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GE drives marketing disruption

News, 07 June 2016

NEW ORLEANS: General Electric, the industrial conglomerate, is leveraging an in-house "disruption team" to ensure it remains at the cutting edge when it comes to identifying new marketing opportunities.

Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Officer at GE – which makes big-ticket products including jet engines, locomotives and wind turbines – discussed this subject at the 2016 Collision Conference in New Orleans.

More specifically, she reported that a dedicated "disruption team" is one way that the 124-year-old organisation keeps up to speed with the latest marketing opportunities.

"I carved out a few people and their job is very purposeful. And it's fun: Their job is to deliberately look around corners," said Boff. (For more, including further tips for marketers, read Warc's exclusive report: How GE uses narrative resources to build B2B fire.)

"We like to think of ourselves as a brand in motion, as a brand that doesn't stay still. And, as a result, we're constantly thinking about, 'What's that next platform?', 'What's a way for us to channel what is at the heart of GE?' and to show it in our marketing, in our brand."

This emphasis on marketing innovation thus reflects GE's broader corporate focus on creating pioneering products and services at the intersection of the digital and physical worlds.

For its marketers, that means "inculcating innovation, inculcating disruption, and saying, 'Okay, if we're not thinking about what's around the corner, it's going to pass us by.' And that feels like a lost opportunity."

Another benefit of being a first-mover is that it enables GE to try out emerging communications platforms at a comparatively modest level of expenditure. "The cost of trying out these new platforms is pretty low," said Boff.

Thanks to such payoffs, Boff suggested that the "disruption team" has been a source of "competitive advantage" for General Electric – not least because it is comprised of digital natives who are natural early adopters of new tools.

"A lot of the team just lives their life out loud on these platforms ... And it's an innate curiosity on the team [that] matches the curiosity of the company," she told the Collision attendees.

Data sourced from Warc