Blog post

Want to Innovate? Start with a Flip

By Jake Sorofman | April 09, 2013 | 1 Comment

digital marketing

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George commits to follow the inverse of his thinking? He concludes that his instincts are so wholly wrong that they are exactly diametrical to the right answer.

They’re right, but in precisely the wrong direction.

It’s a silly example, but there’s probably some inspiration to be drawn from my all-time favorite sitcom antihero. If you look at the state of business today, the most powerful disruptions often start with a flip:

  • Open source flipped traditional software business models by making software development a community effort—and software itself a community asset—and monetizing different parts of the value chain. Today, Red Hat is a billion dollar company and high-growth startups like Acquia, Puppet Labs and SugarCRM are proving that the business model can be replicated. (But the open source concept is not limited to software; here’s a great example of open source thinking applied to a business with pre-industrial roots).
  • Inbound approaches to sales and marketing flipped the focus from finding prospects to getting found—when prospects are ready to buy. Today, very few new ventures or projects are funded without some element of inbound thinking embedded into their demand creation strategy.
  • Social media flips the engagement with consumers from brand monologues to community dialogues, which creates massive leverage in cost and reach over traditional media distribution.
  • Content curation flips the focus from creating original content to curating third-party content, allowing brands to utilize community contribution as the basis for its own storytelling.
  • Self publishing flips the publisher-controlled book distribution model from top-down to bottom-up, enabling that dusty manuscript to finally find its audience and giving rise to the e-book movement.
  • Brand publishing flips influence marketing from media-mediated to audience-direct, allowing brands to tell their stories and to influence the discourse by becoming publishers in their own right.

What does this mean for the digital marketer? The best solution is often the inverse of the traditional view. To stimulate fresh thinking, simply consider the other side of the coin. (But remember that flipping your thinking isn’t the same thing as flipping a coin.)

It may all sound vaguely Seinfeldian, but sometimes the best solution is the exact opposite of traditional thinking. So, when you’re looking for an innovative answer, start with a flip.

What are your favorite flips?


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1 Comment

  • Chris says:

    How about a failed flip? Companies have been tackling Business Intelligence for years with proprietary, internal data sets and pulling their hair out in the process to get to the key insights they need for better decisions. Along comes big, open, unstructured data to the rescue with the promise that bigger data would mean better insights… Jury is still out on that one.
    Good article to get us thinking about the disruptions that are shaping the marketing world…thanks.