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The Marketplace is Deaf

Tom Asacker writes and teaches about radically new practices and ideas for marketplace success in times of uncertainty and change. He is the author of critically acclaimed books including his latest, Opportunity Screams, and A Clear Eye for Branding. He is a former General Electric executive, recipient of the George Land Innovator of the Year Award, and a former high-tech business owner. A popular speaker, Tom lectures to corporations, associations, and university audiences around the world, and works confidentially with executives and management teams at a number of top companies. Visit tomasacker.com to learn more.

I’ve heard a lot of speakers over the past year or so implore their audiences to pay no mind to the lessons of Steve Jobs and Apple.

“There’s only one Apple,” they spout. “The company is an outlier. You can’t be like them, so it’s best to ignore them.”

I implore you to ignore those speakers.

Apple is an exemplar in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace; a marketplace deaf to me-too brands and listless, promotional appeals. Apple is vibrant. Apple makes noise. Apple knocks down the doors of conventional thinking.

There is nothing inherently sexy about computers and cell phones. And despite the belief of the digerati, Steve Jobs was not a god.

In fact, there are no innately “high interest” or “low interest” categories. It’s the performance of the brand that makes it emotionally relevant and meaningful . . . or not.

Steve Jobs viscerally understood the marketplace. It was his exhilaration with uncertainty and insistence on creativity and attention to detail, which turned Apple into the world’s most valuable company.

How about sneakers and coffee? C’mon. Thirty years ago they were uninspiring commodities. Body wash and energy drinks didn’t exist. Computers were business machines. Shoe stores? Certainly not subject matter candidates for best-selling business books.

I am so sick of hearing the “we’re not sexy” argument that organizations use to remain comfortable and mediocre. Anything can be made cool and culturally relevant. It’s not what you have to work with; it’s whether or not you have the will to do the work.

I remember watching a gem of a movie about a guy in a box. The entire movie was filmed “inside a box.” One on-screen actor . . . in a freakin’ box . . . for 95 minutes!

Is your product or service–your idea–more constrained than that? I didn’t think so.

What’s choking the life and passion out of your idea–and your people–is your constrained, “low interest” thinking.

Get out of your box! Get into your box! Whatever. But for the sake of your people, your business, and your sanity, get out of your rut and back into a groove.

Take some of that cash you’re sitting on and create something unique, inspiring, and meaningful. Try something new. Stand for something original and special.

Make no mistake: Creativity is the acid-test for strategy in today’s marketplace. Re-imagine your business. Knock down the doors of convention.

And knock hard: the marketplace is deaf.

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