Many factors have changed the way modern companies do business, forcing those that are serious about remaining viable to adapt or fail. Such factors as the shift to a sharing economy, the growing sense of social and environmental responsibility that’s spreading like wildfire among consumers, the explosion of mobile technology onto the marketing scene, and the Internet of Things—a phenomenon that isn’t simply affecting but is even further interconnecting everything—have changed the marketing landscape in ways that are difficult to fully fathom.
Everything from the way we communicate to the way we travel and where we stay while on the road, the way we buy products, read books, listen to music, and do our taxes has all changed—and in more cases than we may yet be aware, is still in the process of changing. In fact, most of these changes stem from modern innovations that were themselves the result of disruptive marketing strategies—a fact that leads us full-circle to the reality that merely adapting to changing conditions isn’t enough. Companies that hope to do more than simply survive must adopt a radically “disruptive” mindset.
The Move from Adapt or Die to Disrupt or Become Irrelevant
While adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace and a continuously evolving business landscape may be a crucial strategy for keeping your business from going under, it isn’t enough to ensure your company’s long-term success in the face of a wildly uncertain future and in light of the startling innovations many of your most savvy competitors are developing even as you sit here reading this sentence. The move from surviving to thriving—from just getting by to radically succeeding—takes generous doses of risk-tolerance, fearlessness, creativity, agility, flexibility, and innovation.
Market Disruption Principles
According to the experts, there are three basic ways to disrupt a market.
- Tap into an emerging market and change its trajectory.
- Meet the demands of a market that is unsatisfied with the status quo.
- Make a product or service more accessible to an existing market.
If you can manage to do any one of these with finesse, even as the “little guy” your outside-the-box thinking can help you out-innovate the innovators, effectively pulling the rug out from under your biggest, most powerful competitors.
Disruption Tactics & Strategies
Market disruption is not for the faint of heart. It takes guts, vision, creativity, and confidence. But, the rewards of success are exhilarating. If you’re serious enough about making it happen that the prospect excites passion in you, here’s what you need to do:
Revamp Your Business Model: Completely transform your current business model. Basically, this amounts to disrupting your own brand of “business as usual.” It also involves altering your team’s mindset, getting all your employees on the same page, and inspiring “buy-in” for the unorthodox methods your new business model will require for creating radical success.
Research the Market: Engage in extensive market research, product testing, and customer feedback assessment. That means assessing trends (or, ideally, sensing potential trends before they occur and helping to make them happen). Taking the pulse of the market and testing its “mood” can let you know what customers want or need … what they’ll appreciate, gravitate toward, and respond to.
Reimagine Your Product/Service: Rework your strategy, and redesign, repackage, and/or rebrand your product or service. This will require developing a completely new approach to everything you’ve done before. The focus is on major innovation. Determine your special strengths, unique offerings, and advantages so you can incorporate these into your market disruption strategy. What can you do better than your competitors can? What do you have to offer that they don’t? In what areas are you already ahead of the game? And how can you use these advantages to create a memorable and meaningful customer experience—one that will have customers flocking to you and away from your competitors? These are the magic ingredients that can help you disrupt a market.
Rethink Your Marketing: Revise and revitalize your marketing message. Try a totally different approach no one else has tried. Be daring. Be willing to take a risk—to engage in well-thought-out and carefully measured actions that might on the surface appear reckless. Use Story to capture the customer’s imagination. This is where customer engagement happens. Once you’ve hit upon the right message, you will effectively be able to change the consumer’s perception of your company, your product or service, and your brand—and in the best-case scenario, even alter the direction of your entire industry.
Apple is one solid example among many of a company that has fearlessly led the way to new levels of innovation by carefully assessing the capabilities of emerging technology and continuously looking ahead to brainstorm the next big thing that could be created and/or accomplished using those technological capabilities to their greatest advantage.
While not all its products have been disruptive, Apple has repeatedly disrupted markets with the innovative products it’s developed during the company’s four-decades-long evolution. After innovatively developing the first PC in 1977, Apple was itself disrupted by IBM in 1981 before the company began introducing a string of products that would, over the ensuing decades, improve affordability while advancing computing, mobile communication, music consumption, music purchase, television viewing, and multiple other aspects of technology.
Markets disrupted by Apple include the educational market (Apple IIe); the MP3 market (iPod); the downloadable music market (iTunes); the cell phone and PDA markets (iPhone and most of its newer gen models); the set-top box, or cable box, market (Apple TV); the net book, tablet, and e-book reader market (iPad); and even the health market—a New Market disruption—(Apple health apps).
It remains to be seen where Apple will go in the future in terms of market disruption. But, whatever the future holds, Apple has already provided many great examples that can inspire other companies and entrepreneurs to use their ingenuity in radical new ways to do what this classic innovator and market disrupter has done over and over for the better part of four decades.
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