Mom Always Told Us to Share

Disruptive innovation is the impetus behind most technological luxuries that we enjoy each day. We have cars, smartphones and Netflix all thanks to our collective desires to assess our daily objectives and decide there is a way to accomplish them better and faster. That could be said for nearly every innovation out there, but disruptive innovations are those that create a concept that completely changes how we interact with the world and each other. Sure, selfie sticks may help to prevent some tourists from falling off buildings, but it’s nothing like being able to hop into a car instead of on a horse.

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Are we doing this right?

When first thinking about this topic, services like Uber and Lyft came to mind. They’ve completely changed how we approach getting from point A to point B and are rapidly expanding to new cities. But looking at them closer shows that their actual service is merely a taxi alternative. Taxi’s still exist, and Uber provides the same experience with some innovative logistics.

However, how Uber and Lyft function is something more worthy of consideration. These companies are pooling resources from the community which leads to an environment where both the provider and user receive a shared value from the transaction. And this underlying theory is popping up in many industries beyond transportation, leading to the increasing influential “sharing economy.”

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On top of these, there are retailers like eBay and Etsy, pet care providers like Rover, crowdsourcers like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, and other locally focused services. This emerging “sharing economy” is potentially a disruptive innovation as people choose more and more to interact directly with providers rather than larger companies. It’s funny, actually. As we keep our faces glued to the screens in our hands, we’re opting to interact with each other–perhaps even more so than before–just by a different medium.

That said, a single company isn’t solely capable of disruptive innovation. Sure, one may stand out as the figurehead, whether it be as an idea’s originator or a derivative that improved upon it, but public demand and, often, cross-industry appeal and/or value, adds to increased providers and ultimately, a disruptive innovation.

As the sharing economy’s value increases, marketers will need to work to promote both the brand and the idea behind it. The shared value each party receives from the service is the common thread across industries, and marketing to this experience will be an effective method moving further. Plenty of commentary exists about how we’re all interacting with our screens more than other people, but capitalizing on the fact that we all may, in fact, be interacting more with each other, can raise brand awareness and promote positive effects from using the service.

The other thing to consider is that marketing itself will continue to gain popularity in the sharing economy. Sites like crowdSPRING already offer professional services,

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My company’s logo is a crowdSPRING project result.

and I suspect more will pop up as independent providers seek ways to distinguish themselves from each other and increase their visibility. As the sharing economy grows, more and more people will become providers and they will need to be attractive to users to stand out in a growing pool.

Looking forward, marketing has the opportunity to create some pretty exciting content that will evolve as the sharing economy and its place within its industries develops. While marketing has traditionally been used to promote value, moving forward, it may also have to provide value itself.

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