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Automotive marketing has traditionally seen innovation as something that is incremental. I have observed in my career as an automotive marketing specialist something pretty common in our industry, and probably in most industries, and that is we constantly strive to be different from or to outdo our competition.

What already exists

We usually start with what already exists, and either make some small improvement, or in some cases we throw the baby out with the bath water and make big freaking changes. We tweak here and there, add a feature or two or three or… you get the drift. Then we figure out, as all good marketers do, ways to get people (maybe you!) to notice how we’re different so we can convince them (or you!) to buy our marketing products, services, or for many here it’s to get people to buy your cars.

What does it mean to be different?

This mindset and process repeats itself every day, and over time has conditioned us to believe that the way to succeed is to have an advantage, to be different, to be better. But what does it really mean to be different? It means standing out, being a step ahead of the competition, raising the bar. Ultimately though, it means being on the same page as the competition with whom you are gauging yourself.

Umm… what about being different?

What if we quit striving to be different and saw things from a different perspective? Radical thought isn’t it? Stay with me.

What if instead of being different, we started by creating difference? What if we began re-imagining our customer’s problem or need and then decide that we will do whatever it takes to be the one to solve their problem? This approach redefines the rules of the game and leads to the creation of new innovations, ideas and solutions. It opens the door to seeing new opportunities to grow, improve, and yes, to making real difference.

Lately in my meetings with some customers across the country this approach has opened up new ideas that meet their needs in ways I wouldn’t have seen before. It’s not about being different, it’s about creating difference. It isn’t about being the person with the best idea; it’s being the person who has the greatest understanding of what really matters to people.

Isn’t this what really matters? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s work together on a winning marketing plan.