This is a guest post from Drew McLellan, CEO and Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Every once in awhile, someone comes along and instead of just adding to the existing industry or category, they literally change it.

keurigIn fact, they change the entire game. They re-invent the way we think. They create a want or need where we hadn’t even imagined one to be. They spark spin-off products and offerings — from their own company or others.

Let’s look at a of couple game changers and see what makes them so revolutionary.

Keurig’s Coffee Maker:

This amazing little device has completely shaken up the in home/office coffee making experience. Let’s look at the problems it solves:

  • I make a pot of coffee but have to keep reheating it throughout the day so I can have a hot cup when I want it.
  • I make a pot of coffee but almost always end of throwing away most of it.
  • I want to enjoy a variety of coffee flavors but I don’t want to buy a full bag or can of each flavor.
  • Sometimes I want hot tea or hot chocolate and can’t make either in my coffee maker.

Now, this little device has not only answered all of those concerns, but it’s also launched all kinds of new products (K-cups, display holders for the cups, a carrying case for traveling with your keurig coffee maker, water filters, etc.).

Apple’s iPad:

ipadLike about half a million other people, I spent a fair amount of time playing with my new iPad when I bought it. I’m not going to blather on about the coolness factor (although it is incredibly cool), so instead let’s look at how this product is changing our worlds.

The iPad is a computer, for all intents and purposes. And it’s changed the fundamentals of how we expect to interact with our future computers.

  • Kiss your mouse goodbye. We all want to be able to just intuitively touch our screen and move files, re-size photos, click on items, and scroll through multiple pages.
  • Want to see that PDF in landscape mode? Prefer to look at that photo vertically? Just grab your “computer” and turn it and watch what’s on your screen rotate to accommodate you.
  • Want all of your entertainment completely mobile, with high resolution, great sound, and full functionality? Now you can carry your movies, music, books, and games. With lightening fast speed and impressive graphic capabilities — you’re all set.

Companies like Netflix, Amazon, and many others have re-tooled their offerings for the iPad, just like they did for the iPod.

But what about us? Of course, this needs to loop back around to you and me. Our companies aren’t Apple. We probably don’t have a huge development team working in the lab.

So how can we be game changers?

If you look at the lists generated by the two game changers above, you’ll see some common themes.

  • Both identified “annoyances” that everyone else dismissed as being “just the way it is.”
  • Both looked at shifts in our daily life patterns and recognized a before non-existent opportunity.
  • Both took time to observe and hear “I wish I could…” wants and figured out how to make them so convenient that they quickly became needs.

What if you surveyed your best customers and asked these questions:

  • What are the three most annoying aspects of selling your house? (substitute your business appropriately)
  • Complete this sentence: When it comes to selling my house, I wish I could… (again, substitute accordingly)

While you’re waiting for their answers, ask yourself how your customers’ lives have changed in the past five years. What do they do differently? What don’t they do anymore? What are they doing now that they never used to do?

Take your thoughts and combine them with your survey results. I’m betting in the jumble of truths are some ideas worth pursuing. Ideas that could be your game changer!

About Drew McLellan

Wall Street Journal calls Drew McLellan’s blog, DrewsMarketingMinute.com, "one of the ten blogs every entrepreneur should read." His passion is helping clients discover their story so they can create authentic love affairs with their customers. He's also an author, national speaker, and has owned his own marketing agency in the Midwest since 1995.

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