Disrupt or Destruct


It is common business adage that innovation and creativity are the ultimate drivers of growth. Ironically there is quite a gap from theory to practice. Notwithstanding the good intentions, the status quo persists as the common safe option. While we huff and puff to make incremental wins in our traditional markets, quite a few businesses do minimal progress in discovering new markets or creating new product/service categories.

At the end of the day who doesn’t fear failure? The safer route sort of seams ‘safe’ but nothing more than that. But should safety or survival purely be the measure of your success? Have you ever considered what might be your legacy after reaping the fruit of your endeavours? Do you want to make a difference or just be another operator?

History has taught us time and again that those who dared to think different and challenge the status quo modernised and conquered. From the first light bulb to automobiles to smart phones, many inventors were successful modernisers in making a difference in our day-to-day lives.

Make a difference and set your mark on the global community. Instigate that unique nudge of a behavioural shift. This is your opportunity to redefine your role in the bigger scheme of things and leave an everlasting legacy.

Every manager has to think about his/her competitors. But truly who is your competitor? Is it really your competition? Or is it the status quo? Is it really the competition that holds you back from coming up with better ways to satisfy customer needs? Or is it the status quo that truly holds back any business from going that extra mile in achieving excellence and leading the way?

From a marketing point of view, connecting with customers has become an increasing difficult task. Marketing effectiveness is decreasing and is no longer possible to get away with producing below par content with the expectation of tapping into the wallets of consumers. Either you succeed in engaging and inspiring your audience or purely be ignored and be flushed down in irrelevancy.

Disruptive marketing is becoming an increasing popular tactic in attempting in achieving the desired results. Disruptive marketing elicits a desired break in existing patterns of behaviour of the target consumer. Disruptive marketing is about relevance, engagement and reputation. Taking from Orwell’s Animal Farm, it is necessary not so much to work harder, but actually to work smarter.

Business need to be disruptive to challenge the status quo. Great businesses who are successful are those who constantly are in competition with themselves and not with their competitors. Businesses who dare to challenge themselves. Who dare to be different. Who dare to go that extra mile. Who dare to shatter the glass ceiling.

At the end of the day, with so many product and service options out there, how do you expect to be noticed? How do you expect potential customers to bother about what you have to say or offer? Do you really think that offering the best value for money will fast-track your success?

We are living in uncertain times. Purely it has always been that way. The only difference is that we are now operating in a global market which is digitally connected and has limited trade barriers. Consumers are more knowledgeable of what is available on the market. Access to information has never been more convenient. Products and services are more accessible nowadays hence making it swift and agile to tap into new and emerging markets.

Therefore if you do not disrupt the market somebody else will. A disruptive business has one of two goals. Either design its product or service to match the demand of an emerging market. Or re-shape an existing product or service to meet the demand of customers unsatisfied by the current offering.

Steve Jobs was the living carnation of disruptive tactics. He would brag in the few interviews he would accept that he never depended on market research or focus groups in creating new innovations. He was a firm believer that consumers did not know what they needed until they saw it. While market research can tell us what exists and how it can be possibly better, it does not tell us what can be invented.

Another great example of disruptive tactics is Tesla Motors. After making a fortune creating Paypal, which mind you was another disruptive innovation in online payments, Elon Musk got involved in creating Tesla Motors. Going against the established automobile manufacturers is no simple task but Tesla Motors is determined to take on the status quo and become the leader in electric cars. Not only that, but the company has recently repositioned itself as a leader of energy storage solutions.

Disruptive businesses are successful at creating new markets. Firstly by having the vision to see new market opportunities. Secondly and most importantly to have the determination to engage and act to fulfil their vision. Tesla for example is taking on the automobile manufacturers and energy providers in harnessing natural energy like sun, wind, and sea and storing it in battery packs for consumption by vehicles and homes. If they succeed it will certainly be one of the biggest energy advances since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

Today consumers drive a market, not just the business. Therefore companies must tap into the mood of the market and deliver what consumers want. This is where disruptive marketing takes its cue. From a marketing point of view advertising campaigns with disruptive messages that either challenge the conventional thinking in an existing market or speak to a new one.

The two main reasons for using disruptive marketing are to attract attention to a cause, a product or service and change people’s ideas of what to expect from a brand or product. Everybody loves an underdog. The only problem is too many pretend to be one. Therefore you need to ensure that your cause is authentic and you are committed to deliver the desired solution. Blow it once and welcome to the road to irrelevancy.

The marketing function is experiencing quite a transformation. Organisations need to be marketing-oriented by placing the marketing function central to the decision-making process. Marketing will have to forge the assertiveness of market intelligence and combat the discomfort and uncertainty of the market environment. There is no escape from this. Keeping customer needs is essential in being possible to swiftly adapt by competing through disrupting.

Applying orthodox, incrementally focused marketing techniques will only ensure classic see-act-launch failures. The challenge for marketing is to go from description and analysis of end-user requirements, to developing market insights concerning expectations. Anticipation rather than reaction. Prevention rather than cure.

Marketing must get involved in the creation of new concepts and radical innovations. Remember that marketing is much more than promotion and communication. It is a primary function that should create and win new markets.