Michael Martin – From a Marketing Strategy to a Global Movement
Michael Martin, General Manager of the Five Fingered shoes (you know, the “toe shoes”), shared his journey building a product that was doomed to fail according to virtually every conceivable measure of potential future success.
The company’s big break was actually deep in it’s history, when it sold the first rubber soled shoe, going on to supply the US military with all of its footwear. They had proven they could innovate once, why not again? As anyone in a large successful company can attest, it is a lot harder to innovate in a proven, successful market than it is at the start of a company when you have nothing to lose.
As if putting Mauro’s theory into practice, they relied heavily on their loyal customers to advertise their product for them. They have a website where their customers have made three minute videos about what Five Fingers means to them. Suddenly, this confusing, unwanted product has evolved into the 2010 “Item of the Year” in the Plus awards for design excellence. All of this is possible because they had the courage to stand by their idea, because of their experience with a young, unproven product. The courage to accept early failure as part of the road to future success is instrumental to building a culture of innovation.