One morning recently, I woke up to a post by a friend on one of the social media platforms which read, “ I feel so much smarter already today, the internet is filled with a lot of knowledge and wise people”.
Immediately, I sent a message saying; “I felt the same way this morning, I woke up to so much information and wise quotes”.
In a world where so many people seem to be philosophers and motivational speakers most likely because of the available platforms for communication and the growth in the culture of self-expression through these platforms, I did not want to give this piece the title; U- Matter (U, being a representation of the word, You) because I felt it would sound like a motivational phrase which would make me look like another one of the self-acclaimed online motivational speakers. What some people in Lagos call the aspire to inspire people. This is a term mockingly used to describe motivational speakers because of how often they use the words “aspire” and “inspire” without necessarily delivering relevant content.
However, I will tell you what I mean by U-Matter in marketing and innovation.
Simply put, U-Matter means a person’s point of view, opinions, challenges, aspirations, needs and experiences matter. They are valid and important in marketing and innovation.
I will briefly discuss a few elements to which the concept of U-Matter applies.
This is a term that has been partly made popular by the late Clay Christensen who was a Professor at Harvard Business School and was known for his theories on disruptive strategy and innovation. Clay defined a Job-To-Be-Done in the context of innovation as a problem a person is trying to solve.
One of the key cues he gave for this was for people to reflect deeply on their personal experiences and identify their challenges, needs and goals.
A good example is the case of Sara Blakely and SPANX. Sara is the founder and CEO of Spanx, Inc., an American underwear manufacturing company focused on shaping briefs and leggings.
In clips from a Masterclass, Sara stated that she believes everyone has a million-dollar idea which can be derived from deep reflections on their personal challenges and needs.
She started SpanX as a frustrated consumer who simply wanted to wear a pair of white pants to a party and not have anything show underneath her pants. She was able to turn her personal need into a million-dollar business through one key principle which I call “I am a sample size”. This means if I have a problem or a job to be done, it is very like a lot of people have the same job to be done, which presents an opportunity for business or innovation. Therefore, I-Matter.
Surveys and Feedback
In Market Research, surveys are carried out by observing, interviewing, or getting feedback from a group of subjects that are selected from the general population and is considered a representative of the real population for that specific study.
It is almost impossible for everybody to have the same satisfaction level and opinion of brands, products, and services.
So, if a survey is carried out and most of the results are positive, do not totally discountenance the opinion of the seeming minority. Each person is representative of maybe ten, one hundred or a thousand people. This may not mean that these people have the right deduction or assessment of a brand, product, or service but it could be indicative of an opportunity for improvement or a new approach to engagement and communication. So, they do matter
Creativity is a subject that is very vast and not really governed by any set of rules. However, the same personal approach and looking through the lens of an individual offers a low hanging fruit.
It is often said that we are a product of our society and experiences, and it is within this frame of culture and events that lie deep, relevant, and unique ideas, stories, and creative expressions.
A few examples of authors, musicians and comedians that have leveraged societal, cultural and person experiences in their craft and creative process come to mind.
Mario Puzo was an American author and screen writer of Italian descent. He was known for his crime novels about Italian American Mafia families, most notably The God Father. In these bestselling novels, Mario Puzo did not necessarily write about his personal experiences but about the Italian culture especially as regards the mafia. The World’s fascination with these stories crafted around these elements and culture brought him large success.
Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Robert (Bob) Nesta Marley and Tupac Amaru Shakur are great examples as well. The art of these three music icons are largely characterized by their personal experiences and societies which largely revolved around social injustice, corruption, discrimination, and gender inequality.
And last but not the least, Kevin Hart, one of the world’s leading comedians has made a fortune and amassed a huge following by telling a lot of his personal experiences as content for his shows.
Simply put, everyone’s life, relationships, experiences, and perception of culture form the basic seed for creativity.
How this is interpreted, expressed, or brought to life is a different story.
Like they say the dream is free, but the hustle (in this case the marketing, product development, storytelling, or creative expression) is sold separately.
Written by Victor Bara-Hart.