In the first keynote of Parallels Summit 2013 on Wednesday morning, Jeremy Gutsche, founder of TrendHunter.com and author of Exploiting Chaos, bounced on the stage and asked the audience to ask themselves specifically what they are trying to do with their company.
Asking this question is important because it dictates how strategy flows, Gutsche says.
“Why should I choose you versus any of the other competitive vendors in the room?” he asks. He says you should be able to describe what you are trying to do in seven words or less, and your team should know this too.
Gutsche described how in technology, it isn’t about selling a product it’s about selling an experience. It’s about culture. Web hosts like Go Daddy know this, and have exemplified this through their advertising campaigns.
Culture, according to Gutsche, is more important than strategy.
“When you create a product that has a cultural connection, I advertise for you,” Gutsche says. Customers who feel a cultural connection will tell their friends through social media, and this is especially true for web hosts.
“You need to deeply understand your customer with the cultural connection,” he says. Innovation starts by observing your customer and he explains that observing customers in their zone is not about serving customers necessarily, but is about interacting with them. When you understand their needs and their business, you can understand what products you can offer them.
Culture creates customer obsession, this creates more value and gives you the ability to charge more, he says.
“Complacency will be the architecture of your downfall,” Gutsche says. Being good can trap you, he says, you can’t see opportunity and you are less willing to adapt or learn a new skill.
To get to the next level of innovation, it’s more than just observing competitors and customers it’s about looking at adjacent markets and trying to find inspiration that can be brought in to your company.
There are three ways to cultivate infection, according to Gutsche, the first is viral creations (product or service is so good people talk about it), viral medium (the way you deliver your package), or a well packaged story, which tells your customers why they should choose you.
“When you portray your product as average, and that’s all it will ever be,” he says.
The story that travels has three components, it is simple, direct and supercharged, which means you pass the “I have to tell someone test.”
Talk back: Can you describe what you are trying to do in seven words or less? How do you approach innovation at your company? Let us know in a comment.