These counter-intuitive business stories are the stuff of ingenuity, and they lead to innovation, change, and outsized results.
Mind the Gaps: How Peloton, Warby Parker, Lagunitas, and Converse Asked the Big Questions that Changed their Markets
If you’re a marketer, it’s a good time to look for gaps. We live in an age of asymmetrical advantage, and emerging companies have access to the same computing power, networks, and channels that everyone else does.
Tune into this Unconventionals episode to hear how finding the right gaps can propel a business and change a market. Look at the beer market—5,000 breweries today vs. 90 in in 1985. Market gaps are buyer needs exposed, and gaps often begin as questions. You’ll hear the questions directly from the founders of Lagunitas, Peloton, and Warby Parker: Why do eyeglasses have to be so expensive? Why did American beer have to be so boring for much of the 20th century? PJA’s Mike O’Toole and Robert Davis will talk about how to find the questions that can unleash your own business.
IBM’s Watson: the Making of an AI Brand
Artificial Intelligence may be all the rage, but that doesn’t make it easy to market. The voices on AI range from Alexa (powered by) to Zuckerberg (defender of), which means it’s hard to get a bead on what AI means. And AI gets a bad rap, branded as a job killer or more ominously, a threat to the human race.
How do you launch an AI brand in this environment? What responsibility does a company have for taking on some of the big questions about artificial intelligence? How do you help navigate a market through change, especially when that change is such high stakes? And what should an AI brand look, sound, and act like? We tackle all of that and more in our conversation with Jon Iwata, who heads up brand marketing at IBM.
Take a listen to our talk with Jon and find out what’s next for IBM be sure to sign up for future updates from The Unconventionals.
Who in the world are we? Ancestry and the DNA moment
We are in the midst of a big cultural moment for finding our roots. The moment is enabled by science for sure. DNA tests are simple and cheap--they'll run you about 100 bucks. But it's also driven by a deeper hunger for connection. It's in the zeitgeist, and conversations about identity are everywhere. We're more global than ever but nationalist strains are running high. In unsettled times, who we are and where we come from are big questions.
Some of our favorite Unconventionals conversations are with companies that tap into culture and influence it in positive ways. In this episode, we talk with Ancestry, the brand who is right in the middle of this big cultural moment. Take a listen to this conversation with CMO Vineet Mehra and be sure to sign up for future updates from The Unconventionals.
Data, Secrets, and Human Performance: Why Professional Athletes Love the Whoop Strap
According to Whoop founder Will Ahmed, our bodies are keeping secrets. Those secrets hold the key to human performance, and the Whoop Strap unlocks them. It’s a big claim, but one that LeBron James, Michael Phelps and hundreds of professional athletes are validating in their everyday use.
In this Unconventionals interview, we discuss how Whoop’s device and their strategy upends category conventions. By helping athletes perform better vs. counting their steps, they found an opening—call it a Darwinian Gap—in the market. Whoop's focus on big data and even bigger outcomes keeps pro athletes coming, and helps the company rise above the fitness tracker fray.
If you’re interested in performance, new ways to use data or how to stand out in a crowded market, take a listen.
The Crazies: How GE, Waze, and Big Ass Fans Enlist an Army of Advocates
B2B is always about change—reframing how people buy, introducing an innovation, or getting people to think about your company in new ways. You can increase your chances of success by getting change agents on board—the subset of your market who are the most likely to share and drive your agenda. Finding your crazies makes your market smaller—and means you can stop wasting money reaching audiences who don’t care. We’re not talking about traditional influencer marketing, which too often means renting other people’s audience and cachet. Crazies are the people whose professional success or personal passion aligns closely with yours—whether they know it or not. For most companies, these key audiences are sitting on the sideline, but with the right approach they can help you succeed. In this episode, we revisit how brands such as GE, Waze, Organovo, Big Ass Fans, and Evernote were able to capture this crucial portion of their audience in order to grow.
Peloton and the Fitness Experience That Won’t Quit
Peloton is becoming one of the hottest brands in fitness, and it all starts with an extraordinary experience. Stripped down, the company sells you a cycle in your home and spinning classes delivered through the internet. But it adds up to something new and different: an addictive fitness regimen that almost no one who starts wants to stop. In this episode of The Unconventionals, we talk to founder Tom Cortese to find out how Peloton got there. The company stitched together several business models—talent management, logistics, software, hardware, internet content—to deliver an experience that makes you “want to want to work out.” Peloton has also figured out how to engage their “crazies”—their most loyal customers—to spread the word and grow the business. There is a tribal, family element that gathers around each Peloton instructor, to the point where many fans have opened Facebook groups for their favorite coaches and many coaches have their own clothing lines. You’ll hear the customer perspective directly from PJA’s own Jeff Porzio. He’ll help us understand how the company has earned a Net Promoter Score of 91—we can’t find another company that comes close.
Is it possible to "binge-watch" a podcast?!
"The Unconventionals" is like a cross between a TED Talk, "This American Life," and a "Before They Were Stars" for brands. I'm constantly impressed with the business brains this show pulls -- GE's Linda Boff, the Dollar Shave Club guy, the Warby Parker guy, et al. And the shows are really smartly written, too...meaning they're thought-provoking and informative but entertaining to boot. It's like binge-watching a great Netflix series but actually feeling good about yourself after.
Can't Stop Listening
This is one of the best podcasts I have listened too. In depth yet entertaining, story driven while factually based. You will want to listen to every episode more than once!
Great job ya'll!
This podcast is pretty informative on how different companies handle business in interesting ways. The craft beer episodes were my favorite!