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Three Questions with Marketing Expert Max Valiquette

Three Questions with Marketing Expert Max Valiquette

Named one of Canada’s “most influential Marketers” by Marketing Magazine, Max Valiquette has sat at the forefront of what’s now, what’s new, and what’s next for more than 20 years.

An award-winning marketer and market researcher, Max has worked with some of the biggest companies in the world to transform their organizations, their businesses, and their brands to not only keep them relevant today, but also into the future.

We stepped into his world to ask three quick questions on disruption and how it’s changing business as we know it.

1. So, what exactly is the difference between innovation and disruption? We’re hearing both words all the time, used almost interchangeably. Are they just different ways of saying the same thing?

We often speak of disruption and innovation as being very similar, even though they aren’t. The term “disruptive innovation” gets thrown around, too. What’s a forward-thinking business-type to do?

Innovation and disruption exist on the same spectrum — either way, we’re talking about transformation for growth — but they are each very much things of their own.

Innovation is a process that any business should embrace to make sure that they matter as much tomorrow as they do today, or matter even more. Innovation is what we say when we speak of making changes in something that’s already there, via the introduction of something new. But it isn’t wholesale change in the very fabric of a business or a category.

Disruption, in business, is also about change that leads to growth. But unlike innovation, which involves the evolution of something that already exists, disruption implies wholehearted displacement. An entirely new way of doing something to meet the needs of a customer or target, as opposed to making alterations — however significant — to an existing model that is left intact.

The best way to show how different these two concepts are is to use Netflix as an example. You all know Netflix, that thing you curse at because you need to get up early the next morning but you also need to binge just *one* *more* *episode* of something? It started out as a disruptor, offering a marked alternative to Blockbuster in that it still rented out DVDs but it did so with a subscription service — one monthly fee, as many movies or shows as you could watch — and crucially, it sent these discs right to your home based on a list you updated online. That was disruption; and the bricks and mortar part of the home entertainment rental service has now all but disappeared.

Since then, Netflix has kept on innovating — tweaking and evolving to provide more entertainment options, directly to our homes. When the Internet grew fast enough for streaming, Netflix offered that; when we started watching on our tablets and phones, Netflix offered that.; And, when they figured out people would watch Netflix original content, they innovated to offer that, too. Now here they are with a bucketful of Emmys — and even a handful of Oscars for their film, Roma.

All of that is innovation, and it’s critical for them moving forward as they continue to matter to their customers and stay a step ahead of their competition. But Netflix couldn’t exist to innovate and re-innovate without that initial piece of disruption.

2. What industries are due for disruption today?

Disruption tends to occur when one of two things — sometimes both — are prevalent in an industry: if there is a lot of waste (that’s wasted money, resources, time, anything), or if there is an opportunity to put more control in the hands of the consumer. Consumers want more control — more customization, more personalization, and, maybe more than anything, the removal of pain points (sometimes even the ones we didn’t know were there until a new disruptive business showed us how unnecessary they were). New businesses can disrupt existing industries by finding ways to eliminate waste. To make use of inventory when no one else could, to save us time that we were spending needlessly, to reformat how a supply chain operates, or how something is made so that it is significantly less expensive. Disruption loves putting control in the hands of the end user; disruption hates waste.

So what industries are due for disruption? Look for anything that feels like it’s holding on to a functional model that feels slower than it should be; to any industry that is offering less than individually tailored experiences, that is charging too much because there is too much waste, and/or that is forcing their customers to engage on the business’ terms, rather than their own.

Ride-sharing isn’t just successful because it’s cheaper than taxis, Uber disrupted the transportation market because they saw that consumers wanted to “call” for a car through an app, quickly and simply, without having to remember a phone number or spend time talking to someone; that we wanted to see how close our ride was and therefore not spend time waiting around; and that we wanted to have that ride automatically connected to our credit cards, removing the clunky pain point of carrying cash or dealing with more antiquated credit card systems in cabs. Uber gave us control.

But Uber also saw what was being wasted: a huge fleet of private cars with their own private drivers, sitting idle when they could have been chauffeuring riders to and fro. That was a massive waste of resources — cars aren’t meant to be idle, and people don’t want to be sitting around when they could be making money. So, Uber built a very successful, disruptive business off of all that unused inventory and all of that waste.

3) And what industries specifically do you see as being disrupted soon?

Here’s three picks that aren’t financial services and automotive, because everyone is talking about them already:

  1. Weddings. You heard me. Weddings, in North America, made more than 80 billion USD industry last year, up by around five billion from the year before. But even as we’re spending more on weddings, themselves, we’re spending less on wedding planners than we used to. Millennials and Gen Z are much more DIY about this sort of thing than previous generations — they’re used to Evites and Facebook Events, and are already handling much of this sort of thing with the aid of some tech, usually in the form of an app. The wedding business is ripe for some sort of disruption.
  2. Law. It’s simply too traditional not to be disrupted. There will always be lawyers (there will always be lots of lawyers!) but the legal industry will face its first real disruptive threats in the near future, as technology, and AI in particular, changes how expensive and accessible a “lawyer” can be (especially for simpler legal tasks).
  3. Health. Healthcare is changing and, in some cases, is already being disrupted by non-traditional medicines. But traditional medicine is due for some disruption, too. Wearables, in particular, are going to change how we’re monitored, diagnosed, and from whom we expect our front-line healthcare. Visiting a traditional doctor’s office has been ripe for disruption for some time and an older, less mobile population who are able to wear devices that provide a fair amount of data could change how and when we need to “see” our doctors.

An innovation, transformation, and marketing expert, Max Valiquette’s presentations are filled with eye-opening information and insights, actionable recommendations, extremely engaging entertainment, and customized content. His favourite thing in the world – after his family and the 1994 Montreal Expos – is to connect with an audience and help them learn, transform, and prosper.

Interested in learning more about Max and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].