At the conclusion of our kick-off meeting earlier this month the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at a global, multi-billion dollar professional services company looked at me and said, “You know, Marc. I am impressed with how you have reinvented your business. This is an important project for us, so I am excited to be working with your firm.”
These were words of praise indeed. Especially when the source is someone you have known and respected professionally for more than a decade.
The reason for the CMO’s admiration is the transformation Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has made during the past seven years from a boutique, media-centric public relations consultancy to a provider of a unique and high value marketing service commonly referred to as Web2Sales.
I’ll refrain from hyping the business case for and resulting ROI from Web2Sales. You can find that on our corporate Web site or on Modern Marketing Today, an online magazine for business-to-business marketers and sales professionals.
Rather, I want to touch on the importance of innovation and reinvention for business sustainability. I was reminded of that this week when reading through the May/June 2016 issue of Chief Executive Magazine, which included an article by William Holstein entitled Disrupt Yourself – Before Someone Else Does.
Of particular note was the case study about Play-Doh, a Hasbro brand and product line that dates to the mid 20th century. Holstein writes:
One of fastest-growing brands within Hasbro, ironically, is Play-Doh, which has existed for 60 years. ‘We looked at the present, selectively forgot the past and imagined the future,’ (Hasbro CEO) Brian Goldner says. ‘You look around the world and people are very focused on helping their children to concentrate on achieving development milestones.’
So Hasbro developed playsets and figurines to sell with the Play-Doh itself, allowing children to do things such as build a village or an imaginary scene. That enhances their creativity and story-telling capabilities, encouraging parents to buy more.
In short, the company reimagined how Play-Doh could be used. As a result, Play-Doh sales grew more than 30 percent last year and have doubled in size over the past three years.
Strategic’s story of reinvention is not without flaws and set-backs. Perhaps most significant has been the sales and marketing challenge that comes with introducing and educating an executive audience about a differentiated approach.
I suspect that if we had maintained a public relations focus our near-term revenue (and profits) would have been more stable. Yet, the future would be no where as bright, shiny and exciting as it is today – for the company and its employees.
That’s what innovation and reinvention are all about.