When the Dogs Won’t Eat It…

by Denis G. Campbell

During my internship, David Ogilvy told us the story of a dog food so rich in nutrients and vitamins it would make your dog healthy, vibrant and happy. It rolled out with a hugely creative $3-million-dollar campaign. Nationwide, sales soared!

The 2nd month, the campaign was scaled back and sales fell by 50%. By the third month, grocers were demanding it be returned. They could not sell it. As the company looked deeper, they found out why.

The dogs didn’t like it.

They would not eat it.

Turning a NEED into a WANT, the ultimate business challenge

I ran a company on an interim basis for an inventor whose product kept Mom dry whilst pushing her stroller in the rain. The Moms thought it ‘quirky’ and ‘a good idea.’ But that never translated into “I must have this NOW!” The bigger problem?

Their husbands didn’t like it.

Their first reaction was to laugh and then macho-ly refuse to ever use it when they saw the product. Many thought it a joke, until it grew on them. The problem? In real life on the Internet, consumers make snap choices. You don’t have time to wait for the 1st impression to become a positive, lasting and important one.

Having visited Baby Shows, Dads only impact one thing, the stroller choice. And at £500-£900 pounds, they have a huge say! You see them taking strollers through their paces, testing the suspension and banging them around because ‘their kid’ will eventually be inside them.

Everyone immediately saw and wanted the Lego 2-sided Tape which allowed kids to create on ceilings, walls and objects. This product? Not so much. The inventor had a great idea that no one asked for. So even though the NEED was there. There was no serious WANT.

So what to do?

Well, I embarked on an effort to take the mickey out (poke fun) of ourselves in the press and online and at trade shows. If we could first laugh at ourselves for the space age design, look and feel… we would bring others along.

I call this the ‘Dollar Shave Club’ approach. Poke fun at yourself, build a huge audience and the world will beat a pathway to your door if the offer is good enough.

But then there is the inventor’s grip…

In the performing arts, they say never work with children or animals onstage/camera. I would agree and add rock musicians starting television networks, friends, or inventors who are also friends. They are not business people, but think they are.

When you want to take the mick out of a product. To the inventor? You just insulted his baby. So how do you break bad news to the one who has put their blood, sweat and tears in? You slow drip it. And then be prepared for the illogical explosion when the water reaches the top of the tank.

In this social media world…

Speed and agility determine winners and loser, not your opinions and beliefs.

Unless and until you are prepared to face the truth and then adjust your strategy to help move from customer NEED to customer WANT, you’ll always push water uphill. In this social media world, quick decisions and even quicker response brings real change.

You must be a modern day Thomas Edison. Questioned by his biographer on his failure at creating a storage battery for electricity his response: failure? What failure? I now know 100 ways NOT to store electricity.

That is the expertise and attitude your company needs. The ability to handle adversity and shift on a dime based on real evidence vs. hunches. Hoping things will change is a losing strategy. Making them change quickly causes businesses soars.

The more rigid, unshaking and dogmatic your thinking… the greater the fall. It is the difference between hanging on and lighting the fuse that turbocharges your efforts.

Denis G Campbell View more

Denis G Campbell
Denis G. Campbell is founder and editor of UK Progressive magazine and co-host of The Three Muckrakers podcast. He is the author of 7 books and provides Americas, EU and Middle Eastern commentary to the BBC, itv, Al Jazeera English, CNN, CRI, MSNBC and others. He is CEO of Monknash Media and a principal with B2E Consulting in London. You can follow him on Twitter @UKProgressive and on Facebook.

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