Baked In

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Baked In

Creating Products and Businesses that market themselves (2009)
By Alex Bogusky and John Winsor

The old way of selling was to create safe, ordinary products and combine them with mass marketing. The new way is to create truly innovative products and build the marketing right in. One such example is Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad. Today, the product can and should be the center of the marketing conversation. The product will be your most powerful marketing tool.

 

28 Rules for Baking In :

1. Culture trumps influencers

Make a list of the cultural trends that influence your consumers’ behavior. Take your time; all of the items on the list will not be immediately apparent. Stay with it, and gradually you will observe more. Be a good observer, remove yourself from cultural perspective. Look for absurdities, the incongruities, the things that don’t necessarily make sense.

Find out what’s really beneath the existing trend. Example. Was it that NBA stars sold sneakers because they were in the NBA, or because they were famous basketball players? If it is the latter, then any famous basketball player can sell shoes. So let’s make somebody new famous. Let’s create the fame to create the sales.

 

2. Broaden your definition of design

Begin by thinking of yourself as a designer. Don’t just design what you see in your business. Design what you don’t see. Design for the change. Plot out your business for the next 10 years. For example if you have a product, and you know you will have to update it every 2 yeras, look at that cost as a whole, and begin to design a more flexible system that will allow you to make those changes better and cheaper.

Pay special attention to the stuff you would rather not think about it. The biggest opportunities lie here.

 

3. Recognize the artificiality of the corporation

Humanize your business. Imagine your competitive advantage if you were the only company in your space that could have the conversation with  customers that everybody else is afraid to have.

Progressive Insurance shows its customers all of its competitors’ insurance rates. It humanized the process and did something its competition would never do.

 

4. Get out of whatever business you think you’re in.

Start by writing down what business you thought you were in. Below it, write down all the services you provide people by being in the business you thought you were in (make sure to focus on the moments in your professional experience you’ve enjoyed the most). Finally, make a list of the emotional benefits you provide to your customers.

 

5. Understand both sides of your truth

Make a systematic plan to get to know your entire business category so well that you can identify the two sides to any truth. Draw a line down the center of a page. On the left side, begin a list of the truths surrounding your product and your industry. On the other side, write down all the ways in which you have seen the exact opposite to be true.

 

6. Get your hive on

Start by connecting departments. You can go beyond just email. Use instant messaging, and even social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The more communication, the better.

 

7. Knock down the walls

One great way to start knocking down the walls is to make other people look good. Learn how to listen better, and show more interest in what your colleagues have to say.

 

8. Become a silo jumper

Realize that the community around your products is bigger than your company. Think about how you relate to people outside your company. Invite people to participate by communicating openly; write a blog, publish articles, give speeches, and publish information about projects on resources. Focus on connecting and building the community.

 

9. Sacrifice and Simplify

Most of us are in the habit of thinking about new features we could or should add to those products. That’s the way most of us are used to thinking about innovation. Instead, think about what you could take away from your product. Make a list of your product’s features, according to their importance to the customer. Now cross off all but the top five. What would it mean to sacrifice the rest? Doe you product still work? Will it be better?

 

 10. Don’t put the word innovation on business cards.

 

11. Mind your history

Do you know your company’s founding story? Some are about the place. Some are about the iconoclastic found betting everything. These stories are always inspiring and can ground and clarify your thinking about the future.  Think about the best product your company ever produced. Tell that story. Share that stories, and explore what can you learn from them.

 

12. Feeling conflicted? Good.

Someone inside your company needs to be asking the biggest of questions. Like, does our core product really work? What would happen if we went in the exact opposite direction? What would happen if we tried to destroy ourselves?

There is a lot of power in conflict. Example Burger King focus on a segment of the fast-food market that unapologetically wants indulgent food, while the culture at large, is very concerned with fast food’s impact on health.

 

13. The All-Mighty Co-creator

Are your customers demanding more involvement in your brand and with your products? Are they talking about your products on blogs and other social media? Start answering questions about your products on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Ensure your website is more interactive, letting people leave comments on it, and make sure they’re answered.

 

14. Feel it in your bones

Making intuition a more powerful innovation tool comes with practice. Start by integrating design intuition into all of your decisions by starting off with the question, “What if… ?”  Help make sure people’s intuitive thinking is supported and not quashed by overanalysis. Be positive. Welcome heresy.

 

15. Steal to innovate

Steal good ideas. Make them relevant to your products. Nikon and Canon embraced the idea of replacing film with a digital camera to places Kodak could never go with its heritage in film.

 

16. Take a fearless approach

The old innovation expression, “fail fast” is more important than ever these days as our world speeds up.

 

17. Be a heretic

Being a heretic takes guts. It means not just going a different way from your competitors, but going a different way from the established norms within a whole culture. Could you take advantage of a disruptive technology that could, possibly change the new you do your core business or service? Learn the new technology, start applying it in small doses.

 

18. Think big. Then realize that’s not big enough.

First, you have to think big. Really big. Then you have to sit back and think of all the ways your thinking isn’t big enough. Shoot holes in it. Look at from an environmental point of view. Look at it from a need-based point of view.

 

19. Think small. Then realize that’s not small enough.

 

20. Stories worth spreading

People crave a human connection with the companies whose products they buy. A cornerstone of good branding is good storytelling – but it’s a two way street. Companies must constantly evolve their own story by listenting to and understanding their customer’s stories.

 

21. Differences have to look different

What’s so different about what you are doing? A unique and more sustainable manufacturing process? A different set of longer lasting material? Instead of just advertising the benefits, think about making the differences visible in your product design. If you do it right, not only will your products be more distinct but your competitors will also have a harder time copying them.

Think of iPod earbuds. The white cords are so synonymous with the iPod that whenever anyone is wearing a pair of white earbuds, we all just assume that they are carrying an iPod.

 

 22. A rose by any other name would not sell as sweetly

Think about your products. Is there a way to bake in names that mean something to the culture in which your products live?

 

23. The power of perfectly wrong

What happens if you did things wrong? You can design your product the wrong way, like the Uglydoll or have the wrong ingredients like Frutels.

 

24. Make your product talk

Do you use traditional media? Or is there a vibrant community of communicators inside your company? Think about how you might bake more media into your products.

 

25. The power of an absolute

Is there anything about your product that is absolute? Do you have any products that are the fastest? The slowest? The biggest? The smallest? The loudest? The quietest? What can you do to stake an “est”?

 

26. Make what’s inside visible on the outside

Make the invisible visible is a powerful way to bake marketing into your product. It could be literal, like the window Nike used to feature Air technology in the Air 180 running shoe. The key is is to make sure a big idea is baked into the product itself, and not just the packaging.

 

27. Design to your weakness, or hug the big hairy monster

What’s the big hairy monster in your category? Is it an aging population? Is it a new technology? or a new environment? For a long time, Cadillac was faced with the fact that most of its customers are dying. The key is to start a movement with momentum. Customers love it, when they see consistent behavior in the right direction, and they want to support companies that face up to their big hairy monsters.

 

 28. Tap the untapped

There are many passionate people who would love to help you improve your products and spread your marketing. It’s important to remember that this community thrives on open dialogue. Hence, the walls of your company have to become porous.

 

 

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