At the 2019 Unconvention, attendees were treated to a keynote presentation by Miki Agrawal, the serial entrepreneur behind industry-disrupting companies like Thinx and Tushy and author of the book Disrupt-Her: A Manifesto for the Modern Woman. In her speech, Miki talked about her experience disrupting established markets and launching products in previously taboo areas. While you might not be looking to start your own period-proof panties company or popularize bidet attachments in North America, Miki’s advice can be applied to any sector that is in need of a little disruption. In fact, we are already seeing disruption happen within the events industry – whether it’s Airbnb upending the traditional hotel model or Uber and Lyft being used as a primary form of attendee transportation at events.
Fearlessness is necessary if you want to disrupt things. And disruption is necessary if you want to survive in the long run. Over 88 per cent of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 no longer exist today. Why? Because they didn’t innovate over time. By adopting a fearless attitude, companies can explore new opportunities that will allow them to innovate and adapt over time.
You aren’t good at everything. No one is. So, instead of trying to do everything, recognize your weak spots and work with people who are complementary to you in terms of their strengths and temperament. That way, you can focus on what you do best.
Miki has set up each of her businesses as social enterprises that bake charitable giving, education and advocacy right into their core business model. Consumers increasingly expect companies to do more to give back and by integrating a social component into their operations, brands can develop stronger connections with their communities.
By combining education with entertainment, you can get your message out in a way that your audience will actually want to listen to. Miki is a big fan of edutainment and has made a point of injecting humour and wit into her print and video campaigns. Best of all, people are more likely to share content that they find entertaining, further helping you to spread your message.
To know whether an ad is appealing enough to run, Miki always asks herself: “Would I put this on my fridge?”. For her, ads should be so well-designed and artful that your audience will want to look at them again and again. Her ads for Thinx are great examples of this:
Imagine that you’re texting your friend. Use the same type of accessible, non-technical and easy-to-understand language that you would use with your friend with your audience. If consumers can’t understand what you’re saying or have to put in extra effort to parse your words, then you’ll have a tougher time engaging them.
In today’s digital world, so much of what we interact with is virtual or intangible. By creating real, tactile experiences for your audience, you can forge a connection stronger than anything that a print ad or social media post could. The same goes for media relations. When Thinx held a runway show at New York Fashion Week, Miki sent media invitations in the form of bricks that journalists had to break open in order to see the event information. By giving them such an out-of-the-ordinary experience, she was able to attract more press than she otherwise would have with a more conventional invite.