While I was at the Playboy Mansion interviewing Heidi Klum was as much of a mystery to me as anyone. I was working on a project to help the sport of bowling. My client had a bowling ball made with the famous Playboy bunny logo on it, hence the involvement of Heidi and the folks at Playboy.
One side note - I happen to have spent much time over the past seven years helping Ebonite International market bowling balls and other consumer products. The industry has a substantial problem: they are losing league bowlers. They have a dire need to grow the sport.
Anyhoo...Heidi (we are now on a first name basis) was perplexed at why I was agonizing over what to do. She thought the product was cool. My problem was I didn't understand how a simple ball design would make people want to bowl more. Help me Heidi!
"This ball can make people feel sexy," she said.
"Uh, sure Heidi. One problem. Bowling is not sexy. It's nachos, pitchers of beer, loud crashing noises and lots of other things. People do not think bowling is sexy."
"Well isn't that what smart marketing is supposed to do; make people think differently about something than they did before? If it were only about reinforcing current behavior we really would have no need to spend millions of dollars on advertising would we?"
Wow. So simple but so true. I had become so focused on the rules of engagement prescribed by years of marketing to "bowlers", that I was unable to look outside the norm.
Okay, for clarity, the above scenario did occur this week - in a dream. I guess between my work related activity in bowling and watching re-runs of Project Runway (it was with my wife I promise) the two topics fused together to create a really cool project work-start meeting in the Playboy Mansion.
Nonetheless, there's a cool lesson. As marketers, we can sometimes be bold just by changing the rules. There's a great book about this very idea called Beyond Disruption. It's all about identifying the rules of conventional thinking and creating methods for disrupting and standing out. That's the whole point of building a memorable brand!
Now I must dig out of this dream with my loving, beautiful and understanding wife Dolly.