Interrupt the norm with disruptive marketing

By Nancy Garberson / Guest Column

Did the world really need another ice chest? Apparently it did because two brothers turned a $300 cooler into a $450 million trendy brand because they wanted a functional ice chest they could stand on when they went fishing.

People are still finding ways to put a new twist on an old concept. Watch a video about the Yeti Tundra ice chest ( and you’ll see their differentiation, making an old concept new again.

Under Armour, a relatively new company, has been able to enter the established market of athletic wear and make an immediate impact. In 2016, it has plans to open 200 stores – a mixture of store types, including outlet locations, “Brand House” stores (the company’s full-price, experiential format) and in-store shops, according to The Street. That’s a company that took on established brand names and won.

Organizations have “lifecycles,” the metaphor in marketing describing the birth, evolution and duration of a product in the marketplace. Just like people, a product is born, ages and can die if not improved or rejuvenated. But some companies are entering into a “mature” market with just a new twist, and remaking a brand to stay trendy and popular.

Products can get a facelift, even plastic surgery, when they hit the decline stage. It’s a responsibility upon the organization to notice market opportunities and make judgments. So why didn’t the ice chest market see the Yeti idea and jump into that space?

Nike, another athletic company, has remade products to keep up with changing needs, while other brands have come and gone without us even noticing. The weaker groups, or those reluctant to change and disrupt with great marketing and concepts, fall out of the marketplace.

The best scenario is when an organization decides to rejuvenate the original appeal. The product is refurbished to have new benefits and new marketing with innovative charm, and disrupts the competition in the marketplace with exciting new features and demand!

Traditional marketing is always crucial, but new ways of looking at a product or organization is beneficial to prepare it for new generations, new markets and fresh demand. Companies develop products or services and then implement strategies to help attract new customers to their business. With the Internet there are so many ways to target specific audiences with non-traditional approaches. Companies like Coca-Cola, Tide and Holiday Inn have found ways to not just stay alive, but remake themselves for extended life.

Times change, new techniques are available, and disruptive techniques make an impact. Today’s consumers drive a market, not just a business. Therefore, companies must tap into a market’s frame of mind and provide what consumers want. This is where disruptive marketing takes its signal to know where to be and when.

What is disruptive marketing?
Most companies still tend to market through traditional means, which provide plenty of opportunities for rival companies to disrupt current messages. Thanks to an increasingly crowded market, consumers have become stubbornly resilient to messages.

Maybe it’s our attention span, our loyalty to one brand, or whatever, we may not even notice a brand that does the same thing over and over again in the market. To fight it, a company’s product or service must innovate and pay attention to consumers – even their current customers – delivering exactly what they want, in a way that reaches them and in a way that can’t be matched by others.

Sometimes it’s a new way of sharing a story about an organization, looking at the product from a new angle, or feeling an emotion about content written about the organization or product. What is the best way to entertain the potential buyer? How do people see and trust? Is there a new way to engage, communicate and respond to customer needs? Can we educate them at the same time? How can they feel a deeper commitment to us as a company?

Brands need to cultivate innovative ways to share familiarity in real time. Reports, white papers and research papers take a while to produce. Is there a faster, more efficient way to show your product or service? Since attention spans are short, what can you do that would appeal?

The story is everywhere, yet as marketers we are designing the story for each individual channel with conversions, by making a connection – a truly human association – where possible.

Nancy Garberson is the owner of Marketing & Strategic Communication Strategies Inc., in Cedar Rapids, and an adjunct professor at Mt. Mercy University, teaching managerial marketing in its MBA and Master of Strategic Leadership programs.