Breakthrough Innovation for Entrepreneurs and Brand Managers (How to Disrupt your Path to Mediocrity)
Why are retail stores a “sea of sameness” where in the mad scramble to be just a little better than the rest, no brand is really special? The harder we battle, like football players scrambling on the gridiron, the more we all look the same. Then comes price discounts and less funds for special promotions. Intense dedication to battle may cost us the war.
The customer is looking for a brand that is unique and offers new, unique value. Your packaging and promotional strategy then needs to help communicate and deliver that new value. Your packaging and displays can actually create new value in themselves. First of all, packaging can convey unique, new information and it disrupts shoppers established attitudes and habits – creating a new mindset. Getting attention is creating new value. Point of sale promotion creates new value even without unique messaging.
But creating new value is a creative exercise, something that many companies don’t take enough time to do. Under constant production, fulfillment and sales deadlines, they never foster the creative process to discover ways to create and deliver new value. Until they fail. Then they’ll have plenty of time. This so called wasted time is the time where you get on the same wavelength as your customer – that’s valuable.
Too many products/brands lack differentiation. It’s no wonder brand switching is so common and why new knock-off competitors can enter markets so easily.
Brands are always trying to beat the competition by adding incremental value, but is “improving battery life” enough to grab industry leadership? Duracell may last longer, but it’s not the best-selling battery. Entrepreneurs have to create alternate new value and communicate that new value in a unique fashion. Your messaging and packaging should communicate that new value. Just being different means nothing to the consumer – it’s the unique, new value that makes them buy your product.
Me Too Marketing – the Path to Mediocrity
Is “Me Too” marketing a slow-acting poison that lulls your brand into mediocrity? Are your promotional campaigns pushing you back into the pack?
Standardized packaging with standard looking print and graphics may erode the value of all your hard-earned work at creating differentiation. If you’re an ecommerce company using plain brown packaging without some special promotional print on the boxes or packaging, you’re missing out creating new value. If you just list the standard features and benefits in the same fashion as your competitors do on their packaging, you’re wasting an opportunity to create new value. Describe your benefits in new exciting ways – improve on your unique value proposition.
When everyone else is doing it, it’s not one of a kind anymore.
Sometimes, You’ve Got to Break Away from the Pack
Staying and competing with the pack (usually on price) may allay our insecurities for a short time, but inevitably we need to stand alone to win. The brand that breaks away from the pack and creates new value for consumers is one that establishes an insurmountable brand positioning. In fact, it’s the only way your brand can withstand an attack from the pack.
When you’re a little bit better at doing the same thing as everyone else, people still see you as common. You can’t build real brand value until you break clearly away from the pack. To create true brand differentiation, you must create new value – not just follow someone else’s approach or to look different. You have to question how your packaging and your POP strategy is creating new value.
Brainstorming for New Value
If you’re not a master at brainstorming already, you need to be. Even doing it once might awaken some non-linear thought processes, emotions, and brain areas that you’ve let lay dormant. That’s where you unlock tremendous creative power.
Brainstorming isn’t a one-time only process. It is changed by its own feedback and you’ll be ensuring that your new value ideas are well positioned to stimulate feedback from your staff and the public. You don’t ask, the ideas themselves will spawn the new revelations you need.
Brainstorming is typically a right-brained process and if you’re competitive you’re likely too dominated by left brain processes. The right side of the brain is associative and non-linear, just what’s need to create breakthrough ideas. You’ll need some new techniques to free up your mind. It’s time to get disruptive and open a new window.
First things to do: Go to Walmart, Loblaws, Home Depot, Best Buy, and then The Bay and walk around the store. Absorb the atmosphere. Then visit an array of boutique stores and compare their atmosphere to the big chains. The more time you take to do this, the more you get into the customer mindset. What in the store caught your attention and which products did you attend for more time? What was the most outlandish thing you saw? What did you want to buy? Was there an opportunity for your POP display in those stores? Building motivation.
Now back in the office, turn on some music and zoom out. All of this will stimulate the right brain and brain areas related to synthesis and problem solving, and put your mind into a flowing process. Go to Pinterest and look at pictures – graphics power up the right hemisphere. Go to your competitor’s page and look for all the weaknesses in their products and product benefits. Discredit and criticize them if you like. Now you’re getting further away from the status quo and stagnant mindset that blocks your path to creative new solutions.
Turn your product inside out, upside down, or how would it look if it was in the shape of another product?
Sit down and begin writing a flow chart style layout on a blank page, with your central concept right in the middle. From there, let the associations and issues flow outward. Put long arrows in between. You’ll begin to feel more flow in your thinking. Creative brainstorming isn’t a 15 minute exercise. You have to continue uninterrupted until you have brain parts continuously flowing, past self-consciousness, doubts, fears, and frustrations and stoppage caused by others. Marathon runners break through “the wall” at about 20 miles. The only thing stopping you from achieving maximum creativity is you (and perhaps your boss). Keep at it, you will break through and remember, nothing’s impossible:
Share your creative brainstorming processes with others below by commenting.
Having trouble trying to find the best packaging company for you? Read our tips. And read up on an innovative type of packaging called ready for retail packaging which is increasingly prefered by big box retailers. Having issues with Walmart’s sustainable packaging guidelines? Might be time to talk to Ravenshoe Packaging for options on secondary packaging.