CTAM Summit: Take chances to differentiate, keynote speaker says

The best way to differentiate products and services is to ignore what the competition is doing and what customers are saying and "embrace crazy and stupid ideas," Youngme Moon, a Harvard professor and author of the book Different--Escaping the Competitive Herd told a semi-receptive, semi-shocked audience of cable television marketers during a keynote address at the CTAM Summit in New Orleans.

Moon laid out a strategy for typically cautious cable programmers and marketers that encouraged risk and the development of a "culture where (outrageous) ideas have a chance of survival."

Urging the audience to be passionate, Moon pointed out that "passion can elevate itself into the realm of the magical."

While there were no audible gasps at her suggestions and even a few nervous chuckles, the keynote, which highlighted off-the-wall marketing and customer retention campaigns from the likes of IKEA, Mini Cooper and Apple, seemed to keep the audience off-balance with perspectives that contradicted what they've been taught to believe.

"If you want to be different you have to be willing to embrace your negatives," she said. "The genius is in the negative."

The genius of a successful marketing campaign, she said, is going a different route than anyone else--and that anyone else might consider. Rather than watching the competition to see what it's doing or listening to what customers want, she said that successful marketers will go out on the edge.

"There is no formula of how to be different," she said, she said, while urging the marketers to "double down on your strengths--truly differentiating from your competitors."

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