Building a Business Case for Disruption

Steven Kenwright and Carrie Rose, Rise at Seven
How do you get businesses to take the risks they need to, to really disrupt the market? Carrie and Stephen explain.

Key takeaways on building a business case for disruption

In this session with Carrie Rose and Stephen Kenwright from Rise at Seven, we heard how they approach creating ideas and campaigns that disrupt companies big, small, traditional, in highly competitive spaces and more. Here’s the key takeaways:

  • It doesn’t matter which brand ambassadors you choose. It’s which brand ambassadors choose you.
  • Advertising is totally democratic now – Anyone can do advertising on your company/brand.
  • A brand brings context to the cultural conversation, so that the moment becomes sharable.
  • Simplicity can amplify a campaign both in terms of reach and emotional impact.
  • Why aren’t people doing disruptive things? Bureaucracy exists to protect the business. You need top people to buy into your idea/s.
    • They want speed, profit, and risk mitigation.

What do we mean by ‘disruptive’ in marketing?

The crux of the conversation focused on ideas that sit outside of the accepted norm. Disruptive does not mean ‘borderline offensive’, ‘zaney’ or being there to shock. Disruptive in this context means ideas that sit just beyond a normal comfort level, or require an application of lateral thinking to bring to life.

Why disruptive ideas? It’s important to build Share of Mind!

Share of Mind refers to the concept of being the first brand that comes to mind when a customer has a particular problem. Stephen proposed there were three main components of making this happen.

  • Awareness – People becoming aware of you in the first instance.
  • Salience – The degree to which your brand is thought of or noticed.
  • Fame – Going beyond salience, fame points to a theory Mark Ritson speaks of often: the fact that ‘big brands win’. Stephen pointed out this operates on three levels:
    • Influence – Being able to infliuence conversations within the market
    • Advocacy – How likely people are to speak about your product
    • 4x efficiency of marketing budget

All of this matters because in creating ‘disruptive’ ideas, we’re looking to build share of mind at the point of purchase.

How do you sell your disruptive ideas to a board?

How do you convince a board to buy into your ideas? First of all, you need to appreciate their context. The things they are bothered (generally speaking) are:

  • Speed – how quickly can it be done?
  • Profit – How much money can this make?
  • Risk mitigation – Are we going to be damaging our brand by pursuing this action?

The last of these is the hardest one to come by when speaking about ideas that disrupt. Which is why Stephen and Carrie recommend looking at the Straight Line System for Sales by Jordan Belfort. 

The Straight Line System for Sales

The Straight Line System for Sales proposes that a sale starts with an introduction, and ends with a sale.

Straight line system for sales

But, along the route from one point to the other there will be objections. So, Stephen and Carrie recommended the following to do in advance of bringing your idea to the client.

  • Brainstorm objections before your pitch – if you know they are going to ask ‘is this risky’ or ‘what justifies the cost?’ then you can come up for an answer beforehand.
  • Find your emotional buyer – The person who feels the pain when this campaign doesn’t happen – speak to these people, as they are the ones who will help you push your idea through.

How about the ‘crazy’ ideas, what do you do with those? Anchor high!

But what if an idea is considered too ‘out there’, ‘too disruptive?’. Come in with three ideas to the pitch:

  • The wildest idea you can think of
  • The campaign you want to do
  • A boring campaign that won’t change anything

Chances are folks will go for the middle one because that will now be seen as the ‘not too safe’ and ‘not too out there’ option.

Stop trying to be the hero – pitch with confidence

  • You’ll most likely get the authority to buy into your vision by recommending the idea, as opposed to simply… asking, suggesting, or proposing ideas to them.


Q and A on building a business case for disruption

Q: How do you pitch your ideas to brands that are more risk-averse?

A: Ask them how much risk is tolerable. It’s not a binary where they’re either open to risk or not. The most risk-averse businesses, particularly financial services and legal, literally have documents that detail how much risk they’re willing to take. Maybe they’ll show it to you. Maybe they won’t. But it doesn’t hurt to ask them how much risk feels comfortable. It’s helpful to ask them to rate the level of risk on a scale of 1 to 10§.

Q: When you go in for your initial pitch, do you preemptively address risk points that you predict will come up, or do you keep the answers in your back pocket in case those objections come up?

A: We usually talk about risk or what people are comfortable with, but we usually talk about those things before the pitch.