Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thinking From Outside The Box.

Thinking outside the box is a phrase that has always annoyed me because it conflates two very different problem-solving approaches.

If you think the box is the problem, then you should be discarding it completely rather than merely thinking outside it (with the incremental change that implies). On the other hand, if you're happy with the box but need to approach it in a different way, you could quite profitably focus on thinking inside the box rather than engage in flights of fancy outside it. But, as the following example will show, you crucially need to do that thinking from outside of the box.

Rather than assume that technology has destroyed the "box" marked newspaper production, my friends at Newspaper Club have re-thought the box and acknowledged that is has definite customer benefits in terms of design potential, tactility and portability. By combining that insight with the spare capacity of digital printing presses and some new technology, they will soon be able to let anyone create their own small-run "newspaper" for whatever purpose they choose.

Their initial efforts have been things of beauty and people are lining up to create "newspapers" as promotional giveaways, wedding souvenirs and product samplers. But not everybody gets it - as this comment on a tech-site illustrates.

Ok, how much do you pay for something like this? Would having ads in distract you? Would they distract if they cut down on the cost? How often would you buy it?

If you're a writer, what sort of compensation would you want from an ongoing newspaper such as this.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea and it's great to see how they did it, but am I curious how much cost and how long it took to do. There's a lot of steps between a one off and regularly published newspaper like this.

That's static inside the box thinking - where your product/service/market is defined by WHAT it is and what it has always been. By contrast, you can build in agility, dynamism and a degree of future-proofing - simply by defining the product/service/market in terms of WHY it is. By thinking from outside of the box.


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