Eight decades after its introduction, the last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line on July 10th.  The innovations that extended the Beetle’s life are the source for these Lessons Found.

Total sales of the VW Beetle topped 23 million cars, making it the world’s fourth most popular car model.  This success is based on a history of innovations well beyond model updates.  For example, the Beetle’s  “Think Small” advertising campaign was so innovative that Ad Age ranked it the best of the 20th century. Launched in 1959 and highlighting what some viewed as weaknesses, “Think Small” propelled Beetle’s annual sales to double in just seven years to over one million cars.

Innovations included VW’s extension of the Beetle’s market.  After a dramatic drop in sales, VW ended US sales of the Beetle in 1979.  However, VW spurred sales south of the border during the 1980s and 1990s when, by leveraging local production and creative marketing, Beetle achieved the aura of being Mexico’s national car.

Within VW Beetle’s story are two Lessons Found on innovative marketing.  The first lesson is increasing sales through expansion into new markets.  Small businesses can replicate the Beetle’s success without having to set up production outside of the U.S.  While I’ve previously discussed this, Central PA’s Radle Electric recently implemented a good example.  Since 2005, Radle has offered the full range of services you’d expect from an electrician.  This seems to leave little room for growth through new offerings.  Radle’s innovative solution was to extend its market by adding a lamp repair service.  Although outside the expected scope of services for an electrical contractor, the lamp repair service expands its potential market while building on Radle’s brand as a customer-focused electrical service company.

Delivering marketing messages that truly differentiates your product or service is the second Lesson Found.  Of course, the trick is realizing and then revealing that uniqueness which clearly increases the value of your product or service.  Pointing to weaknesses like VW’s “Think Small” message seems counter-intuitive and certainly not effective for every situation.  But businesses should take a deeper look inward to find an innovative answer to the question: “What does differentiate us?”  Next week’s Lesson Found will delve further into how to do this while staying true to your brand.

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? I would love to hear about it. Comment below or send me an email to let me know.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  Images by Heiko Stein from Pixabay