Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Making the case for Disruptive Marketing

Harvard professor Clayton Christensen coined the work 'Disruptive Innovation' in his famous book titled 'The Innovator's Dilemma'. This type of innovation typically helps in creating a new market and value network. Usually its done by creating products for a completely different customer segment or by working on a pricing policy that is so unexpected that it helps the company grab market share. While most of the innovation is done to improve the business model, the roots for disruptive innovation lay with the market or the industry associated with the product. Most of the innovation is well, not really innovative in nature. Rather, its the combination of several existing technologies that may be combined in a simpler to provide a competitive advantage.

Then there are different types of disruption. 'Low end disruption' where people don't mind paying lesser price for a cheaper product. In India, Tata Nano was positioned as a disruption for a market where it was assumed people would be ready to pay less for a car which is stripped down of several features. Now, it has become a marketing failure to study. There are other cases where this is working well, for e.g. private label brands that are being sold in big retail chains like Future / EasyDay / Star (by the Tatas). The other type is 'New market disruption' where the focus is on high value business. Cloud services have an entire gamut of solutions catering to B2B / B2C customers.

Given the way the digital marketing landscape is evolving, marketing too has to come to terms with disruption. Technology shifts, changing customer buying patterns and the short attention span have made it increasingly difficult for marketeers to catch the potential customer with their target message. Instead of pushing their own branding messages, marketeers now need to be prudent and cost conscious in utilizing budgets. The key areas for marketeers to focus would center on emerging markets where the likelihood of product adoption are high / in areas where affordability is the focus. Nokia is an example to note. Towards the start of this year they came up with a billboard campaign where the creative changed as per the weather conditions. They are also famous for their tactical tweet 'Thanking' Apple for imitating their form for iPhone 5C last year. Conor Pierce, VP for UK & Ireland said,  “We don’t have all the funds in the world but we have been increasing our use of disruptive marketing to bring to life our brand and cut through.” They have also carried this over from a B2B perspective by sending seeding boxes for phone trials. There's an example of how disruptive marketing worked to their advantage.

Will the metrics prove that this works and how will you measure ROI? These are answers that are best solved by defining the business objective for your campaign. If business feels that a few tweets out there will help in catching customer eyeballs to translate to leads, then besties to them in proving the cost of customer acquisition from the channel. The digital journey is what would need to be tracked with proper conversion funnels to see how the customer is moving across your web properties will help. Calculating the customers lifetime value to go back to business and prove value is what could help make a stronger case. At the end you need to ensure your disruptive marketing strategy is truly a sustainable one.

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