Advice:Be Different: Be Disruptive and Make Money

By , published on 24th July 2012

Being disruptive pays. Following the pack does not. At least not for most people.

Most marketing activity interrupts. It interrupts evenings in front of the TV, reading the newspaper, walking down the street. However, the interruptions get less effective as the consumer becomes immune to the endless messages.

Marketing has to get louder to continue to interrupt

Advertisers have to shock or surprise the consumer in a bid to have their full attention – but this is just a ‘louder’ form of interruption: louder TV ads, brighter colours, larger typefaces. Just because the consumer can’t avoid seeing or hearing a promotion doesn’t necessarily mean that it engages the consumer’s attention.

The ‘guerrilla marketing’ school of thought looks for devious ways of going under the radar, of reaching the consumer in ways that the competition has not thought of. This is relatively disruptive – it seeks to ‘bend the rules’ to do things differently, to get noticed. It messes with the rules of engagement.

Being Disruptive?

Disruption means the act of breaking the regular flow or continuity of something; disturbance; dislocation, especially an event resulting in dislocation or discontinuity.

So, to be disruptive you should shake up the market. It is not disruptive if no-one notices.

Disruptive Businesses

Starbucks – was a disruptor as it changed the habits of a generation (as did FaceBook, Google and so on). But what is new today becomes old tomorrow. Today’s revolutionaries are tomorrow’s Old Guard.

Whole Foods Market – all wholefood stores are (or rather, were) small, local affairs then along comes the real deal (in the same vein as Virgin Megastores)

The Flip Phone – as brainless as a video can be, and cheap, and high definition, and plugs into YouTube. Who would have thought of that?

A great disruptor doesn’t just do more than interrupt; it can change the face of the landscape.

The small record shops were pretty much destroyed by the arrival of the Virgin-type megastores, Starbucks changed how and where we socialise, Amazon…. So while we can quote the big disruptors I think that we can all disrupt if only on a smaller stage.

Dans Le Noir restaurant, where you are served by blind waiting staff in a pitch black room, is wonderfully disruptive. It disrupts every part of the standard process we call going to a restaurant. You don’t know where you are or what you are eating. You are lost. A truly memorable experience. Unforgettable. Changes how guests see food forever.

And then we have ‘Disruptive Marketing’

What I am calling ‘disruptive marketing’ is when we disrupt how things are done in the marketing world. We do things differently from the rest and so we stand out. But this is not about creating some cheap gimmick but actually challenging the way things are currently done and doing them differently.

Pretty much everything that Apple does is disruptive. And Innocent Drinks.

Hobbs House Bakery sells very expensive (and wonderfully delicious) bread on the internet – no-one else did it before and why not?

You can zig when they zag. Go against the traffic. Challenge the notion of “that’s how we do it around here”, a myth perpetuated by the majority who have lost the passion and excitement to try to create newer and better ways of doing things. Get innovative in every possible part of the process. Get noticed (but not for a gimmick but because you see a different world.)

Looking at your industry, what could be improved to give the client a significantly better deal? You could deliver quicker or higher quality or cheaper. But what would be disruptive?

Depending on your marketplace, think what would happen if you:

  • Charged by ‘results only’
  • Let customers decide what to pay
  • Only work online or by phone
  • Charged per 5 minute slots…

I am sure you get where I am coming from.

Being disruptive certainly creates attention. Challenging the status quo normally does. In business this is a good thing. You get noticed. But a gimmick will be seen for what it is. To disrupt effectively, change how people buy and give them the service they really deserve. No easy task.

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Robert Craven

About Robert Craven

Robert Craven shows MDs and owners how to grow their sales and profits and focuses on how to do this in recessionary times. His latest book is the runaway success “Beating the Credit Crunch – survive and thrive in the current recession” He is a keynote speaker and the author of business best-seller ‘Kick-Start Your Business’ (foreword by Sir Richard Branson) and runs The Directors’ Centre, helping growing businesses to grow. For further information, contact Robert Craven on 01225 851044 [email protected]

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