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Disruption Marketing

How Brands Must Pivot In The Age Of Disruption


Disruption Brutally Exposes Brand Weakness

Everything is undergoing disruption these days. So much so, that I hate that word and I don’t want to use it anymore. Last week during the United States Presidential election we learned a few things that should remind us as marketers that just because something worked in 2008 doesn’t mean it will work in 2016.

In fact, what works right now will probably not work next month. We constantly must be ready to pivot in our world of transience based on both customer behavior and world context.

So what are the best ways to do this? Here are three.

1. Conversational Listening With Emotional Response. Being able to hear from your customers or constituents is so key in a world where both your power customers and your most disgruntled customers are the best to inform on how they use your products, services and solutions or what those solutions are lacking and why they feel upset about it. I feel now in life that the Steve Jobs personality, “We know what is best in terms of innovation for our customers” is a tired and smug view of the world. Why? Because if you don’t listen, you don’t know how people use things. A response where you feel you know best also is not a way to drive emotions. As marketers, our biggest jobs now are understanding sentiment through understanding and collaborating with people to create emotional bonds. If you can do this, you can take information out of your feedback loop and into product development faster than competition. This is where true innovation lies. We also must remember people like change. So, while you don’t have to implode your offerings and recreate them all the time, customers expect you to improve them and improve them often based on their conversations with you.

2. Constant, Always On, Relationship Building. How many times do you reach out to customers out of the blue to see how they are doing outside of when they have an issue? This is a cold contrast to just advertising to your customers. Brands that can connect both functionally and emotionally with an audience have the most to gain. If you keep those partnerships open, when you do offer good products, those partners will tell others about what you are doing. They will sell your product for you. This goes back to point one that advertising has to set a narrative from brand to customer. But relationship building sets a dialog that becomes shared by all those who are vested in your success.

3. The Network Effect Cannot Be Ignored. It is so important to understand that the hierarchical ladder is being burned to the ground both in politics, media and business. Those brands who wait and say, “But our Vice President of Communications must issue the statement” move slower than a social employee advocate driven organization that uses a social network business model. Not many customers like celebrities anymore either because they can’t relate to them. But their friends? There is a reason water cooler talk still works. Except now we’ve moved it online. The traditional way that institutions operated no longer are being accepted by many customer or employees. We are moving toward an anti-organization, anti-institution age. This is both good and bad. Good in that the process becomes more democratized, bad in that if your brand isn’t set up to work in this matrixed model, you don’t have a lot of time to adapt. Social networks like LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram and more are the connective tissue to customers now and press releases, big media announcements and celebrity endorsements are met with skepticism. Your best advocates are your customers and your employees. Don’t overlook that.

Learn how to keep your brand relevant in the 21st Century in my new book Disruptive Marketing.

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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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