There has been quite a bit of talk lately about disruptive companies and their effect on industries. It’s important to understand exactly what disruption is and why it can be a positive and powerful quality for businesses. What’s especially helpful is being able to convey to your customers that you’re a disruptive company. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to do this.
In simple terms, a company that makes waves in its industry and introduces new technology, processes, or innovative products is disruptive. When people hear about disruption, they are often thinking of extreme and high-profile cases. For example, Uber and Lyft created extreme disruption by introducing ride-sharing services. Airbnb did something similar in regard to accommodations.
Although we all take Netflix for granted now, 20 years ago it completely disrupted the home entertainment industry and essentially ended the era of home movie rentals (at least as a large-scale business). Amazon, meanwhile, disrupted the entire retail sector by making online shopping the norm. However, disruptions happen every day on a smaller scale as well.
The word “disrupt” had a fairly negative connotation before it became a popular business term. You wouldn’t want your dinner or meeting disrupted by a rude person, for example. However, in business, the idea is more complicated. Whether a disruption is good or bad really depends on your point of view. For a successful company such as Uber or Netflix, it’s obviously good. If you’re a taxi company or Blockbuster, though, it’s a disaster.
What really counts, however, is the effect changes have on consumers and society as a whole. In this regard, disruptions are generally positive as they represent progress and ways of doing things that are faster, cheaper, more productive, or more fun. That’s why it’s so desirable if you can signal to your customers that you’re a disruptive company.
There are quite a few ways you can convey that you’re a disruptive company in your industry.
The first step in conveying that you’re a disruptive company is to actually be disruptive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to invent a new technology, device, or whole new type of business. You can also look for ways to innovate within an existing framework. Sometimes you can do this by borrowing disruptive ideas from other industries. For example, after Uber and Airbnb took off, hundreds of other sharing apps sprung up. You can now find a meal delivery service, dog walker, rental bike or scooter, cleaning service, and lots of other services by swiping on your smartphone.
Smaller businesses can disrupt the local market or niche industries by offering new products, better customer service, or by combining products and services in unexpected ways. For example, some ice cream parlors set themselves apart by offering unusual flavors.
While branding is crucial to any business, if you want to show that you’re disruptive it’s especially crucial to create a distinct and recognizable brand identity. This includes your name, logo, company culture, and values. A disruptive company, by definition, is not one that’s content to play it safe and remain in the background. You need to be transparent and show the world exactly who you are and what you stand for. The cosmetics company Lush, for example, isn’t shy about promoting its values such as ethical buying and using ingredients not tested on animals. These values don’t appeal to everyone, of course, but they help to differentiate Lush as a distinctive brand.
In all of your marketing and communications, make sure you emphasize what differentiates you from the competition. Beyond this, make sure the tone and style of your marketing convey how different you are. Neil Patel shares some good examples of disruptive marketing that include Apple, Dollar Shave Club, and others who broke the mold not only with their products but in the way they describe and promote their products. In the case of Dollar Shave Club, the company originally disrupted the shaving industry by offering cheaper shaving solutions. However, their success is largely due to their creative advertising campaigns that combine humor and social awareness.
In an era of rapid change, disruptions are all around us. The real question is whether you’re going to be one of the disruptors or a victim of disruption. If you want to count yourself in the former group, you need to consider this in all aspects of your business from product development to marketing to customer service. Don’t be content with the status quo. Identify pain points with current solutions and offer a better way. Then tell the world about it.
Someone will be in touch very soon.