I had the wonderful opportunity to spend last week in Verona, N.Y., at the NY Tech Summit—a two-day business-to-business exhibition and educational technology conference hosted by CXtec and Teracai. In addition to great networking events, top-notch exhibits by companies like Dell, Plantronics and Schneider Electric, and bleeding-edge classroom sessions, there was also a riveting keynote presentation by Travelocity Founder Terry Jones.
As the Founder of Travelocity and Founding Chairman of Kayak.com, Terry knows a thing or two about innovation. That’s because Terry has a wealth of experience to pull from—from his time at American Airlines as a Director of Product Development to his 24 years at Sabre heading up the computer services, applications and product development sections to leading Travelocity since its inception in May of 2012.
“I want to talk to you about turning innovation on—turning it on in your culture, in your team and in your entire organization,” Terry began. “You might be saying why? Why is innovation so important? Well, it’s important because the pace of change isn’t going to slack. It’s about changing upstream and downstream from your business.”
There were so many wonderful sound bites from Terry. Some of my favorites are listed below:
- “Consumers are armed and dangerous,” he cautioned. Today, the big change that is taking place is consumer empowerment. Consumers have more tools at their disposal and are forever changing the way they are discovering products.
- As customers get smarter, they get harder to catch so “we need a better mouse trap.” Innovation is the key to keeping up with this changing world.
- The problem with innovation is that most companies are afraid of accepting it; they are afraid of failure.
- In the business world, don’t say, “We’ve always done it that way.” When you say those words your employees hear “sit, stay, heal” as opposed to “think, innovate, be yourself.”
- Hiring is like putting together an orchestra. You want to find a jazz band—a group who can make great music together.
You might be asking yourself, ‘How does this apply to marketing?’ And my answer is… how does it not? Terry’s tidbits of advice are exactly the sentiments you need to bring into your corporate culture as content marketing is one of the more innovative marketing strategies we have seen in the last few years.
Content marketing most certainly represents the new-age landscape of marketing—characterized by avant-garde techniques such as podcasts and webinars to social media and evocative blog posts. So are you going to be that business that Terry condemns for squashing innovation? Or are you going to embrace this new era of marketing and sharpen the pencil to figure out how to bring the strategy into your business plan?
One of Terry’s most shining examples of the importance of innovation came in the form of an anecdote. He explained that during his career he lost a million dollars for a company building a CD-ROM-based travel product. But instead of getting fired, Terry’s boss quietly asked, “So Terry… what did you learn?”
“Word spread like wildfire as people exclaimed, ‘Wow Terry didn’t get fired!,’ and it really changed the culture,” Terry explained at the summit. “Everyone understood that we would try and fail and it was OK.”
“In real innovation being comfortable isn’t good; you have to be a little uncomfortable,” he added.
And we at Content Boost could not have said it better ourselves. Any new venture can be uncomfortable or unsettling—and that’s because you don’t know what to expect. But not diving into the innovation pool is more catastrophic than diving in and drowning (because at least then you can learn from your mistakes and change course next time).
So the next time someone on your marketing team or your boss asks you your thoughts on dabbling in the content marketing pool. Just remember this awesome sound bite from Terry: “Change is inevitable but growth is optional; it’s really up to you.”