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July 23, 2011

When we become myopic

It’s easy to see things the same way, through the same lens, from the same perspective time and time again …

Heidi StrandAnd for that reason, it can be extremely difficult to improve these things because we simply overlook them, or take them at face value assuming they can’t be changed.

But, it’s the innovators that look at something most of us take for granted and see an opportunity.

An example? The toilet. Apparently this critical daily friend has been in existence since 1596 due to Sir John Harington. And, since that time – not much has changed. Until now.

You may have been reading the news and noticed the hullabaloo pertaining to our modern convenience. If not, skim Fast Company’s article: The Toilet Of The Future Will Turn Poop Into Power. Yes, you read that title correctly. Charcoal, salt and water might actually become the waste we do want!

And because the need for improved toilets is massive, so is the money funding this project by the Gates Foundation. However, (because there is a lesson in all of this) marketers don’t need $42 million to rethink and innovate. We simply need to constantly question: Is there a better way to reach, appeal and bring value to our customer.

Another article, What CEOs Can Learn From Siberian Teenagers, also featured in Fast Company, provides a less altruistic story than saving our world’s poor from disease, but the concept behind finding the right solution for the right ‘consumer’ is still applicable. Author Martin Lindstrom describes his party-like stay with Russian teens to better understand their buying decisions towards vodka.

Did you know (because while I am a lover of vodka, I was unaware of this tidbit) that there are approximately 3,000 different brands of this aqua vita. That makes it a commodity in my book. So how can a commonplace item (that has a permanent home above my sink) become unique and different? You rethink and innovate. You understand the needs, wants and desires of the consumer/audience and you only do that by looking at it with fresh, open-minded eyes.

So as you are driving home, from your long day of work and are zoning out, letting the familiar scenes pass you by as you have hundreds of times before – pull over instead. Get out of your car. Take a look around and really see that panoramic view versus your usual glance at 60 miles an hour.

You may just see an opportunity.