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I had to get an iPad for a startup I’m working with. Despite my tireless dedication to their cause, I also tried to squeeze some pleasure from this adult toy. Like finding a Porsche on Gilligan’s Island, this sexy slab of tech taunted me – daring me to figure out why I needed it. I learned that I didn’t, but got a firsthand glimpse into first world suffering. A condition no amount of inspirational Facebook posts can cure. So here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all:
This is a repost of Steve Faktor’s original Forbes article
I’ll be first to admit that I’m a reforming “innovation” trollop. I’ve thrown the word around too lightly, at any old sailor. I need a hot shower and a Brillo pad… What’s so bad about “innovation”? It doesn’t mean much…and maybe never did. Today, we use it to describe an iPhone newsreader app and the reinvention of space travel by SpaceX. That’s more range than Meryl Streep. My business is about creating great products and services, so I look for great tech partners. Some are startups led by brilliant entrepreneurs, bursting with optimism and 5-Hour Energy. As they describe their app, game, or web service, their words scream Johnny Depp, but the reality is a bit more Judah Friedlander. No shame in that, but I sometimes wonder how we could get these brilliant minds to work on meatier problems. My concern isn’t for them, but for us. The US needs jobs and as I wrote in Econovation, the big numbers still come from physical, capital-intensive businesses. Here are three ways we can help make brilliant minds deliver bigger results.
As we play with our kids, dodge barbecue stains, and enjoy a mojito or three, you could hardly tell we’ve just been in two wars. We’d look more frazzled after a full day at Disney or the mall. I’m not saying we should spend today reciting the name of every fallen American hero; I do ask the comfy among us to consider what we’ve lost by becoming so detached - and why we won’t need a hot tub time machine to reverse it.
One thing that’s clear is we’ve come to expect lots of amazing things – almost instantly. Facebook, Google, news, games and Amazon’s free shipping are amazing. Our iPads and phones are flawless and infinitely molestable. We can enjoy them all from the comfort of the couch, as a local restaurant dispatches the hardworking Miguel to deliver our food. It’s a matter of time before he stays over to feed it to us. It’s all so perfect, so gratifying.
A few years ago, the New York subway system was plastered with ads for a drug called Claritin. Mostly, these were photos of lush, green landscapes and pretty models having some kind of ‘moment of clarity’. I had no idea what Claritin did, but I’d never seen a woman that full of clarity before. Too bad Claritin was hardly more effective than a sugar pill at treating allergies. You could have poured honey in your underwear and gotten the same results. Demand creation is not new, but it’s proven its resilience in a society flush with borrowed cash and surplus leisure time.
When you think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there’s little ambiguity at the bottom. Food, clothing, shelter. Without these, you are probably cold, naked, and cranky. Everything else is based on feelings and perceptions. Even safety is just a feeling that an invading army of Persians can’t take away your favorite skinny jeans and Weaver Chicken Nuggets. In markets where even the homeless have iPods (in France, they also have chambermaids), the challenge is to make you want things just because you can afford them.
Here is my list of the top ten triumphs of demand generation and why they worked: