The highlight of Day 2 of Forum 2017 kicked off with an engaging speech from Eric Ryan, the co-founder of Method, a soap company. As strange as it sounds to have a soap company founder speaking at a financial conference, which Eric addressed early on in his speech, his message was spot on and was clearly translated into our industry. As one of the founders, he was not necessarily passionate about soap but his assertion that an untapped opportunity existed to disrupt the industry by creating a unique product that customers would be emotionally invested in. Traditional soap companies leave a legacy of harm due to the toxins they produce. Method changed this. His premise makes total sense when comparing Method’s industry disruption to the financial industry. Banks and Credit Unions all have similar products, identical goal measurements, and the same model. So how do you differentiate yourself in a ‘Sea of Sameness’ in a price sensitive market?
1. Everything starts with culture
In an effort to create one seamless culture, Method has created some unique tactics:
○ Company huddles every Monday morning
○ Shoutouts of Awesomeness
○ Embrace ‘Weird’ by showing up as your personal self, not your professional self
○ Lean more on ‘Design Thinking’ rather than ‘Business Thinking’
○ Have incredible imagination
Wrapping all of these values up, you truly get a vision of what it’s like to work for Method. Rapid growth often leads to a culture identity; however, Method’s mantra basically suggests that the bigger we get, the smaller we act. Associates can rally around these types of company values.
2. Win on product
In order to compete against the “big boys” you must get the product right. Eric talked about some of the missteps along the way but when you are obsessed about your product and innovate with aesthetics, you provide a compelling reason for consumers to buy.
3. Inspire advocates
Everything at Method is about the brand, even down to the tone of emails. The company wants people to have a positive feeling about their brand and this is accomplished through the idea that Marketing is not a department, it’s a company. A prime example of this thought is taking a look at Soul Cycle, a company focusing on exercise and wellness. Their customers talk about their experience non-stop. They love it even when they hate it.
So how do we take a stale industry, just on the verge of disruption, and create an affinity similar to Method?