One in 3000: Overcoming Failure

That’s the chance that an idea will become a successful product launch. It only took Thomas Edison 6000 attempts to launch the light bulb! So how are we going to come up with a great idea that can sustain a business? Edison showed that one great idea can out shine thousands of failures. Sometimes the only way to do something incredible is to become indifferent to failure.

One of the most amazing comeback stories ever is of Johnny Unitas. He was just 138 pounds in high school. Notre Dame didn’t want him because he was too light. The Pittsburgh Steelers cut him because they thought he was too dumb to play quarterback. He went to play semi-pro on fields of dirt, which had to be sprinkled with oil to keep the dust from rising. How low can you go!?

He finally got a chance with the Colts his first pass was an interception for a touchdown. His first handoff was a fumble. He had failed so many times, but he refused to give up.

Then something unexpected and extraordinary happened, he started throwing touchdowns and leading the team to wins. He went on to lead the Colts to three championships while winning three MVPs, and becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Johnny Unitas showed true perseverance and refusal to accept failure.

The Buzz About Marketing

At times a low cost creative idea turns out to be much more effective than an expensive ad campaign. There are several examples of this in: Buzz Marketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff by Mark Hughes.

The author uses creative ideas to generate tremendous awareness of a product such as renaming a town half.com. Or putting ads on urinal cakes that say “stop pissing away all your money”.

Another example of buzz marketing is Starbucks. They have quite a small ad budget but they have become one of the most recognized brands in the world. Although this is probably due to the sheer volume of stores, they also use a lot of creative advertising to create buzz, such as putting a magnet of a Starbucks coffee cup on the top of a taxi causing people to run after the taxis. They also illuminated an entire skyscraper with green lights to promote the release of their Green Tea expresso drink.

These kind of efforts not only get lots of buzz but also are covered by the media, which is free advertising.

Will Math Take Over Marketing?

I just read a startling article in Business Week which suggests a growing trend of mathematics driving business decisions. As a mathaphobic this scares me because it may mean that we will have to use mathematical models to decide what was traditionally decided through intuition and experience like “which worker is best equipped for a certain job”. Lucky for us marketers, even the best models can not come up with innovative ideas, an integral part of creating consumer value.

Math Will Rock Your World (Business Week)

The Ultimate Battleship Strategy Guide

One of my all time favorite marketing books is Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. The Blue Ocean Strategy involves innovatively expanding to new markets where there is no competition rather than fight for market share in bloody “Red Oceans”.

My favorite example is Cirque du Soleil which is amazingly successful. Instead of competing with other traditional circuses they created a theater like experience with intricate costumes and story lines. Since they have significantly differentiated their product they have no competition and tremendous demand.