Your Checklist for Staying Relevant in Business

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Last month, 7-Elevan convenience store chain announced a partnership with DoorDash to provide on-demand delivery service in five major U.S. markets, including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The move expands the customer value proposition and allows the chain to compete in an evolving market and stay relevant in an "Uberfied" society.
Customer Engagement

Last month, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain announced a partnership with DoorDash to provide on-demand delivery service in five major U.S. markets, including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The move expands the customer value proposition and allows the chain to compete in an evolving market and stay relevant in an "Uberfied" society.

In a world where consumer demands and expectations are on the rise, the value of brand relevance is a focal point for many companies like 7-Eleven.
At an Advertising Week event last week, Umang Shah, global director, digital marketing and innovation, at Campbell's, spoke about the ways in which a brand can stay relevant. He offered his "Perpetual Relevance Principles" and offered tangible takeaways to help businesses stay relevant. Here's what he had to say.

5 Perpetual Relevance Principles:

1. Hard decisions: It's important to look hard at a campaign and evaluate it on 'are we doing what's right or what's easy?' For instance, Noma, the best restaurant in the world is closing its doors for a year so they can innovate and continue to provide a product that's interesting. You don't do that by sitting around. It's a good lesson for everyone to learn.

2. Stay fearless: You have to become fearless before you stay fearless. If you look at start-ups they have no choice but to take risks. Look at Tesla. There are a million reasons why you shouldn't start a car company in your garage but they had a vision and didn't allow all those million reasons why they shouldn't do it to scare them away.

3. Audience above all: We talk a lot about content marketing and digital marketing. At the end of the day, it's about focusing on who you're trying to reach. In my current role at Campbell's, we're trying to create a platform that's dynamic for everyone with all these dials and levers we can pull to create a desired experience for our audience.

4. Brand above product: The old Apple ad for the Mp3 player that focused on the saxophonist rather than the product is still relevant today because it focuses on the experience of bringing music to where you are wherever you are.
5. Surround yourself with the right people: Whether it's the smartest talent or the right technology partners, you need to have smart people around the table. Choosing that team is important.

5 Tangible Takeaways to Becoming a Relevant Business:

1. Vote with your money: Create budgets and encourage your teams to invest in the right kinds of projects. For an Amazon Echo project we're working on, I chose to pull money away from an existing project. It felt like it was the best thing to capitalize on.

2. Force Failure: Everyone says you should encourage failure but it's important to take it a step further. I launched a marketing innovation lab. It's a space where we encourage our employees to come up with interesting ideas that wouldn't be included in annual operating plans. It encourages people to come up with new and interesting ways to connect with consumers. To ensure we get that thinking, we mandate a certain number of projects fail and put money behind ideas that are interesting and relevant. It's about creating that environment where people know that t's ok to take risks and fail.

3. Play the user card: Creating company purpose. Johnson and Johnson has the credo card. We should all play the user card. No matter what your title or roll is it's important to position yourselves as the advocate for the user. VMware, went from a company that created products to one that is accountable to shareholders. I was part of an internal consulting team whose entire purpose was to be the advocate for the consumer. We made sure the user experience was front and center of everything we did. You should empower your teams to say, 'that's great but who else cares?' Do our users care that we're creating a good experience for them? If you work at a place that doesn't care about that it's a place that's on its way out. It's really important for everyone to focus on the user and be comfortable saying, 'this doesn't make sense.'

4. Get out of the way: It's important for us as leaders to set a vision and then let it go. Sometimes it's externally. Coke let fans who love Coke so much build out its Facebook community. There's no sense of fighting the current. Let your teams run their ideas through even if they don't lead to the intended outcome.

5. Change the vernacular: We lost our way. It's not about digital marketing. It's about marketing and understanding the audience. Instead of creating new terms think about what the current terms mean. Google shut down the Google Glass project, but no one there thinks that Google Glass was a failure. They're rolling it out into all sorts of projects. It's just not in the manifestation that you see it in now. They're not in it to always succeed; they're in it to fund the right projects. They're forcing people to fail and giving them a safe place to try them out and get good learnings. Forget about failing and focus on how to redefine those terms. Get back to the core of marketing.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION