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Why Disruption Doesn’t Happen Overnight



Not every business is slated to become the next Uber or Airbnb, but many companies could sacrifice a great campaign trying. Being a disruptor, or upending the usual course of business for an industry, requires skill, stamina, and an accurate analysis of your target audience. It also requires immense conviction and an unwavering belief in your message.

Here’s where some firms go wrong:

Don’t Overuse the Word

The first mistake “disruptors” make is mistaking themselves for a disruptor. Not everyone is on track to change the status quo and that’s okay. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Don’t Let Inner Doubt Become a Liability

Brace yourself for naysayers. Don’t let perceived weakness or self-doubt compromise your message delivery. Standing out requires more conviction than usual, and the public face of confidence to go along with it.

Kara Goldin, was named as one of six disruptors by the Huffington Post for her $90 million beverage company, hint Inc., which produces flavored waters without any sweeteners or artificial ingredients. Her company bucks a trend in the beverage industry with its social mission of advocating for healthy eating and holding companies responsible for educating consumers about what’s in their products. Early on, she was told her business would never succeed, that Americans would reject unsweetened drinks, and that no one would invest in her because she’s a mom. “All of the naysayers have been debunked. And I knew they would be. You have to trust your gut, and never let anyone steer you away from what you know to be true,” she wrote in Forbes.

Don’t Expect to Become an Overnight Sensation

Not every company will have a meteoric rise or become an instant star. Changing opinions or prevailing attitudes can take years, and so can getting a consumer market accustomed to a new way of doing things.

Related: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Clarity and Simplicity of Words

Gary Pisano, the Harry E. Figgie Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, writes in The Harvard Business Review  that our focus is often consumed by the potential for start-ups to become multi-billion enterprises.

That, however, blinds us to the true trajectory of a disruptive innovator, which indicates the “vast majority of profit from innovation does not come from the initial disruption; it comes from the stream of routine, or sustaining, innovations that accumulate for years (sometimes decades) afterward.”

It is your ability to nurture this competitive “rapid evolutionary” process that determines your success, he says.

And in the same way your innovation shouldn’t begin with a splash, then peter off, your messaging shouldn’t either. Think of your brand and your story as a slow, kinetic force that builds over time, and holds the power to mobilize the masses.

You need consistent, original content to create a reliable presence. You should embrace clear, potent language that showcases your core attributes and strengthens your brand, but also evolves to reflect new strategies and industry transformations.

You should also incorporate new tactics to reach your target market as they emerge on social media platforms and other channels. As these platforms expand with more users and more companies vying for their attention, your voice will become less amplified. Your message needs to work harder to rise above the din.

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