Age of Disruption Handstand

Small business has a big advantage in the age of disruption

Industry NewsCategory
4 min read
Stacey DePolo

Ever feel frustrated by a bad experience with a big company? Anyone who has cable or flies on commercial airlines can probably relate. Did you know that you could turn that frustration into a business? And there’s never been a better time for entrepreneurship than now — the age of disruption.

That's one way that your small business has an unprecedented advantage over large established brands.

Branding expert Jeff Rosenblum claims trillions of dollars are at stake. His best-selling book, Friction, details why the current era of transparency requires new strategies. Rather than clever new messaging or technologies to reach customers, a fundamental change is needed.

Small businesses are disrupting nearly every industry by applying this insight to the friction and frustrations of everyday life. This is the age of disruption.

Shaking it up in the age of disruption

I caught up with Jeff after his keynote at the social media conference in Atlanta called the Social Shake Up. His session was a conference favorite.

Jeff’s system for embracing transparency, engaging audiences, and creating evangelists works just as well for the online business his 9-year-old son is starting, Buy Books By Kids, as it does for large established brands.

Turning conflict into conversations

Businesses of every size can benefit from learning how to “turn conflict into conversations.” If you run a small business, you have the advantage of being more nimble than large corporations. From taking a stand on political issues to supercharging social media buzz through customer experiences, Jeff shared stories about how friction can be your friend.

We talked about how GoDaddy was once a small business that eliminated the friction of the high cost of domain registration. By making it affordable for anyone to get their business online, we challenged a company that previously had a monopoly. The rest, as they say, is history.

The secret to success in the age of disruption

Jeff shares the secret to success for every business, no matter how small: powerful content that sits at the top of the sales funnel, driven by what you stand for. It's much easier to take the risks necessary to become a passion brand when you are small.

You are closer to the friction.

Often people start a business to solve a problem that has significant friction.

Despite the fact that Jeff's agency, Questus, is in the business of creating ads, he's not a fan of advertising. “You can buy ads or build brand evangelists,” he says. Small businesses that create immersive content and experiences empower what he calls digitally-enabled brand evangelists. This video contains an example:

Brands that merit evangelists

Two brands that I evangelize in this age of disruption are small businesses from my hometown of San Francisco. Both crowdfunded clothing company Betabrand and churned-to-order ice cream experience company Smitten Ice Cream have done an excellent job of creating the types of experience Jeff describes. They haven't paid me a dime to talk about them. But I can't stop telling their stories and bringing them new customers.

Smitten Ice Cream turns getting ice cream into an experience that I dare you to resist posting to social media.

Betabrand clothes make everyone who wears them want to brag because they give people freedom, not just fashion.

In that case, BEHOLD! Straight from a work conference in Ruidoso, NM: a strategy session held entirely crosslegged in my Betabrand work pants. You guys rock — we ❤️ you in NM!

— Erin Presson Ladd (@WordNerdErin) May 12, 2018

Betabrand removes friction by letting anyone propose and promote a unique clothing design. Social sharing is built into the concept of the brand as the folks who propose designs socialize them to build support.

Create experiences that inspire your customers to share and reduce friction by making it easy to find and share content on your site or in your store. Watch your business grow and thrive as evangelists like me spread the word.