A challenger is defined more by mindset than size or age.
A challenger mindset is one that questions why things are done instead of accepting how they are. Challengers embrace change and find the opportunity in it instead of trying to maintain the status quo.
How do you do that? You constantly think about how you’d do things differently if you were to start them “from scratch” today.
It’s theDay One mindset of Jeff Bezos and Amazon that keeps them thinking and acting like a challenger, even as a nearly $2T company. It’s the Beginner’s Mindset, a concept that originated from Zen Buddhism, practiced by many leading tech CEOs like Elon Musk and Marc Benioff. It’s what led Bob Iger and Disney to invest so heavily in Disney+ and completely reinventa 100-year-old company.
Those a big examples that started with a small question asked repeatedly: “If we were going to start this business from scratch today, how would we do things differently?”
Make sure you’re asking yourself that question on a regular basis. You might not always be able to make the changes you’d want, but at least you’ll have the perspective of what a challenger would do.
The biggest difference between old school and new school marketers? The assumption that you have your audience’s attention vs understanding you have to earn it.
The old school comes from a world where you can buy attention and expect it to be there. You place your ad and people will watch it, read it, listen to it. It leads to ads like this. If there wasn’t a culture of watching the John Lewis Christmas ad every year in the UK (like watching Super Bowl ads in the US), this would not be content that people would choose to watch and share.
The new school comes from a world where you have to earn attention. You post your ad and it needs to fight for every eyeball and earhole. It leads to ads like this. Ads that people want to watch and want to share. Ads that “go viral”.
Understanding you have to earn your audience’s attention is the right way to think about modern-day advertising. Even if you can buy it, trying to earn it will guide you towards making content people want to share, which will help deliver more of the brand and business results you’re looking for.
Take 10 minutes this week to read this post by Rand Fishkin of SparkToro on Influence Maps and how to apply them to marketing. Many industries have known for years that behavioural design can have a big impact on changing the way people think and act, which is ultimately what marketing is all about. And yet, so much of how marketing is done (still) is based on marketer-centric ideas and opinions. If you take a customer-centric, full-picture view of how, why, where, and when someone experiences your brand, you’ll have a much better understanding of how to communicate and connect in a way that matters to them. Here’s the framework he uses as a jumping off point for the article, but the whole thing is worth reading.
It’s similar to “Jobs to be Done” theory, popularised by Clayton Christensen and his colleagues at Harvard in the 2016 book “Competing Against Luck”. Jobs theory says that people “hire” products and services to do a job in their life, not because of the feature and attributes they offer. It’s the “people need a quarter inch hole in the wall, not a quarter inch drill” concept. The JTBD research and framework are focused on product innovation, but it’s just as relevant to marketing. People “hire” your brand to do a job in their life, to make them feel a certain way (or to make others feel a certain way about them). Jobs theory, influence mapping…it all comes down to being customer-centric. If you focus on understanding and solving for the needs of your customer, you will always be led in the right direction.
As you read all the 2022 trend reports out there, just remember – there’s more opportunity in reacting quickly to the present than there is in trying to predict the future.