We still love this 60 Minutes segment about online education.
Of course, our favorite part is toward the end when Google CEO Eric Schmidt says,
“Innovation never comes from the established institution. It’s always a graduate student or a crazy person or somebody with great vision.”
Turn Off the PR Machine And See What Happens
A little while back, a street performer in Boston was approached by a guy who looked familiar. It turned out to be Bruce Springsteen. The Boss asked if he could try out the guy’s guitar and he then proceeded to strum along for unsuspecting people walking by (read about it here).
And if you think Springsteen did it for the press or to get all over the web…well, consider the fact that long before YouTube and camera/video phones, The Boss was on the streets of Copenhagen in 1988 performing an impromptu mini-concert with a street performer (watch it here)…and in Italy in 1997 where he came out onto his hotel balcony and played for loyal fans down on the street (watch it here).
Of course, then there are the celebrities who do things a bit differently. They surround themselves with bodyguards and an entourage and, in essence, make a spectacle of themselves. Why? They want attention. They want press. They want to see their names trending on the web.
But what they don’t realize is that Mr. Springsteen’s approach is actually more effective. He is accessible. He is appreciative. He is respectful. He is spontaneous. He is real. And THAT is why he has such a loyal following.
Now, consider how YOUR BRAND acts. Do you go out into the streets with a splashy vehicle and have people wearing T-shirts (with logos plastered all over them) scream at customers and force samples of your product down their throats…all so you can get press and attention and web mentions?
Well, maybe it’s time to turn down the dial on the PR machine and take a more low key, accessible and real approach…and see what happens.
The CEO and the Tattoo Artist…
So there’s this Wall Street Journal article from back in the day that discusses how NIke’s CEO Mark Parker not only gets inspiration from expected sources such as consumers, athletes and retailers…but how he also spends time with unexpected sources such as musicians, graffiti artists and other creative talent. He says, “I meet regularly with our biggest retail customers but I also go off the beaten path where I can stimulate the right side of my brain and discover new tastes in music, fashion and cuisine.”
Just imagine the creative BOOST your projects would receive if you invited some unique creative minds to put their stamp on them. Imagine the builds a comedian would provide..or how about a photographer…or a chef…or an app developer…or a writer…as they viewed your project or objective through their creative lens.
Consider this - if you already have creative minds from WITHIN your industry thinking about your ideas, doesn’t it just make sense to have creative minds from OUTSIDE your industry thinking about them too?
Why Proximity is an Archenemy of Creativity…
You might not realize it (or want to admit it), but when the time comes to create new ideas for the brand or project you work on every day, your creativity is severely limited.
What happens is this – over time, countless barriers and rules get programmed into your brain, making it impossible for new ideas to form. It’s as if there’s this idea-destroying terrorist living in your subconscious who sees the germ of a new and exciting idea forming and it immediately starts whispering in your ear all the reasons why you can’t do it or why it won’t work and ends up killing the idea before it ever has a chance to take shape.
Since proximity is an archenemy of creativity, you need to get out there and collaborate with individuals across different disciplines, backgrounds and interests, who know NOTHING about your brand, industry, target audience or objective. And while that might scare you at first, you need to remember that oftentimes “ignorance is bliss.” In other words, these people aren’t aware of the barriers and rules that are hampering your creativity, and their “ignorance” allows them to freely bring fresh, exciting and worthwhile, thinking to the table.
This point was summed up nicely by the president of Chevrolet Europe, Wayne Brannon, in an article about his search for a breakthrough marketing idea when he said, “I believe that the ideas that you get from people who are not that close to your brand are often a little bit richer.” AMEN!!!
INSPIRATION FOR YOUR NEXT PRESENTATION
When you play around in the marketing space you hear lots of stories that might be true…or might be complete BS. Like the story about the agency that was pitching FedEx and had their pitch delivered to the brand team via….UPS!!!
But our all time favorite is the one where an agency was pitching a BIG airline. Their pitch was scheduled for a specific time…let’s say 2pm. The team from the airline was ready to go at 2pm, but the agency was nowhere to be found. 2:15 rolled around…then 2:30…and the team from the airline was getting pissed. Finally the agency waltzed on in and said, “Sorry for the delay, but now you know how your customers feel…and we’re here to change that.” Of course, legend has it that they won the business.
And, who cares if it’s true or not…we’re just hoping it gives you a little inspiration to come up with an impactful way to kick-off your next big meeting or presentation….
INVENT THE FUTURE
The same way you buy a product and tinker with it to make it FIT your life…you might have to do the same thing in other parts of your life. Been searching for a job but can’t find one? INVENT the perfect job and hire yourself! Can’t find the club at school you want to participate in? INVENT one and watch how many others join! Stuck in a rut at work? INVENT a new division that’s custom made for you!
EDUCATION DRIVES CUSTOMER LOYALTY
Want to drive business and loyalty among your customers? Take ‘em to school!!!
Remember when school was considered a BURDEN? Nowadays, it’s a BENEFIT that consumers appreciate and talk about, which is why all types of establishments have added CLASSES to their overall customer experience – from grocery stores teaching recipes…to the local butcher offering “butchering” lessons…to liquor stores offering wine/scotch tastings…to local photographers offering classes…to retailers like Apple offering digital workshops.
Maybe it’s time to consider what kind of CLASS you could offer to your customers?
Oh, and don’t splash your brand/logos/etc. all over it. Your customers will know you’re behind it…and repay you for “feeding their brain” with their loyalty and business.
YOU ARE WHO YOU FOLLOW
Tired of the people you’re following on twitter who make you feel that much dumber for having read their ridiculous and uninspiring posts? Step-up your game and become a smarty pants by following some of the TOP PROFESSORS: http://ldrlb.co/2012/08/top-professors-on-twitter/
A PERFECT PR STUNT…FINALLY
Lots of companies try pulling off PR stunts…but, let’s face it, they’re very rarely all that clever. But then there’s this one that Starbucks pulled-off a couple years ago.
Knowing that lots of us buy a cup of coffee…put it on the roof of the car as we’re getting out our car keys….and then drive away forgetting the coffee is still on the roof…the clever folks at Starbucks PURPOSELY ATTACHED COFFEE TO THE ROOF OF CARS driven by a paid representative. The good samaritans who yelled out, “HEY, YOUR COFFEE IS ON YOUR ROOF!” ended up getting a Starbucks gift card!!!
We always thought a toilet paper brand could pull off the same type of stunt with paid reps having toilet paper stuck to their shoe in a retail store…and give the kind souls who told them it was stuck there a coupon for the brand.
Maybe it’s time for you to take a hard look at your audience’s REAL LIFE BEHAVIOR and use that as inspiration to develop a CLEVER STUNT!!!
BRING YOUR MESSAGE TO LIFE…LITERALLY
Some brands develop initiatives that cleverly bring-to-life their message and benefits right in their target audience’s lifestyle landscape, where they can’t help but notice them…appreciate them…remember them and, of course, talk about them. What’s your company’s core message/benefit? And how could you convey it in a memorable way like the folks at “Mr. Clean” did in this example?