Innovation can be a great way to get noticed and advance your career. But “new” for the sake of “new” may not bring you the success you are hoping for. Sometimes, innovation needs to be more subtle, more invested … more long-term. Check out the new electric Volkswagen Golf for inspiration on how to do it right.
The all-electric Golf is not necessarily new, but it is new to the American marketplace. Herein lies the first lesson. You may not have the most original idea in the world, but if you can take your idea and introduce it to a ready audience, then you may very well have a winner.
The Wright brothers get all the credit for flight, but what about the guys who took culture from props to jet engines? Theirs may not be household names, but these guys redefined what it means to travel, to fight and to reach for the stars. And there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Both aeronautics and rocketry are growth industries. Society at large may never learn the names of all the innovators who will make “The Future” our reality, but they will innovate nonetheless. They will succeed. They will fail. They will take risks and make changes and turn “new” into average. Then they will do it all over again. These people, too, are innovators. They may not be swinging for the fences during every at-bat, but Ted Williams and Wade Boggs are just as important to baseball as Babe Ruth. The same can be said of sequential innovators in every business.
Further, VW has a specific – and simple – goal. They need the attention of the American consumer in order to gain a foothold on market share in an incredibly competitive marketplace. Better still, VW understands there’s no need to get weird just to get attention. The electric Golf looks pretty much exactly like the gas-powered Golf. And it operates along similar parameters.
It may not stand out, but the Golf excels at the one thing that it does differently. It’s an electric car that doesn’t lose much in performance when compared to its gas-powered counterpart. In other words, it brings a very desirable benefit to the table without sacrificing much, if anything. So, instead of being defined by what it lacks, the Golf is defined for exactly what it can do for its buyers. PR doesn’t get much better than that.
FedEx is headed to court and they may win their case. However, Ronn Torossian believes that, in the court of public opinion, a win might be worse than a loss.
When it comes down to it, most people don’t quibble about their shipping preference. For the average consumer, the difference between FedEx and UPS is fairly minimal. From a public relations perspective, a win is not giving your customers a reason to CHOOSE the other guy – this may be about to change.
No matter how long or how often they work, FedEx drivers are not legally employees. They are independent contractors. Regardless of drivers’ employment status, the company maintains strict appearance, timeliness, and work standards from its drivers. In addition, the company reportedly deducts the cost of uniforms, truck washings, and log scanners from the drivers’ paychecks.
While these standards and practices may seem like those of an employer, FedEx considers their drivers to be independent contractors. The company doesn’t pay overtime to its drivers nor does it contribute to their Social Security benefits. These stipulations motivated a cadre of former drivers to sue FedEx Ground for back pay, including overtime and paycheck deductions.
Meanwhile, FedEx is defending the business model, claiming that it creates a healthy motivation for contractors to do their best. The courts aren’t buying FedEx’s rationale and recent rulings have determined that its drivers are defacto employees. Undeterred by these recent adverse rulings by the court, FedEx continues to disagree in the courtroom. FedEx has won very similar cases in the past, and a win in this case could save FedEx a tremendous amount of money in back pay as well as in the cost of current and future benefits for its drivers.
Ronn Torossian believes that each win for FedEx also comes with a cost that cannot be recovered – damage to its brand in the eyes of public opinion. According to Torossian, each time public consumers hear about these challenges and cases, they learn about the glaring difference between FedEx and UPS – while FedEx drivers are in and out of court fighting for employee status – UPS drivers are not only employees, they have a union.
On the surface this might seem like a selling point for FedEx, considering their argument is that their business model directly benefits the customer – yet, the company is somewhat reticent to bring this point of comparison to the forefront in marketing. As Ronn Torossian observes, “They’ll talk speed and they’ll talk quality . . . but, they rarely bring up motivated workers.”
Smart, because its a losing argument in the court of public opinion. Why? Because it rings so hollow. The company might save a lot on employment costs, taxes, and other benefits, however, it doesn’t appear to be passing those savings on to their customers. In turn, FedEx’s benefit from its argument is a net zero where PR is concerned. Another argument that FedEx puts forth in favor of contract employees is that the business can grow or shrink much easier – the company is less restricted without the typical employer-employee ties, therefore, they can more easily sever relationships. Plus, adding contractors is much more cost effective than bringing in new employees. Again, these factors solely and squarely benefit the business – extending next to nothing for the consumer.
Taken together, FedEx comes off as a company looking to make a profit, which is typically not a bad thing. Nonetheless, the company looks like they are doing it at the expense of workers without any tangible benefits to its customers. In Ronn Torossian’s opinion, that’s a PR loser every time.
In October, 2014, Google released its newest Apple iOS app, “Primer.” Here is a brief introduction to the app, and why rookie marketing professionals should use it.
What is Google Primer?
Google realized that not all first-time marketers know the ins and outs of online business promotion, so it developed and released Primer with these start-up companies in mind.
Google Primer is a collection of teaching tools, such as online lessons, quizzes, and quick tips, that address the basics of online marketing and business promotion. Google Primer currently covers three subject areas:
- Search engine marketing, which addresses how to increase visibility in search engine results through advertising, key words, and optimization;
- Content marketing, which addresses how to use online media and content to reach out to new clients and retain existing customers; and
- How to get media coverage and public exposure for an up-and-coming business.
Google will expand on these initial marketing lessons, and has plans to add additional online marketing topics as well.
Who Can Use Google Primer?
Google Primer is currently only available for iOS platforms, and works best with versions iOS 7 and above. Users of iOS phones can download the app for free in the iTunes Store.
People with Android platforms can ask Google to send a notification email when Primer is available for Android platforms.
What Does Google Primer Give Marketers?
Google Primer’s lessons are short, succinct, and accessible. It is even accessible off-line.
The lessons are short so that the user can sneak in a session during spare moments or on the go. Furthermore, new marketers can more easily grasp main ideas because the brevity of each topic keeps “fluffer” information out, and the most relevant information in.
Google hopes that this app will bring newer marketing professionals up to speed with the industry leaders, so it starts at the very beginning. Google Primer does not include technical language, and it takes complex marketing ideas and conveys the ideas in unpretentious, layman’s terms.
Where Does Google Get Its Information?
Google developed Primer with the help of industry leaders and researchers. Thus, marketing rookies can rest assured that the information presented through Google Primer is tried and true advice from industry experts.
Google Primer is a great learning tool for newbie internet marketing professionals, and even for professionals that are looking for a refresher course.
You have worth. You have value. And best of all you have an incredible idea you KNOW is going to be a huge success. Guess what. So does everyone else where you are and doing what you are trying to do.
I don’t write that to discourage you. Just the opposite, in fact. I told you to help your perspective and teach you the first step you need to be successful. You need to consider what the prospect wants. That prospect could be a potential boss, manager, client, or partner. No matter who they are, if they have something you want, you need to offer something they want.
With that foundational principle in mind, consider these 3 ways to achieve your goals and get what you want from other people.
Understand your plan
Every entrepreneur has an idea that they desperately want to call a plan. But every investor or successful entrepreneur understands that their “plan of an idea” is mostly enthusiasm, BS, and smoke and mirrors. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to do the difficult work. Crunching (realistic) numbers and making projections that make sense to more than your ego. But why “understand?” Simple, because you need to be able to easily and succinctly communicate that plan to anyone, anywhere, in 30 seconds or less.
Don’t be stupid
This point is not about taking risks. This is about getting educated. As a professional in whatever field you choose, continuing education is not an option. It’s not a luxury or something you “get to.” It’s something you MUST do. You have to stay current to be relevant, and whatever you think you know now may be obsolete tomorrow. If that happens, you never want to be the last to know. Make banishing ignorance a vital aspect of your day-to-day business protocol.
Get help, you need it
This is not about making an appointment to deal with your personality disorder. This is about having the right people in the right places. And that begins with understanding your strengths and not ignoring your weaknesses. If you are terrible at something, find someone who is amazing at it. Bring them on board (remember point one) and give them an opportunity to be awesome. These partnerships will create little successes that will add up to a reputation of bigger successes and consistency, which can be priceless currency in the business world.
One final thing has to be said: there is never going to be a foolproof way to guarantee you will always get the exact response you are looking for. People have priorities you may honestly not meet. Or they may just be “different.” When that happens, the best response is to take it in stride, make the best impression you can, and … walk away with your head held high. If you are any measure of a success in your career, there will be more than one time a previous “no” calls you back and says they changed their mind. So be careful not to let a “no” become a burned bridge.
When an Atlanta homeless shelter was in danger of having its water service terminated, an Atlanta area charity known as Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless stepped up and delivered hundreds of cases of bottled juice and bottled water to the shelter. Sure, they could have tried to raise the money to help pay the bill, but the organization understood its mission and who it was founded to help.
The local press reported that Cheri Hardge, spokeswoman for the Hosea organization, did not miss a beat when she was given an opportunity. “The homeless is our clientele. Whenever we see a need and if there’s something we can do to help fill the need, we do.”
How do you suppose the millions who saw that report responded? Well, if they were looking for a way to help the homeless without giving them a handout, they now knew exactly where to go. And if they ever wondered who helped the homeless in their city, they now had an answer. In one public statement Cheri Hardge branded her organization to the greater Atlanta area.
But she only had the opportunity and platform because she and her group saw an opportunity and took it. They didn’t wonder if they should step up. They didn’t endlessly look at the pros and cons. They said: This is us. Let’s do this!
That’s a combination of knowing what you’re about and being willing to get out and do it. That simple mindset yields massive dividends.
First, you have a message people can easily grasp and a brand they can quickly relate to. Next, you find yourself equipped to know exactly where the “right place” and the “right time” is. These things are not mysteries to successful people. Because they plan to create those opportunities. It starts with understanding what you are about in a way that allows you to communicate that to your staff, volunteers, and donors. From there, you must BE that “thing” at every opportunity.
Hosea didn’t “become” a homeless charity because they helped a homeless charity. But, to the people of Atlanta, they became THE homeless charity simply by being willing and able to be what they already are. That’s the essence of nonprofit public relations.