In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Steve Miller. Meetings & Conventions Magazine calls Steve Miller the Idea Man for his unconventional, edgy, no-spin approach to marketing and branding. He is the author of the Amazon #1 bestseller, “UNCOPYABLE: How to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition.” Steve’s speaking and consulting clients have ranged from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 corporations, including Proctor & Gamble, Greystar Real Estate, Caterpillar, Boeing Airplane, Starbucks, Philips Electronics, and the prestigious TED Conference. We’re talking about his latest book — Stealing Genuis: The Seven Levels of Adaptive Innovation.
Improvement is not innovation and innovation is essential if your aim is to survive in today’s business environment. Fixating your mind on improvement in today’s world is a dangerous path—one that ultimately leads to commoditization and irrelevance. In this episode, I talk with author, Steve Miller, about innovating in today’s business world by creating powerful, uncopyable experiences for your target customer.
Questions I ask Steve Miller:
- [2:34] What does ‘Stealing Genuis’ mean?
- [6:29] What is adaptive innovation?
- [9:39] How do you advise people?
- [14:43] What are some of the ways to know if something innovative is going to be a big risk and not turn off customers?
- [16:23] Do you have a couple of examples of companies that you think are just routinely good at innovation?
- [19:06] Where can more people find out about you and your work?
More About Steve Miller:
- Get a copy of his book — Stealing Genuis: The Seven Levels of Adaptive Innovation
Learn More About The Certification Intensive Training:
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(00:47): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Steve Miller, meetings and conventions, magazines, calls him the idea man for his unconventional, edgy, no spin approach to marketing and branding. He’s the author of the Amazon number one best seller, copyable, how to Create an Unfair Advantage Over Your Competition. He speaks in, uh, his speaking and consulting clients have ranged from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 corporations, including Proctor and Gamble, Graystar Real Estate, caterpillar, Boeing Airplanes, Starbucks, Phillips Electronics, and the prestigious TED Conference. Today we’re gonna talk about his latest book, stealing Genius, the Seven Levels of Adaptive Innovation. So John,
Steve Miller (01:35): Thank, thank you for, uh, that when having me on to talk about this. This is great. I, you know, I mean, I think I’m pretty sure no, this is how authors work, right? But my book went to number one, which was for a brief period of time,
John Jantsch (02:05): Well, that is good to know. And then listeners won’t, won’t know this, but this is our second attempt at this interview take, because we had a take technology glitch, take two. And so Steve was kind, kind enough to come back. There’s I, and, and I, you know, if you were to listen to the other recording, just know that it would not be the exact same thing. I, I suspect, because I never know what questions I’m gonna ask. And I know Steve has actually thank you.
Steve Miller (02:27): No idea what he, Steve has no idea.
John Jantsch (02:32): So, so I, I do wanna start by unpacking the, just the ti the words or the, that you use in the title. So, in two cases, the first one, stealing Genius, maybe give us a definition of of that
Steve Miller (02:43): Going well, this, to try to unwrap it as quickly as possible. That the genesis of this is that too often businesses doesn’t matter what size business, you could be a, a single person entrepreneur, you know, or, you know, a Fortune 500 company. Too often they get fall into the trap of paying too much attention to the competition, too much attention to the world within their world, okay? And as, as such, you see an awful lot of, dare I say, incestuous behavior among companies. You know, if they copy each other, they might try to improve upon somebody else’s idea, but they kind, that’s kind of how they come up with their future plans for, oh, we’re just, we’re gonna get better than the competition. We’re gonna get better than the competition. Well, many years ago, my father, Ralph Miller and his cohort in crime, bill Lear of Learjet, they got together and came up with this concept that they, they d deemed the eight track tape player.
(03:52): Okay? So, yes, my dad was part of that world
(04:42): So, right. So my dad and Bill Lear, knowing they had to build a quality product in Japan, they brought him in to be part of the team. So, and then my dad, who, no, this, I don’t want to get into a discussion with my dad, but he decides that the way to spend quality time with his young teenage son is to drag me along and fly me to go to hang with these guys, right? Oh, that was a blast. And, but one of the things I remember was that Deming was very, this guy was really a pound the table kind of a guy, right? When he got really, and, and the thing that he got really big about was benchmarking. Okay? Cuz that’s essentially what we’re talking about when we say that. That we as companies tend to look at our competition. We tend to look within our world.
(05:39): We are benchmarking is what we’re doing. Okay? Now, D Deming called that intrinsic benchmarking where you were benchmarking in your industry, but he maintained that in order to think creatively that was a mistake. You were not gonna come up with new ideas by just studying the competition, you were gonna come up with new ideas by going outside your world, outside of your natural, uh, environment, and go study aliens. And he called it extrinsic benchmarking. And I called a, call it Stealing Genius. So, so that’s where, that’s the genesis of where it all came from. It all started hell of a long time ago.
John Jantsch (06:27):
Steve Miller (06:49): And so starting the term with adaptive, so adaptive innovation is really a, it’s, it’s really the how to do it of stealing genius is that you go out and, you know, like you say, I talk about seven different levels of of, of be benchmarking, study them. And you look for mm-hmm.
(07:39): So it has to be an innovative idea that you can adapt back into your industry. So, so to just say, you know, as just a simple example, like if you are in the high tech industry right now, then I would be telling you go out and study the food industry, go out and study, you know, read their industry goes detail, go out and study, you know, some aian high tech is using it, right? So these restaurants, you know, and ask yourself, is there something out there that we can steal and bring back to high tech? And nobody’s un copyable, nobody in high tech is approaching anything like that right now. And if you do it right, you can actually create a situation that, you know, from my previous book is, is hard to copy.
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(09:15): Visit DTM world slash workshop. That’s DTM world slash workshop. So, so one of the things that I think is probably difficult, I don’t think anybody listening so far is like, oh, that’s a dumb idea. That, that, I mean, I think everybody pretty much agrees with Yeah, that’s, we’ve all seen that in our lives maybe or in some business innovation where everybody was like, that’s brilliant, but they really just brought it from somebody else who was doing it. So how do you advise people? I, I mean, I’m sure the fir question a lot of people ask is, well, where do I look
Steve Miller (09:52): Well, you know, and with the level, the seven levels, you know, I try to take it from like, the easiest way to start, you know, do I want to innovate? And up to the most complicated? And the easiest way to start is first of all is ask yourself just a question. Like, like, okay, what do I want to, what I’ll, I’ll use an example of, uh, of, uh, let you know a trade shows for example, you know, one of the, one of the biggest issues with trade shows that, that the, the producers of trade shows, you know, they have to go out and they’re finding exhibitors who are spending a lot of money to come in and buy these booth piles. Well, one of the biggest challenges for the produce bill these booths and, and spend that money, and then they have to attract people to come, to walk up and down the producers, is they want those people to walk every single aisle, right?
(10:40): Because they want them to get in to go buy all those people who are spending money. So if you ask the question, how do we get people to walk the aisles, right? Well, that’s, so let’s say that’s the project. Let’s, that’s the question. So you ask, now the question you ask yourself is, okay, who to that is not in the trade show world is really good at forcing people walk. And, and the number one example, the biggest example of all are supermarkets. Okay? It’s the food industry. But supermarkets are brilliant. They are genius at forcing you to travel as many aisles as possible before they will let you out.
(11:50): So, so they’re gonna make you go as far away as possible, possible, and they’re, you know, up and down aisles or around the corner or some different stuff like that. So that is, and trade shows by default, historically, have always put the milk in the front of the front of the hall. When you go into a big trade show, for the most part, the biggest exhibitors, the ones who are the destination ex, they’re like anchor stores at a mall. Okay? They are making, they let you walk in and boom, you walk right in. Well, smart trade shows that, and I’ve consulted for a number of really big, you know, the top put the milk in the back of the hall, top shows in, in, in the country. You know, you finally get them to understand, no, you, you, they’re the milk, all right? They’re still gonna get every single person
John Jantsch (12:59): Yeah. So I think that the key to that as I’m listening to you, is it’s not just a matter of going out and saying, oh, that’s different. We could do that. It’s really, I think first you have to look inward, you know, what is our industry doing? What does everybody do? What does common practice? And really start then saying, how can we, you know, Zig, let’s go look for a zig. That would make
Steve Miller (13:21): Sense. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve all heard, and I use the term map, the experience, I mean, you know, the customer journey, I mean, everything like that, you know, the, those of us that are consult, you know, we have these conversations with our clients and we talk about all these things. And then what I do is as we map the experience of the customer and go through all the touch points that they might have, then what I do is I, I one by one, we go through the touch points. So we say, okay, is this something that we can change, you know, or do we have to just keep doing it the same way everybody else is doing it right now, if it’s, you know, let’s ask ourselves that question, you know, how do we make somebody travel? You know, and that might be the big question, but you do it with every, you know, every opportunity that you have, you look for a way to ask the question, is this something that we can do differently?
(14:10): You know, now? But even when you say, well, you know, you know, we, we could go look at companies and oh, look what they’re doing. Well, that’s actually one of the levels, okay? But mm-hmm
John Jantsch (14:36): My work. So one of the things that I, I see a lot of pushback from companies why they don’t innovate is because it’s like, will it work? Nobody else in our industry is doing it. You know, it’s almost like a fear
Steve Miller (15:00): Well, I think the first thing to ask yourself is do people buy from you because you’re similar to the competition,
John Jantsch (15:09): And yeah, and jump, jump in, push back more. I would guess a lot of people would say, well, not necessarily because of that, but they have a certain expectation, you know, of how they’re gonna be treated, say,
Steve Miller (15:22): In the industry life. But if their expectation for you is the same as for everybody else, you know, then, then we run into the problem. And you and I both know where this ends up, this ends up with, you know, first of all, everybody’s product is quality. Everybody has high quality products today. Everybody says they have the best customer service on the planet. Everybody says that. Okay? Right? And if everybody has the best product, and you know, and essentially in most industries they’re, it’s, they’re commoditizing Now, you know, that’s the way technology is working. And the second thing is, if everybody says they have the best customer service, well the customer, no, you know, the customer never buys similarity. The customer always finds a difference. And if they can’t find it between the product or the service, it comes down to price. And I, I am, I’m saying to people, if you wanna compete on price, then I’m not your consultant.
John Jantsch (16:20): Yeah. Well, there’ll always be somebody willing to go out of business faster.
Steve Miller (16:23): That’s right. Chase that to the bottom. That’s exactly right.
John Jantsch (16:28): Do you have a couple examples of companies that you think are just routinely
Steve Miller (16:32): Good? Oh, well, you know, but the, and of course, yes, they, they’re, they’re the obvious answers, right? You know, the Disney’s you know, the, you know, the apples and, and groups like that. I mean, I love to look at companies that are not huge, that are doing things that are just wicked, you know, wicked different. I have a client who, they build those, you know what, like if you go into a auto body shop or something, or a car auto shop and the technicians, the, the who are, and these guys are really good at what they do, okay? And they own all of their own tools and they have those tools in a really nice toolbox. And it’s usually like this huge toolbox standing up really tall, and it’s red, it’s red, red. That’s exactly right. Yeah. And, and one of my clients who is one of the suppliers to that, they, you know, he wanted to, you know, we were fighting over like, okay, how do we separate, how do we separate, you know, and you know, you try to get him to, oh, you can change color, but really what we’re looking at is we’re looking at what can we offer people that nobody else is gonna offer?
(17:43): And, you know, and he said, you know, they’re all expensive, you know, at that level they’re very expensive. So how do you prove value to a customer? Because I always say where value is clear, the decision is easy. And so he came up with this concept of, of not just a lifetime guarantee, but he came up with a, with a concept of a 55 year guarantee. And what he did with that was by, by taking a specific number like that, instead of saying Lifetime, cuz lifetime is kind of one of those things. People banter, you know, bandy about, you know, all, all over the place. He said for, he says, if you call me within 55 years, I will give you a brand new, you know, you know, case or I’ll give you your money back. Okay? And then, and, but then he, you know, in the guarantee he also says, but my kid is take, okay, we both know I’m not gonna be alive in 55 years.
(18:37): Right? He’s actually taking a long, taking over the business. And so my kid will be, you know, taking care of the, so, so what he’s doing is he’s just essentially, you know, a lifetime guarantee and now spun it into language that people will remember. And that’s what we’re, that’s what we gotta be cognizant of, is that people do business, you know, with people they like, they know, they trust and they remember, okay. And that’s the thing that is just for him, you know, it has separated from the crowd and man, and you know, and he is killing
John Jantsch (19:11): It. So Steve, tell me, tell people where they can find out more about, obviously the book A Stealing Genius or Uneven,
Steve Miller (19:18): Well, you know, you can find out about him, ’em on Amazon
John Jantsch (19:20): Or find out more about your work.
Steve Miller (19:21): You can absolutely do that. Yeah. Yeah. But here’s what, here’s what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna, I’m gonna give a gift to everybody because I love giving out books. And so what I’m gonna suggest is go to the website, be copyable.com No, I’m sorry, whoops, back up. I started to say Wrong, no, stealing genius.com/duct tape. Okay? And if you go to that site, now, here’s what you do. You go buy Stealing Genius on Amazon, I don’t care if put your feet by the Kindle, it doesn’t bother me, right? And then you go to that webpage and it asks you for your email address, and you email address and, and then I will follow up with you and I will say, okay, now send me your mailing address. I will send you a free paperback copy of my book Copyable as my gift to you. And yes, I will even sign it because John, you and I both know how much more valuable that makes that book, right?
John Jantsch (20:25): Absolutely raise raises the price of my books, uh, by 50 cents on eBay when people are selling
Steve Miller (20:31): It, at least, yes, but don’t, is it because personalization at least actually drops the value of the book, so
John Jantsch (20:37): That’s right. That’s right. No, no longer available. Well, Steve, thanks again for, uh, taking the time to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and hopefully we will run into you again soon when Hope so. Can’t wait to see your next book either. Thanks, thanks Steve. Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co. I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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