The "White Wallaby" ZAA 108 - Spreading Ideas For Your SRL.

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The objective of this talk is to discuss how do we get our ideas to spread.

I'm going to give you three specific examples, that will be covered more closely at the end of this talk about how a company called Savage Interactive took a Tassie Tech company into a 2 billion dollar business; how a gambler named David Walsh went from being a boy from Glenorchy to making a whole bunch of money and having a lot of impact because of his wealth thus redefining what it means to be an “architect”. And one of my biggest disappointments as a marketer in the last few years -- an athlete combine called the Athlete Factory.

Before I can do that I want to tell you about sliced bread, and a guy named Otto Rohwedder.

Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread. He focused, like most inventors did in the WW1 era, on a) the patent-part and b) the making part.

The thing about the invention of sliced bread is this -- that for the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no one bought it; no one knew about it; it was a complete and total failure. And the reason is that until ‘Wonder Bread’ came along and figured out how to spread the idea of sliced bread, no one wanted it.

The success of sliced bread, like the success of almost everything is not always about what the patent is like, or what the factory is like -- it's about “can you get your idea to spread”, or not. And I think that the way you're going to get what you want, or cause the change that you want to change, to make things happen in your SRL, is to figure out a way to get ideas to spread (What we’ll call White Wallabies).

And it doesn't matter whether you're running a coffee shop or you're an intellectual, or you're in the SRL business, or you're developing APPS because all these apply to everybody regardless of what we do. It’s suggested that what we are living in a century of idea diffusion. That people who have the capacity to spread ideas, regardless of what those ideas are, win!

Let’s pick the business of SRL’s, because they make the best pictures that you can put in a presentation, and because it's the easiest way to keep score given this is an introductory topic in SRL. We use the SRL examples because we are investigating anything you decide to spend your time to do to promote / brand / market your SRL. At the heart of spreading ideas has been and to some degree still is:

  1. television,
  2. radio and
  3. print media. Collectively called the 'mass media’ these three elements have made it easier to spread ideas in a certain way… let’s call it the the "TV-industrial complex."

The way the TV-industrial complex works, is you buy some advertising time, interrupt some people, that gets you distribution. You use the distribution you get to sell more products or services. The profit generated from that to buy more ad time. And so it goes around & around & around.

But what if we could only get onto the homepage of major search engine, if we could only figure out how to get promoted there, or grab that person and get into their personal space, and tell them about what we want to do.

If we did that then everyone would pay attention, and we would win. Well, this TV-industrial complex informed childhoods aplenty. All of the successful products and services succeeded because someone figured out how to touch people in a way they weren't expecting, in a way they didn't necessarily want, with an ad, over and over again until they bought it. And the thing that's happened is, the TV-industrial complex has changed.

That just over the last few years, what anybody who markets anything has discovered is that it's not working the way that it used to.

Here's a magazine called "Hydrate." It's 150 + page of 200 GSM full colour mag. About….. water!

There’s articles about water, ads about water; there’s an idea worth spreading that water is the life blood of all livings things (apparently it’s a new message).

Can you imagine Australia not too long ago when there was just the Woman’s Weekly and The Australian Post.

Now we have high volume sales of water magazines and other new and unlikely selling products. By way of example Coca Cola Amatil – Japan, have for example tried selling Water Salad. CCA Japan introduce new products every three (3) weeks because they don’t know what will work and what won’t. So they flood the market with product. It’s a 21st century obsession.

The 21st century world revolves around “me”. Me, Me, myself and I is “my favourite person” -- me. The ME’s don't want to get email from anybody; the me people want to get "memail. Part of the reason is for “me”-- they've got way more choices than they used to, and way less time. And in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff. The narrative here is …..you're driving down the road and you see a wallaby, and you keep driving because you've seen wallabies before. Wallabies are interesting but essentially invisible. Wallabies are uninteresting. Who's going to stop and pull over and say -- "Oh, look, a wallaby." Nobody local that’s for sure.

But if the wallaby was white you'd notice it for a while. (If all wallabies were white you'd get bored with those, too.) The thing that's going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased, what gets built, is: "Is it remarkable?

And "remarkable" is a good word, because we think it just means “cool," but its true definition is "worth making a remark about." And SRL organisations are well programmed in the notion of being remarkable. Diffusing ideas though, were others make remarks about something, there is room for development.

And that is the essence of where idea diffusion must progress to; to a place where people that have little in common with an SRL organisation will remark about it in the most positive of ways.

Reclink Australia

The Reclink Australia website says:

Reclink Australia provides evidence-based sport and art programs to disadvantaged Australians to create socially inclusive, life-changing opportunities.

In partnership with more than 200 community organisations, Reclink Australia's programs create pathways to improved health and wellbeing, education and employment outcomes for all participants.

There is no other social inclusion program in Australia with the reach and impact that Reclink Australia's model currently has.

By way of remark, there’s a lot of positive going on at ‘reclink’ but many of us may nothing in common with the entity.

I argue that SRL organisations have plummeted deep into the safe place of mass marketing.

Organisations all too often market average products and services assuming the audience are average people. That's what mass marketing is isn’t it? Smooth out the edges; go for the centre; that's the big market. They would ignore the innovators and early adopters and the laggards. It’s all about going for the majority.

But in a world where the TV-industrial complex is changed, usurped by social media and gamers, I don't think that's a strategy to use any more. The strategy we want to use is to not market to these middle majority people because they're really good at ignoring the grey wallaby.

But market to these innovators because they care. These are the people who are obsessed with something. And when you talk to them, they'll listen, because they like listening -- it's about them remember! And if you're lucky, they'll tell their friends on the rest of the curve, and it'll spread. It'll spread to the entire curve…. even the laggards.

The innovators and early adopters have something called “takinti" -- it's a great Turkish word.

It’s a word that describes the desire of someone who's obsessed to drive across the country to try a new food place, because that's what they do: they get obsessed with it. To make a product, to market an idea, to come up with any problem you want to solve that doesn't have a constituency with takinti, is almost impossible.

Instead, you have to find a group that really, desperately cares about what it is an SRL organisation or you as a representative of the organisation has to say. Talk to the “takinti’s” and make it easy for them to tell their friends.

The Australian Football League figured this whole thing out a long time ago. It has a strategy, and what they do is, …..they enter a community, they talk to the people with the takinti, and then they spread the idea through the community to the people who've just crossed the street. Auskick works! It's really simple -- you sell to the people who are always in the “I’m listening” space, and just maybe, those people tell their friends.

Take for example a person like the late Steve Jobs. He gave talks to 50,000 people at his keynotes, who are all tuned in from 130 countries watching his two-hour “infomercial” -- that's the only thing keeping his company in business -- it's that those 50,000 people that care desperately enough to watch a two-hour promotion, and then tell their friends about the latest and greatest technology from Apple.

Pearl Jam, 96 albums released in a two year period. Every one of them made a profit. How? They only sell them on their website. Those people who buy the albums have the “takinti”, and then they tell their friends, and it spreads and it spreads.

Compression clothing enhanced the training apparel companies, making them a fortune. The clothing costs 35 - 70 percent more than traditional training gear because companies such as Adidas, 2XU and Under Armour made something that people talk about, because it's ‘remarkable’. These companies changed what it means to train to the max through the listeners.

And where are those three examples I mentioned at the start of this talk… I’m getting to them...

Then there’s some things that are, perhaps, too remarkable …. something like “cremains”, which is jewellery made from the cremated remains. So, after you're cremated you can have yourself made into a diamond ring and someone can wear you as an ornament or something.

Cremains is relatively new to Australia but it’s the fastest growing element of the mortuary industry in other countries – I think we are late majority and laggard people are onto this one!

A couple of quick “spreading the idea” rules rules to think through in an SRL context.

  1. The people who come up with ideas that are remarkable more often than not figure out how to put their ideas to work for them.
  2. The riskiest thing to do is be safe. Local, state and federal Government know this, right? They like to programme SRL’s with the idea of being average. The whole model of being government and its bureaucratic ness is always about average products for average people. That's risky!

And being very good is one of the worst things you can possibly do. Very good is boring. Very good is average. It doesn't matter whether you're a tech company, or you're an architect, or you have a tract on athlete development. If it's very good, it's not going to work, because no one's going to notice it.

The optimistic thing to do is to be thinking at the fringes from average, so you can have a chance at remarkable.

My three examples mentioned at the start of this talk.

Savage Interactive (SI) produced an IT product called Procreate and billed it as a product on the edge of the world but next to Silicon Valley for its rationale. Sales are off the charts. Why? artwork, aesthetics, design, ipad as an artistic tool = Procreate.

For the people who were/are “there” and “looking”, it’s remarkable. SI sales and the subsequent Apple Design Award* SI won was achieved by doing something remarkable.

*An ADA is kinda like an Oscar in the industry,” Savage Interactive co-founder, James Cuda,

David Walsh didn't just change the museum business; he changed an entire city's economy by designing one building and filling it with cool stuff that people from all over the world want to see. He has done something that was at the fringes.

The Athlete Factory was a concept built around using hot-housing techniques to rapidly advance skill acquisition in promising young athletes. The AF was too remarkable. Way ahead of its time.

In closing, the last example I want to share is:

Once upon a time someone in Coffs Harbour said we need a symbol, something a little out there, a truism, a rendering for Coffs… what about 10 x 2 metre piece of folly architecture?

And that’s a white wallaby; something worth remarking on.

Credits:

Created with images by fotolehrling - "hamburg night speicherstadt" • FelixMittermeier - "starry sky night photograph night sky" • _davidphan - "Reykavik Harpa concert hall (Iceland)" • LalalaB - "night-sky moon sea" • pixel2013 - "san francisco oakland bay bridge" • werner22brigitte - "foggy mist forest" • jarmoluk - "apple education school" • DariuszSankowski - "knowledge book library"

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