The Unoriginal Original

Imagine a selfie from the 1920's?  

You thought it was a product of the smart phone generation didn't you? This photograph is from December 1920 taken across the street from St. Patrick's cathedral. Seems like nothing is all that original. 

To be sensationally successful, Ideas, products or services demand originality. You have to find a new and different way of seeing the world. It is the original that gets noticed. How can you have a meaningful twist on how you present yourself, your product or your work to the world? 

Everything is derivative of something but the trick is to bring something new into your world from the outside. 

This painting from 1523 is a self portrait in a convex mirror by an artist named Parmigianno. The same impulse but 500 years before we all started to take selfies on our iPhones.  

The selfie we know today is derived from painting that is over 500 years old. And if you looked back further in art history, you'd see even more examples of group self-portraits through other reflections from even earlier periods.

The need to be original in marketing almost always comes from borrowing from outside of your market space. Brands crave a fresh way of presenting themselves in their markets. We see originality when companies bring something fresh from outside their universe. 

A sporting goods brand that looks to technology brands. Nike has been been doing this for years. 

A dog food company that gathers inspiration from non-profits. Look at Iams and some of the work they do. 

A watch company that looks at how disposable razors are sold. Swatch

A video firm that borrows its business model from magazine subscriptions. Netflix

A taxi service company that sees a brand new way of delivery value to customers based on sharing from a sharing service in the hospitality industry. Uber

A B2B company get inspiration walking around Comic Con and checking into a fantasy world? They see a great idea to borrow from the world of comic books and start creating sales collateral as illustrated artwork. 
Beg.   Borrow.   Steal.
 That is what marketing is about. The trick is to pull things in from outside of your own market and add your own flair.  

New Innovative Marketing
I like to approach marketing problems by searching for an idea I can borrow from outside of my industry. My main challenge to myself is, what isn't anyone else doing in my space? Can I find a new way of seeing something that no one else is doing or thinking about. 

The key is getting away from your industry and go somewhere different, uncomfortable and surprising. 

These unexplored worlds can be filled with sparks that ignite your imagination. Soon you are asking, what if we could sell X like Y does? You find a fresh approach not by studying your competition but by studying other companies who sell to the same demographics. 

Finding Oxygen 
I had a challenge at work to figure out an innovative way to tell a complicated story about how and why oxygen matters so much in wine making. The company I work for, Nomacorc makes a highly engineered closure that is like a very sophisticated air filter. We can control oxygen so a winemaker can control the aroma, flavor and taste of wine long after the wine is bottled. 

I didn't want to use another PowerPoint to tell the story or even a traditional video. While watching a Ted Talk about space exploration, something I am not really interested in, they showed a clip from a whiteboard animation. I had found my inspiration and it resulted in something that in a short few minutes tells a complicated story in an entertaining manner. Check it out: 

The secret that isn't so secret  

Don't look to your own industry for ideas. Get outside of your world. Start reading magazines from business segments you have no interest in that may give you an inspiration. Get away from how everyone does things in your industry. 

See things with a fresh eye and don't forget to smile like Mona. 


Jeffrey Slater

Have a challenging marketing issue you are wrestling with? Perhaps you could use a marketing coach to help you reflect on your brand image. Connect with me through Clarity to schedule time to talk. 

This is a selfie of me with college friends Ed Solomon and Jeff Blattner from1973 at The University of Pennsylvania. 

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