What if every marketing program was guaranteed to succeed?  And what if success was measured not in the number of Facebook ‘Likes’ or ‘Re-tweets,’ but how well a marketer delivered on what I call ‘Curious Disbelief?’

Let’s start with a definition. Curious Disbelief is simply getting consumers to:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Care
  3. Act

I’ll take each individually.

Three Questions to ask yourself:

1. How do you Get Consumers to Pay Attention?

We’re more and more connected across multichannel platforms and through mobile devices. Everything is faster and this shift is reshaping marketing communications.  A few examples:


  • Amazon Price Check  is changing how consumers shop & interact with retailers, providing both information & shifting the balance of control.
  • Television is seeing a radical shift.  From live viewer experiences like MTV ‘s second screen experiences’ that connect live TV through mobile devices to how Twitter has impacted what isnow called ‘appointment TV.’

This multichannel convergence forces us as marketers to change our perspective … think, plan, organize and communicate as your customers think.

2. How Do You Get Consumers to Care?

You need a great product or story.

Sounds simple, but when you look at recent retail failures of Borders and Circuit City, or challenges that companies like Groupon and Yahoo! face, it’s easier said than done.

A few best-in-class examples:

  • Trader Joes – Those that love Trader Joes REALLY love Trader Joes; it borders on evangelical. The retailer has perfected a quirky, well-priced product assortment that makes every shopping trip an adventure.
  • lululemon – Building community of passionate women around Yoga, lifestyle and pants that ‘make your butt look amazing,”  lululemon underscores its culture with great product and design.
  • Square – Square has turned every iPhone into a connected payment device. It is simple, seamless and has transformed and empowered small business.

Each of these examples prioritizes the consumer experience and delivers with flawless execution.

3. How Do You Get Consumers to Act?

Establish a highly personal connection & cut through the clutter.

I’ll take you back to my days leading brand marketing for Kmart, where our challenge was to cut through the industry clutter and build consideration.

Kmart surprisingly had a great story to tell with improved product quality and design . . . and a staff of talented in-house designers.

So instead of running a thirty second ad or spending money on billboards, we hired a team of Sundance-winning documentary film makers to tell our story.  This was Kmart’s opportunity to differentiate –150 videos and 4MM+ views later, along with solid industry praise, we were able to foster a personal connection with customers and differentiate from the ‘sameness’ within big box retail.

Here are three takeaways to ‘Build Curious Disbelief’:

  1. Be Shockingly Different:  Lets take Lada Gaga as an example, love her or hate her, Gaga is different, an open book.  And with Kmart Design all content was unscripted, exposing our flaws that also led to an honesty that resonated with consumers.
  2. Poke the Box: The title of Seth Godin’s recent book about ‘initiative’ & ‘making a difference” is also what makes Trader Joes & Gaga so special. Both Trader Joes and Gaga don’t follow trends; they lead and have the guts to fail.
  3. Make them Uncomfortable: This especially goes for selling an idea internally, don’t ask permission – with Kmart Design I filmed the pilot episodes & tested with consumers, making it impossible for senior executives to say ‘no.”  With Lady Gaga, her actions make many uncomfortable, but there’s no doubting the impact.

Thus, whether you’re a legacy brand fighting for survival like Kmart or a start-up in an emerging space like edo or mega-superstar, Lady Gaga … the idea of ‘Building Curious Disbelief’ transcends.

Jeff Fagel, Former VP Marketing

Jeff Fagel was formerly edo Vice President, Marketing and Brand Development.

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