I’m sitting at “The Juice Bar” at the Jet Blue terminal at JFK Airport as I type this. But, as much as you’d like to imagine me, dear reader, with a smoothie, or something made from kale and lawn clippings, or even a bracing shot of turmeric, I’m in possession of nothing of the sort. How is that possible, you ask? The answer is, that the “juice” in question refers not to the liquid bounty of fruits and vegetables, but to electricity. “The Juice Bar” is a mobile device charging station! The Juice Bar. See what they did there? You may be wondering what this has to do with the usual subject matter of this blog. Well, drink up. You’ve just been served an excellent example of subtle Disruptive Marketing. And, it’s green!
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ve heard a bit about Disruptive Marketing. It’s a buzzword in the marketing world, and yet with all its Zeitgeist-y vibrations, it can be a tricky concept of which to get a hold, and put into practice. The fact that it’s a bit fuzzy and kinetic, however, is actually a key factor in understanding Disruptive Marketing! Disruptive Marketing doesn’t follow the rules, man. It’s free! It’s rebellious! It’s fun! It’s fresh! It’s, well, disruptive.
But, how does it work? If there aren’t rules, per se, how can you learn how to do it? How can you begin to develop your inner Disruptive Marketer? The secrets of Disruptive Marketing can be found in a few key ingredients.
Back to the Juice.
Disruptive Marketing Considers Its Market
Just like step one in any successful marketing effort, a good DM campaign (we’re on an abbreviation basis now) also takes into account who’ll be experiencing it. In many cases that may be a select demographic- Millennials, Boomers, Gen X, people in a specific trade, people who have dogs, new homeowners, etc. In the case of the Jet Blue terminal at JFK International, the demographic could be viewed as, literally everyone. There are International and Domestic travelers, young, old, tall, short, you name it. However, there are attributes that most travelers have in common. They’re tired, weary, they may be filled with anxiety for countless travel-related reasons, and most likely, their devices are dwindling. Escapism, as well as the practicalities of business, are accessible to the modern traveller primarily through the portal of their mobile device. In a desert of dehydrated batteries, “The Juice Bar” is a lush oasis.
DM is Fun
With the above commonalities in mind, Jet Blue has taken the time to provide their customers with the convenience of a free, tablet-equipped workspace, replete with numerous electrical outlets. There are parents whose toddlers are pre-tantrum, demanding their “Baby Shark” video. There are would-be Instagram Influencers, pre-tantrum, because they may go their entire layover without posting a selfie. There are people like you and me, just needing a charge, gosh darn it. So, which is more enticing? A sign that says “Workspace/Charging Outlets” that looks like it was issued by a government agency? Or a sign that beacons, “The Juice Bar”, proudly featuring the Jet Blue logo? The more no-nonsense among you might vote for the former, based on its clear, utilitarian nature. But, until utilitarian becomes revolutionary and everything is whimsical (for instance, when TSA starts playing burlesque music as one takes their shoes off, and puts their jackets in the bin) Disruptive Marketing isn’t utilitarian. It’s fun. So let yourself have some.
DM Makes People Think (And, Bonus: Laugh)
People (and by people in this case, I mean prospective customers) are complacent. They’re bombarded by messaging, and accustomed to the mundane. When messaging jumps out and surprises them, it wakes them up, they become aware of your message, and they’re more likely to remember it. In fact, DM may begin to change the marketing equation that says a message needs to touch a consumer 7 times before it gets noticed. Reaching your target market in this concentrated, interactive way is more meaningful. “The Juice Bar” takes a second to “get.” Once one realizes there’s no juice, in the traditional sense, and they get the pun, they’ve been engaged. They’ve been made to think. They feel smart. Funny is money. Laughter is an emotional, visceral response. How many times have you heard a joke and thought to yourself, “I wanna remember that one”, and even shared it with others? I’d almost wager that no great moment of knee-slapping jocularity ever began with a monotone “Hey, did you hear the one about the Workspace/Charging Outlet?” If humor isn’t appropriate for your message, work to elicit an emotion closer to your message. However, with a bit of brainstorming you may find that humor, however subtle, can be worked into nearly any situation. And in most cases, when done well, it’s a refreshing respite to all.
DM Makes People Feel
Yes, you want people to “feel” like they want to buy your product or service. But, chances are they have a choice in where they place their business. What will set you apart from your competitors? Your marketing should already focus on what makes you the most attractive choice for your target market. DM adds yet another persuasive layer. In the case of our case study, if the “Workspace/Charging Outlet” was right next to “The Juice Bar”, and you could observe that they were identical in utility, you might be likely to choose “The Juice Bar” for no other reason than that its witty play on words made you laugh. Similarly, if a marketing message makes you sad, grateful, angry, warm and fuzzy, you are in a way called to action. Even if you aren’t moved to buy a product, you’ve been moved to remember it. And that’s a wonderful first step. DM should feel like a risk, a little bit “can we really do this?” You’ll know you’re “doing it right” if you feel a bit outside your comfort zone. That’s what sets DM apart from its safe, non-disruptive marketing relatives.
You can make Disruptive Marketing work for you. Think about what makes you laugh, cry, and get inspired. What makes you feel? Your answers will likely be universal. Create concepts that feel connected to your audience. Disrupt the usual, and joyously break the rules. The new rules are open for discussion. So make your own. The perception of the word “disruptive” may evoke distress (thanks to elementary school disciplinarians), but Disruptive Marketing is unburdened by those connotations. Instead, think of it as synonymous with “surprising”, and Get Disruptive!