Tailoring Your Business to Succeed

The Art of Marketing conference came to Vancouver, BC on June 9th bringing five of the most forefront experts in marketing to share their ideas and theory around marketing in 2011. This article is part of a series summarizing the topics discussed on the day.

Age of Disruption

The second speaker of the day was William Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company magazine and author of Practically Radical.  Taylor's theme was about the 'age of disruption' in which customers become more selective about the companies they support through tough economic times. 

Becoming Memorable

He explained that businesses should be asking themselves, how they can make themselves more memorable.  The first step to achieving this, should be understanding the mission and values of your organization and summarizing them into one succinct and memorable phrase.  This should not to be confused with a tag line. Offering Nike as an example, Taylor described that although their tag is "Just do it" their mission, he feels, should be "quality, advanced, athletics". Expanding upon this Taylor explained that companies should define themselves by who they are and not by their products.  Citing Pixar Animation Studios as an example, he observed that their decision to look after and develop their staff, instead of bringing on a new group for each film, has resulted in their staff becoming their brand ambassadors.  By offering each employee the ability to learn about animation, from the security guard to the accountant, it has created a shared mindset which helps them embrace and understand what the company is about.

Tapping into Your Collective Genius

Taylor described how the best leaders in business are those who tap into the 'collective genius' as nobody alone is as smart as everyone together. He highlighted the point with the example of successful Vancouver business, Fluvog.  The popular brand realised that its customers loved shoes nearly as much as they did, so decided to introduce the concept of ‘open source shoes’.  This successful campaign has resulted in 12 new shoe designs on sale across North America, and a brand which their customers believe in and feel part of.  

Importance of Customer Relationships

Carrying on with the theme of customer relations and interactions, Taylor highlighted the importance of asking if your employees know what makes your company so great and if they can relay that message to potential customers? Agreeing with Joel, he observed that businesses making connections with their customers are the ones who will succeed.  

Finding Your Niche

He commented that it's not good enough to be a little bit good at everything anymore; you need to find your niche.  With the adoption of 'me too' thinking in business, the originality of products and services is becoming increasingly slim, it is therefore becoming important to be the company that cares in order to stay ahead of the competition.  Taylor provided the example of one company who logged the longest ever customer service call at five hours; not because of a complaint but because the customer was so engaged with the employee and their exchange of life stories. 

Continuous Evolution

Taylor surmised that you can not let what you know, limit what you can imagine.  A business can only succeed by evolving; through listening to the ideas of both its employees and its clients.