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Dec 11, 2006

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Innovative marketing and packaging

The Two Pots, Aesop's Fables

In the business environment, there are the Davids and the
Goliaths. Occasionally, we read inspiring stories about how one
small startup company can gobble up a large share of the pie
and surprise the older boys. More often than not, they are not
about David killing Goliath, but about the two of them forming
strategic alliances and capitalizing on each other's strengths. It
boils down to understanding one's niche and learning how to
distinguish oneself from the pack. Business dealings need not
lead to brutal slaying and destruction of opponents. Smaller
players can do well to avoid head-on collisions with the big
corporations and find innovative ways to fill the service gaps
or consumer needs.

Story:

The Two Pots

The Two Pots

(Illus by Arthur Rackham)

Two Pots, one of brass and the other of clay, stood together on
the hearthstone. One day the Brass Pot proposed to the Earthen
Pot that they go out into the world together. But the Earthen Pot
excused himself, saying that it would be wiser for him to stay in
the corner by the fire.

“It would take so little to break me,” he said. “You know how
fragile I am. The least shock is sure to shatter me!”

“Don't let that keep you at home,” urged the Brass Pot. “I shall
take very good care of you. If we should happen to meet anything
hard I will step between and save you.”

So the Earthen Pot at last consented, and the two set out side by
side, jolting along on three stubby legs first to this side, then to
that, and bumping into each other at every step.

The Earthen Pot could not survive that sort of companionship
very long. They had not gone ten paces before the Earthen Pot
cracked, and at the next jolt he flew into a thousand pieces.

Moral:

The strong and the weak cannot keep company.
Equals make the best friends.
A small difference can lead to major consequences.

Kidding me:

Here are some pics I received in my email long ago. They should
tickle your creative tastebuds.

Innovation Toilet Paper Innovation Train

Innovation Umbrella Innovation Breast Feed

Innovation Butter Innovation Eyedrop

Innovation Train Seat

Innovation Noodle Blower

Quotable Quotes:

“The driving force for the development of new
products is ... the imagination of people.”
... David Packard

“Don't sell the steak; sell the sizzle.” ... Elmer Wheeler

“The creation of something new is not accomplished
by the intellect but by the play instinct.”
... Carl Gustav Jung

“If it doesn't sell, it isn't creative.” ... David Ogilvy

“If you want creative workers, give them enough
time to play.” ... John Cleese

“Nobody can claim to have a monopoly over
creativity.” ... Narayana Murthy

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

I read a saying that goes something like this: “If a jug falls on a
stone, wo to the jug! If a stone falls on the jug, wo to the jug!”
How aptly put. When your competitor is clearly the stronger
party, would you want to take him head on with exactly the
same products and packaging? There is a restaurant around
my neighbourhood specializing in vegetarian and organic
cuisine. Business is good, due to its interesting menu items and
loyal customers. Recently, a young entrepreneur bought the
shop space next to it, and set up another restaurant serving a
nearly identical cuisine. Needless to say, this new restaurant
is now almost on the brink of collapse. There is clearly a
demand for such food items. However, their mistake is not
putting in enough effort to package their products and services
differently from their competitor's. For example, the food
mix can be more varied, the pricing can be differentiated, free
drinks can be included, or service by the counter staff can be
more personalized.

Packaging yourself is equally important if you intend to stand
out from the crowd, impress the bosses at job interviews, or
have head-hunters scrambling to present you with cushy deals.
Afterall, if you put two persons with same educational and
professional qualifications together, the one you would
eventually employ must be the one who is able to market,
promote, and present himself better. Needless to say, if you are
an “earthen pot” type, it is all the more paramount that you
dress yourself up, both in form and in substance, to be able to
match up to the “brass pots”.

Stay connected with the powers that be, keep yourself well
informed of industry news and updates, groom your talents by
attending training and development courses, and market
yourself at every available opportunity. People get promoted
based on how visible they are, and how they present themselves.
It is a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. If you are always
skipping company functions, or important speeches by your
big bosses, the day will come when your bosses don't even
know you exist in the company. Hard work alone will get you
nowhere if you are not even seen or recognized.

The market can often accommodate many players in a given
industry. If you happen to be a smaller player, try to be
creative in your branding, and in differentiating your products
and services from the bigger players. Look at how Creative
Technology packaged its Zen MP3 players to compete with
Apple's Ipod. Although both started out looking almost the
same, the new range of MP3 players have now incorporated
functionality and features that are distinctly different from
each other. One is beginning to look like a mini TV, while the
other maintains its sleek design and remarkable user interface.
On a side note, Microsoft had unveiled a new Zune player,
which was incompatible with its own newly released Microsoft
Vista platform. Could it be a case of “try hard it may, but an
earthen pot will always remain an earthen pot”? Probably so,
but in the era of genetic engineering and Harry Potter, an
earthen pot may one day take on all the attributes of a brass pot.

Related Articles:

Do not fear competition
Focus on your proven strategy
Turn Adversity into Opportunity

Books worth reading:

An excellent book that those in the marketing and advertising
field may want to check out is Pat Fallon and Fred Senn's Juicing
the Orange: How to Turn Creativity into a Powerful Business
Advantage. It looks at some of the most successful ad campaigns
over the last 25 years. There is a lot to learn from the creative
approaches undertaken to change and mould customer behaviour.

Kate Wendleton, a career coach, wrote a book Packaging Yourself:
The Targeted Resume (Packaging Yourself) comprising sample
resumes and case studies to help job hunters and anybody thinking
of a career change.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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