Detonate your World: Destructive Marketing

  • Jan 10, 2018

Destructive Marketing 101

To survive in business in 2018, take everything you thought you knew about your product or service and any advertising method you’ve ever used. Toss them together and light it all on fire. Then start over. Enter the era of destructive innovation, followed closely by destructive marketing.

Coined by a professor in 1997, destructive innovation is described by the Harvard Business Review as: “a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources successfully challenges established incumbent businesses. They overtake the market, succeed and become the new world order.”

ThinkDestructive Marketing

Netflix & Blockbuster Video– Remember driving to the video store to pick up VHS tapes, and later, DVD’s? You had to get there early if you wanted to watch a new release. Netflix streaming redefined movie night for millions of Americans.  

Uber Destructive InnovationUber & Yellow Cab – When was the last time you called a cab? How about an Uber? The company didn’t just introduce a competitor to the taxi market but turned the entire industry on its ear.

Apple Music & Tower Records – People were trolling Tower Records for albums when Apple introduced the iPod in 2001. Since that time, the company further destroyed the music- purchasing paradigm by creating a subscription-based service called Apple Music.

Destruction Defined

Destructive Marketing
Destructive Marketing Makes an Impact

Different than just coming up with a product or service to fit into a pre-existing category, destructive innovation redefines an entire industry. Then, its counterpart throws away the playbook to advertise the innovation. If this appears to be a risky business venture, consider the alternative – disbanding altogether once the old ways of doing things are abandoned in favor of a new playbook.

Consider these cautionary tales:

KodakKodak self destruction

In less than 20 years, camera and film manufacturer Kodak went from the fourth most valuable brand worldwide to bankruptcy. Why? Because they weren’t prepared for customers to stop buying film and switching to digital photography. The market disrupted and Kodak failed to adjust.


Reject the Status QuoOnce located on street corners across the country, Borders rose to the top of brick and mortar only to fall once e-book sales started eating into physical book profits. While their close competitor, Barnes & Noble, embraced the electronic trend, manufacturing an e-reader and massive quantities of digital content through Nook, Borders stubbornly held on to the belief that people would always prefer hard and soft cover books and merchandise over electronic iterations. The mistake ultimately led to their bankruptcy in 2011.

BlackberryRIM self destructed Destructive Marketing

Once in the hands of virtually every member of the C-Suite, Research in Motion (RIM)’s mobile demise dates to 2012. Blackberry is a prime example of an incumbent business being disrupted by enthusiastic newcomers with nothing to lose. BlackBerry’s success a decade ago made RIM executives complacent and conservative. While newcomers Apple and Android were eager to offer mobile alternatives, Blackberry officials feared the innovation of touchscreen display, holding so tightly to customers that they lost sight of the billions who would eventually enter the marketplace.

How to Craft a Destructive Strategy

Don't be afraid to changeTo employ disruptive innovation and marketing, companies need to change their business model, their outbound product or service, and the message they send to consumers.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson explains the freeform procedure like so: “Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there.” Richard Branson Disruptive Marketing

Don’t Get Destroyed; Self-Destruct

  • Use big data to evaluate where you are and consider where you want to go.
  • Think outside the box. Disruptive marketing is loud and sometimes obnoxious because it is bold enough to say what we are all secretly thinking.
  • Once you’ve come up with a big idea, plan how to share it, realizing that the new world of advertising is about conversations instead of narratives.
  • Tell stories instead of lecturing.Destructive Innovation Promo Products
  • Tangible items – Our client used these, also known as promotional products, to entice members to join their association. The client told us the items would be used at an event attended by clients who were interested in Cyber Security. They selected and ordered 500 of Vault RFID Security Backpacks. Not only were the backpacks used to secure new memberships but were such a hit, our client ordered more for their national trade association fair.

Promotional Itemsms-2

Remember that the best marketing takes place with tangible items a.k.a. promotional items shared in the real world or among groups of people (at conferences, trade shows, events). Experiences may be promoted online, but should take place in the real world. Digital methods should reflect (instead of replacing) whatever is happening in the physical realm.

Author of the book, Destructive Marketing, Geoffrey Colon, says this: “Although we certainly live more of our lives on the Internet as a society these days, because we are social animals, we crave shared experiences with people, in person.”

Unknown.pngAbout On Target Promotions


Need great ideas for helping to develop and maintain great relationships with prospects and current clients? We’ve got them! On Target Promotions, is a national promotional products and printing company with a creative edge to add impact and value to your programs. An agency without associated agency fees, we provide the most innovative and cutting edge products and service solutions through our Inland Empire offices. We help clients use marketing materials and promotional products as well as other media to design and secure quality marketing programs that meet their goals and exceed their expectations. Since we believe nothing is a greater reflection of success than a repeat customer, everything we do is designed with our clients in mind. Your focus is our goal. Call (951) 682-8427 or email us today to start your project.