For more than three decades, hockey goalies didn’t wear masks because they weren’t considered tough enough if they did. You have to wonder, what were they thinking?

Let me add a few more perplexing questions to the mix: Why do the Japanese dominate the watch market and not the Swiss? Why did it take so long to add wheels to luggage? And what does all this have to do with flooring?

The answers can dramatically affect your business. Because in every case, a new technology or a breakthrough came along that suddenly made what was once considered impractical, practical.

It’s really true: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Sometimes we’re slow to adapt but, when we do, watch out—everything changes, including your marketing.

It took 32 years of broken noses, teeth and jaws before the first goalie wore a mask full-time. The first one was worn in 1927, but it wasn’t until 1959 when a goalie wore a mask in every game. And that was only because he got hit in the face and had to receive stitches during the game and refused to come back on the ice until his coach allowed him to wear a mask. Until then, goalies who wore masks weren’t considered tough enough.

Swiss watchmakers are well known for creating and designing masterful mechanical watches. But they wanted nothing to do with electronic watches using quartz technology. That allowed Japanese companies, like Seiko, to dominate the watch market. The Swiss lost the majority of the market.

This is my favorite: We were able to put a man on the moon in 1969, but it wasn’t until years later that we figured out how to put wheels on luggage.


Taking it Further

The point is, whatever the industry, wherever you look, things have been done the same way for years. Then, suddenly a trigger occurs: A new technology, a new concept, a new idea.

What does all this mean to you and your company? There’s something happening right now in the flooring industry that could change your business. You can take advantage of the dramatic opportunities—or you can choose to ignore it.

From style to texture, fabrication to install, “green” is popular in the flooring industry. And while the colors, sizes or textures may change, the overall focus on being eco-friendly is not a passing trend. Going green is a lifestyle with specific financial and aesthetic considerations. But what does it mean for your company, particularly when it comes to marketing?

On a flight to Israel once, I was amazed looking out the window and seeing miles and miles of dirt and rock and then, seemingly out of nowhere, lush, green expanses of grass and crops—all made possible by drip technology and desalination plants. Water is not taken lightly there, where it’s frequently hot and there is a lot of barren area.

To help conserve its scarce water supply, many toilets in Israel—and other parts of the world—use the one-flush, two-flush system. Do you know what this is? It’s a toilet with two size flushes, based on the body’s output. Because water is so scarce in many areas, the toilet’s flush system serves as a water-saving device that reduces consumption by up to 67% in most homes.

What does all this mean to you? As we are in the final quarter of 2014 and are preparing a marketing plan for the next year, you have to gauge your customers—and potential customers—to determine what your business needs to do. At the end of the day, as the flooring industry changes and products shift, you need to know yourself, your company and your brand.

Make the right decision around who you are—not just because you want to jump on the bandwagon. Not every marketing idea is a good one. QR codes and micro-blogging are still being used, but they haven’t had the consumer success that was expected—at least in the U.S.

So take a minute and do a “mental inventory.” Here are several steps to consider as you walk through the three phases of the marketing plan: Market, Message and Medium:

The Market. All marketing efforts begin with the “who.” Know your customers, and build your actions around their needs. Does your market care about being eco-friendly? If so, is it a little? A lot?

Are you trying to upsell to your past and current clients or to bring in new customers? Staying practical, what more should you be doing? What green products could you carry and what green services could you offer? What else is out there, and what is the price difference between “standard” and “green”?

The Message. Be strategic and creative. You know the target—now you can market effectively. But it’s not about you; it’s about them. Let prospects know how you can help them be greener in their lives and/or businesses.

Determine where you really are green. Is it in your own business practices—such as energy efficiency and store lighting? Or do you offer eco-friendly products? Or both? This information should then get incorporated into your marketing and selling messages.

A word of warning: Be careful what you say, because overstating what you’re doing can come back to haunt you. In particular, “greenwashing” — where you tout a few irrelevant, trivial points to pretend you’re green when it’s really a smokescreen—is dishonest and creates distrust. And that’s always a poor business decision.

The Medium. Once you know whom you are targeting and what you want to say, then determine the appropriate avenues.

Should you text message your potential customers with a big announcement? Perhaps ads in a local paper will do. What about direct mail? This is an entire topic we will explore in a future article.

Good luck as you head down the green path to great marketing and greater revenues.


Jon Goldman is the CEO of the business strategy firm Brand Launcher ( He is the author of two works on business and marketing topics, including one that has been translated into Japanese. Get a free copy of his latest e-book, “Vendor-to-Expert,” at To contact him, call (410) 235-7070 or