Word of Mouth Marketing Archive
The “Ballbarrow” was never really a product destined for greatness.
Replacing a wheel in a traditional wheelbarrow with a ball hardly qualifies as a groundbreaking technological innovation. But it does solve a problem. Great inventions usually do. And when James Dyson first created and produced his Ballbarrow, it was a hit with gardeners seeking an alternative that wouldn’t leave wheel shaped trenches in their garden. The problem with the Ballbarrow was that it was too easy to copy … and competitors did.
Today, Dyson can look back on that failure as a learning moment – and often talks about it during interviews as a moment when we realized the importance of protecting your ideas from all imitators. By all accounts, that strategy has worked for Dyson. Last year the company beat out hundred year old competitor Hoover to become the top selling upright vacuum cleaner brand in the US with nearly 27% market share.
For a global company with thousands of employees, one of the biggest long term challenges is keep the spirit of invention alive. It is a challenge that lots of brands share. How do you motivate people to continue coming up with new ideas and owning them? One of the fascinating facts about Dyson is that the company doesn’t employ technicians. Instead it relies on its engineers and scientists to actually go out and build prototypes of the ideas they come up with. The lesson in that simple choice is profound if you consider how rare it actually is.
How often do the people around you spend trying to define what is part of their job and what isn’t?
In this world of micro-expertise, the common advice seems to be to grab your own corner of the landscape and add that skill to your virtual utility belt of platforms you know how to use. Want to improve your job security for the future? Just become the Twitter Vine expert within your company, or learn how to market on Pinterest.
Dyson doesn’t celebrate micro-expertise. Instead, they work hard to “try and make the corporation like a garage,” as Dyson shared recently in an interview in WIRED magazine. “If you merely hand a drawing to somebody and say, ‘would you make this please?’ … you’re not experiencing it. You’re not understanding it. You’re not feeling it. Our engineers and scientists love doing that.”
For a brand that has become synonymous with innovation, it may be surprising to realize that Dyson is not a company powered by ideas at all.
Instead, it is powered by a culture of execution of ideas inspired by the legendary story of Dyson’s 5,127 failed prototypes for his billion dollar vacuum design. Each failure was a lesson Dyson himself learned personally. And his example offers an important reminder that true innovation doesn’t usually happen by committee.
Sometimes instead of finding new ways to collaborate, the best results depend on getting your hands dirty and doing the work yourself.
TurboTax is like the financial equivalent of anesthesia before a surgery … you know you are about to do something painful, but at least you can suffer a bit less. Yesterday was tax day in America, and for millions of users of the most popular tax software – it was a little easier to get this necessary chore out of the…Read More >>
Imagine you’re a chef. You have spent the last twenty years learning your craft. Studying ingredients and cooking techniques. Working for sometimes maladjusted and dictatorial restaurant owners or lead chefs. And now you’ve made it. You have your own kitchen that you lead – and you’re recognized. Your food has made it onto the plates of celebrities and maybe even…Read More >>
About four years ago I started getting a lot of unsolicited emails from women. My first book, Personality Not Included, had just come out and readers were emailing me with their own stories of how having a personality had made a difference in their own careers. While school often teaches us that we must remove our personality from “professional” communication…Read More >>
There are exceptions to every rule. That’s what we like to think, isn’t it? We are all unique in our own way. No two people (or snowflakes!) are alike. There’s no shortage of cliches to describe the same thing. The Snowflake Mindset says that everything is unique and we should never forget our differences. The mindset works particularly when when…Read More >>
A theater show happens in real time. It’s live on stage and the actors are actually saying the lines as you watch them. And if it’s well done, it can seem spontaneous and real and unscripted. But of course, it is scripted. They are memorizing lines and performing them. Improv, on the other hand is completely UNscripted. It is based…Read More >>
Logically speaking, it shouldn’t really matter whether Dr. Seuss is still alive or he isn’t. But it does. Yesterday my five year old asked me about him. It’s the sort of thing kids always ask. Is this real, or isn’t it? Wondering whether or not something is real is a common occurrence In fact, it’s a filter that we sometimes use…Read More >>
Disney World isn’t just a magical place for families or kids. It’s also pretty magical for marketers too. The Disney Institute has been around for more than two decades teaching business people from any industry how to apply techniques that have been honed at Disney Parks over years and years. Last week as I took a theme park adventure with…Read More >>
Every year there seems to be another Admeter/Adbowl/Adrank type of contest that lets anyone register and vote for their favourite ads. Sure it’s nice when everyone has an opinion, but as any designer will tell you – opinions are like butts … everyone has one, but usually they stink. If you’re reading this, though, you probably care more about marketing…Read More >>
Marian Gold probably never met David Hasselhoff. Back in the 1980s, Gold was the lead singer for a band called Alphaville that produced one of the best known songs of the era. The single “Big in Japan” was a chart topping hit, and has been featured in many films and compiliation CDs since it’s first release in 1984. Hasselhoff, on…Read More >>