes. Can it help you analyze a marketing plan? Of course. Will it help you to disrupt the marketing environment in which you operate? Get real – there’s no way to predict that! Do you think that Henry Ford knew he was turning the car market upside down when started building Model T’s on the assembly line? He had an inkling, but nothing more. He just figured that he was trying to open a new market segment – people of moderate income – to boost his sales.
If you want to disrupt a market, you need to make a habit of asking two questions.
First, ask, “Why?”
And then ask, “Why not?”
Toyota wasn’t Always Staid
In the early 1980s, when the Japanese auto makers were breaking into the American market, their basic plan was simple. They reasoned that since Americans loved their big cars and familiar nameplates, the Japanese would have to find something qualitatively different about their small cars to make them desirable. They chose to use quality – they built their cars to last, and then they offered the best warranty in the markets to back them up. They knew that no American car maker would – or even could – match a 70,000 or 100,000 mile warranty. The construction quality just wasn’t there.
In improving their construction methods, engineers at Toyota began using a process they called “5 Whys.” If any problem occurred, they asked “Why did this happen?” It generally took about 5 iterations of the question to hit the real cause.
“Why?” is the question you should ask, whenever you start a marketing plan. Why are we targeting this segment? Why are we writing the ad this way? Whatever you do, ask why. And then keep asking why, until you’ve gotten to the root of your idea. The process is a method of working to an answer.
Really Shake it Up
But if you really aim to disrupt a market, there’s a better question to ask. Paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw, dream things that never were, and ask “Why not?” When you start a campaign, ask that at every step. Where “Why” makes you think of an answer, “Why not” challenges you to probe – and prove – your assumptions. New ideas won’t come out of the blue; you have to work for them.
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/toyota-c-hr-hybrid-2897313/