IdeaWeek is a blog series on the ideation process, offering tips on how you can drive innovation and creativity at work. Follow the conversation on Twitter for more ideas on how your business can get better ideas faster.
Not every product launch is a success. But an initial failure doesn't have to doom a product that has intrinsic value, especially if you tap into customer insight as a way of re-conceptualizing or repositioning your new offer. The same goes for sour marketing ideas that need revamping.
Here are three classic examples of companies that have used research and creativity to turn sour marketing situations and boring products around with sweet and successful marketing campaigns:
1. How P&G brought Febreze back to life
When it first went to market, P&G marketed Febreze as a way to make remove odors - such as cigarette smoke - from peoples' clothes. But after months of trying to pitch Febreze that way, sales went from bad to worse. What P&G realized was that people developed habits that desensitized them to the horrible odors in their lives. Therefore, selling the Febreze routine as the reward for a fresh-smelling home cued by a bad smell was an utter failure because consumers thought their houses smelled fine.
After further analysis, P&G realized that it could only succeed with Febreze if they positioned it as part of an existing cleaning routine rather than trying to create a new one. Specifically, they came up with advertisements that sold Febreze as the reward for cleaning a room.
It included the cue - a freshly cleaned room; the routine - spraying that room with Febreze; and the reward - relishing "a smell that says you've done a great job." Within two months of the summer 1998 marketing revamp, Febreze sales doubled. By 1999, Febreze revenues totaled $230 million. Since then Febreze has introduced spinoffs that account for over $1 billion in annual sales. - Peter Cohan, Forbes
2. BlendTec turns a boring blender into the most exciting product ever.
Before BlendTec, industrial blender advertisements comprised of heavy-duty machines blending what the product originally intended to blend: scraps of metal. BlendTec broke with the boring status quo:
BlendTecÛ_started uploading videos to YouTube as early as 2006, attempting to display the strength of its product by blending all types of different products.
It started with some marbles, a chicken, golf balls and a six pack of Coke. Then BlendTec started blending electronics, including iPhones and iPads, and the company's popularity surged when director Tom Dickson stood in front of the camera and blended an iPad into smithereens. "Yes, you can blend an iPad," he said.
In six years, the company's sales have grown by over 1,000%, and it has even created a marketing department to help other companies create similar campaigns.
Its videos, which show the company's blenders smashing iPhones, cans of deodorant, glow sticks and all types of toys, have amassed tens of millions of views. The iPad video itself has 14 million views, the majority of those shortly after the video was uploaded in 2010. - Patrick Stafford, SmartCompany
3. How WD-40 went from outer space to earthly use.
Have you ever used WD-40 to prevent rust or lubricate a squeaky hinge? If you have, you aren't alone. The name WD-40 does, in fact, have an important meaning: it was the 40th attempt at creating a degreaser and rust protection solvent. As WD-40 explains on its "About-Us" page, the small lab in San Diego California working on the product for Rocket Chemical Company had numerous failed attempts before WD-40 actually began to work.
Although originally designed for use in the aerospace industry, once the scientists got the product working, employees began to sneak it out of the plant to use at home. To expand the product to the residential market, it was put into aerosol cans that were first sold in 1958. Today, the original WD-40 formula (the 40th attempt) has not changed and the lubricant and degreaser is the go-to solution for those who need lubrication and rust prevention. - Business Pundit
It's not an easy feat to turn sour ideas or boring products around with sweet marketing campaigns. The stories from Febreze, BlendTec, and WD-40 are three examples of brands surpassing an obstacle that many other struggling brands failed to jump over.
But today, brands can use consumer insights to improve their chances of bouncing back from marketing fails. Brands no longer need to rely on trends, their bosses, or internal sources for creativity - they can listen to new ideas that come from valuable stakeholders and customers who are outside their own four walls.
Co-creation is an avenue where brands can collaborate with customers to create better advertising campaigns, foster engagement, and accelerate the time it takes to develop a marketing brief.