Marketing, innovation and a better mousetrap

Peter Drucker said:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Yet, time after time we see companies trot out responses to competition that aren’t much different than the competition. Witness the box like car pioneered by the Scion Xb, then the Honda Element, and now the Nissan Cube. Honda misjudged the primary market so badly for the Element- thinking young hipsters would be the primary market- and it ended up being a car for the practical geriatric set (don’t worry, Chrysler had the same experience with the PT Cruiser).

And then there is a crazy inventor named James Dyson. The man who made 5,127 prototypes before coming up with the vacuum that doesn’t lose suction as it does its job. Not only did the vacuum work better- it also looked better- bright yellow, in a land of beige and brown. It also proudly displayed your dirt- something other vacuums were skittish about.

He was able to charge a premium for his product, not because of better marketing, but because he had built a better product. How many times would I rather get a better product than a better advertising pitch: it’s a no brainer, every time.

Dyson Air Blade hand dryer

Dyson Air Blade hand dryer

But the key to the Dyson brand is that they’ve continued to offer products that don’t look or act like other products. Just adding a ball to the vacuum wasn’t enough, next came the hand dryer- the “Air Blade” the scraped the water off your hands with one simple swipe through a wall of super fast air. It cut the time to dry hands by a third compared to other air dryers.

Now, Dyson introduces a fan- like no other. And, while the fan looks different, works different, it also solves a major safety issue (which I only found out once I tweeted about it- and a friend instantly retweeted- kid safe, no fan blades).

Dyson Air Multiplier fan

Dyson Air Multiplier fan

Sure it costs about 10 times more than the fan you can get at the local superstore, but, that’s what real innovation does- it gives a business a distinct competitive advantage. Here is the description from Dyson:

The Dyson Air Multiplier™ fan works very differently to conventional fans. It uses Air Multiplier™ technology to draw in air and amplify it 15 times, producing an uninterrupted stream of smooth air. With no blades or grill, it’s safe, easy to clean and doesn’t cause unpleasant buffeting.

via Dyson Air Multiplier™ fan |

So, next time the client says “make the logo bigger” the correct response is “make the product better.”

Dyson understands what Peter Drucker preached. Innovation is better marketing.