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This Week in Business and Brands: Transformational Relationships, Fidget Toys, and More

Sound Strategy: Ditch the Flings for an LTR

Every brand can talk a big innovation game, but creating truly new initiatives is often easier said than done. Feeling stumped and looking for fresh opportunities? Perhaps it’s time for a strategic relationship with another company, proving “two brains can be better than one” in an effort to really evolve both businesses. But let’s be clear: we’re not talking about a partnership, which is simply transactional – we’re talking about a genuine, long-term relationship, which is transformational, creating “something you wouldn’t be able to do by yourself.” Such love stories abound in the platform world, where companies like Spotify, Uber, and Tesla are forging strong connections with other brands (as well as their own employees and customers) in order to create the best of all worlds. So how can your team go about it? First, change your thinking from one-off flash opportunities to a long-view growth perspective. Then, make sure your visionary leaders have a real, vested interest in each other’s success. Finally, be realistic about your resources, and take ownership to execute. With proper courting, this strategy could very well be the start of a beautiful friendship…

Learning the Hard Way: The Slump of Sears

They say every failure is an education in disguise – fortunately, a more comfortable “crash” course comes from watching the demise of others instead of going through your own. The latest lesson comes from the imminent curtain call for the long-suffering Sears, whose downfall over the years has been constant and seemingly unstoppable. But why should one retail giant be forever toppling while its rival, Wal-Mart, has grown its combined square footage enough to literally cover all of Manhattan? Ironically, it began with the ill-fated decision in the 1980s to prioritize real estate over optimizing actual retail. Then, negligence about “spiffing up the place” meant a lack of appeal to a younger customer base, who sought wares elsewhere for a finer in-store experience. But according to one spokesman, not all hope is lost, believing a transformation to “make shopping easier” is in store: “The key is to truly integrate the shopping channels…it’s not just one thing anymore.” Time will tell whether that insight is arriving 30 years too late…

Talking Tactics, Tête-à-Tête: Clean Data = Clean Homes

Scrubbing through big data takes a lot more than elbow grease. But for the home-cleaning start-up Handy, that’s exactly what allowed for pristine scaling in the 5 years since its founding. Have a listen to CEO and Founder Oisin Hanrahan come clean on how the brand went about its successful growth:

  • On using modern tech tools to scale: “So many of the things that you need have come about in the last five years. Things like geolocation and data being standard on the smartphone; mobile payment; background checks on demand. That is what creates this opportunity.”
  • On the power of the platform: “There’s this flywheel, the more availability we have, the easier it is for us to get customers. The same is true of professionals…there is this natural liquidity effect in each market.”
  • On maintaining those dynamic relationships: “Our team has engineers, product folks and data scientists who are actively working through exactly how many folks we should onboard at any moment in time, how to optimize that funnel. It’s a very, very delicate process. There’s quite a lot of science.”

Facing the (Near) Future: Sci-Fi Comes Home

Usually when we talk about the amazing technology the future holds, we’re looking way farther than 3 years from now. But at News Corp.’s “Home of the Future” installation, it seems like 2020 is already packed with plenty of astounding gizmos and gadgets for residents around the world. How about a kitchen that concocts recipes based on what’s in your fridge? Or robot cats and augmented reality screens? You might think the exhibit is just for fun and games, but as the agency behind the project asserts: “Home is the next and most powerful marketing canvas…we are stepping towards a new ecosystem of machines, screens and devices, where brands can share stories with consumers in their homes.” So, marketers – are you planning for that not-so-distant future?

Innovation Devastation: Patent or Perish

That’s all for this week! We’ll leave you with this cautionary tale behind the fidget spinner’s inventor, whose failure to file meant missing out on millions…