Let’s talk about invention vs innovation

Not only is Noah Brier the Head of Strategy at The Barbarian Group, but he is also the guy behind Brand Tags, one of the simplest but most useful sites out there for a Brand Manager.  What this means is Noah knows a thing or two about what innovation really means.   So when I stumbled on the below presentation that Noah recently gave at the VCU Brandcenter, I thought it was worth sharing.

Best Buy’s CMO recognizes that “The Future is Digital”

RSS Readers – Click through for embedded video or view it here.

My new gig – P&G Digital Brand Strategist

So I can officially announce that as of October 1st, I will be P&G’s new Global Marketing Digital Brand Strategist.

So what exactly is a Digital Brand Strategist?  Well frankly a lot of that is going to be figured out on the job since this is a completely new position for P&G Marketing.   At the highest levels, the job will be helping drive P&G’s capability in digital marketing, branded content, social media, mobile and a host of other “digital areas”.  My job will be helping guide and equip my fellow Procter & Gamble Brand Managers / Marketers across the company with the tools to develop their digital marketing strategy.  Here is part of the job description:

Accelerating the company’s Digitial Marketing expertise and efforts across the globe is one of the current top priorities. Our commitment is to equip our brand building community with the knowledge and capabilities to create and execute a Digital Marketing Strategy.  Specific responsibilities will include:
- building & running the global digital marketing network
- leading digital marketing training program (content & delivery)
- ‘collect & connect’ of best practices & inspirational case studies
- demonstrating use new digital capabilities for internal communications

This role will involve strong external networking and communication to bring the outside in and keep us in close touch with leading edge capabilities and expertise.

I am super excited about this new role because it allows me to dive headfirst into two areas that I love: Digital Marketing and Brand Building.  It will also allow me to meet and work with many of the people in the online community who I have grown to respect and admire while writing Hard Knox Life.  And with our changes at the top of our marketing leadership, the job will be even more interesting.

As part of the job I will be relocating back to Cincinnati so I’ll be getting ready for that move over the coming 2 months while finishing up some major projects on the Walmart Team.  If anyone is looking/wanting to buy a house in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I can get you a great deal on mine!

What Hard Knox Life readers want to see

The other day I put up a poll on Hard Knox Life asking you the readers what you’d like to see me write about.  As you can see from the below, people are pretty evenly interested in the areas I have been covering.  Talk about Marketing Innovation was at the top of the poll, followed by more information about Brand Management overall.    This should really help me focus my writing so I really appreciate the feedback.  

Also, I just found out the PollDaddy works with WordPress.com.  So I am going to be adding more polls over the next few weeks.  What questions do you think I should ask?

66.7%
Marketing Innovation including digital, social media, etc

40.0%
Brand Management 101

20.0%
Opinions of current marketing campaigns

46.7%
What daily life is like for a Brand Manager

Lessons of the Square Watermelon

One of my best friends passed along a story that is a great reminder of the power of creativity and innovation.  The story revolves around the growing of square watermelons in Japan (a confirmed true story from Snopes).  Below is the email he passed along:

Japanese grocery stores had a problem. They are much smaller than their  US counterparts and therefore don’t have room to waste. Watermelons, big and round, wasted a lot of space. Most people would simply tell the grocery stores that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it. But some Japanese farmers took a different approach.  ”If the supermarkets want a space efficient watermelon,”  they asked themselves, “How can we provide one?” It wasn’t long before they invented the square watermelon.

The solution to the problem of round watermelons wasn’t nearly as difficult to solve for those who didn’t assume the problem was impossible to begin with and simply asked how it could be done. It turns out that all you need to do is place them into a square box when they are growing and the watermelon will take on the shape of the box.

This made the grocery stores happy and had the added benefit that it was much easier and cost effective to ship the watermelons. Consumers also loved them because they took less space in their refrigerators which are much smaller than those in the US  - which resulted in the growers being able to charge a premium price for them.

What does this have do with anything besides square watermelons? There are a five lessons that you can take away from this story which will help you in all parts of your life. Here are a few of them:

1.) Don’t Assume:

The major problem was that most people had always seen round watermelons so they automatically assumed that square watermelons were impossible before even thinking about the question. Things that you have been doing a certain way your entire life have taken on the aura of the round watermelon and you likely don’t even take the time to consider if there is another way to do it. Breaking yourself from assuming this way can greatly improve your overall life as you are constantly looking for new and better ways to do things.

2.) Question Habits:

The best way to tackle these assumptions is to question your habits. If you can make an effort to question the way you do things on a consistent basis, you will find that you can continually improve the way that you live your life. Forming habits when they have been well thought out is usually a positive thing, but most of us have adopted our habits from various people and places without even thinking about them.

3.) Be Creative:

When faced with a problem, be creative in looking for a solution. This often requires thinking outside the box. Most people who viewed this question likely thought they were being asked how they could genetically alter water melons to grow square which would be a much more difficult process to accomplish.  By looking at the question from an alternative perspective, however, the solution was quite simple. Being creative and looking at things in different ways in all portions of your live will help you find solutions to many problems where others can’t see them.

4.) Look for a Better Way:

The square watermelon question was simply seeking a better and more convenient way to do something. The stores had flagged a problem they were having and asked if a solution was possible. It’s impossible to find a better way if you are never asking the question in the first place . Always ask if there is a better way of doing the things that you do and  constantly write down the things you wish you could do (but currently can’t) since these are usually hints about steps you need to change. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “Is there a better way I could be doing this?” and you will find there often is.

5.) Impossibilities Often Aren’t:

If you begin with the notion that something is impossible, then it obviously will be for you. If, on the other hand, you decide to see if something is possible or not, you will find out through trial and error.

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* Credits - This email was passed along to me by Bryan Radtke at P&G and in the body of the forward, Alistair Johnston appears to be the author.  I want to give credit where credit is due so if you know who originally wrote this, please let me know!