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A Peek Into Non Obvious Ways to Curate Ideas

A Peek into Non Obvious:

Rohit Bhargava’s Tips on How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future

I recently attended AdTech SF 2015, where I had the pleasure of hearing from Rohit Bhargava, bestselling author of many books, including “Non Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future.” In his recent presentation, he covered 5 of the 15 trends for this year as well as 5 tips to be a trend curator. What I loved most about his speech is how actionable the ideas were (he gave a stealable idea with each trend) and how he teaches readers to be trend predictors too. I liked it so much that I bought his book and am writing this blog. So, here you go, here are 4 of the top 15 trends and ideas for how you can be a trend spotter.

So, What are the Key Trends? How Do We Know They’re Good.

Before I begin, let me say that Rohit spends a year collecting current data and then at the end of the year aggregates the information to identify trends. He has been doing this for years and some of his other trend predictions included “Obsessive Productivity” which I am guilty of, “MeFunding” (or crowdfunding), “Curation,” and “Likeonomics” to name a few. Below are a few of this years’ 15 trends and how you can use them in your marketing. With each category Rohit gave examples and a stealable idea:

Imperfection on Purpose:

What is it? In it’s simplest terms, put things in misalignment on purpose so people notice. This stems from the belief that people seek out more personal and human experiences. To achieve this, brands can leverage quirkiness and intentional imperfection to be more human and desirable. For example, to fight against food waste, Intermarché, the 3rd largest supermarkets chain in France, decided to sell (30% cheaper) imperfect fruits and vegetables; claiming “who cares in a soup.” And Hans Brinker hostel hotel launched a campaign declaring, “It can’t get any worse. But we’ll do our best.” The marketing is so iconic the hotel has a book about their marketing.

What’s the stealable idea? Embrace your rare mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen in this era of fast paced marketing, but make the most of it. For example, if your web page is broken why not make light of it, share a haiku. The possibilities are limitless.

The Reluctant Marketer:

What is it? Gone are the days of the 2- for 1- special. Instead marketing is becoming broader than just promotion -- marketers are broadening their role to encompass the customer experience which means focusing on solving problems and delivering excellent content, offerings and experience. For example, Teatrenue Barcelona, a theater delivering comedy, experimented with a pay per laugh screen. The theater guaranteed that if their show was not funny you would not pay. Ticket sales are up 18% from this because they are delivering value and in a creative way. Another, more traditional example of value-added content is the age-old “Weber grill books” - the original content marketing. And finally, on a larger scale, Coca-Cola launched the “Small World World Machine,” basically a new-age vending machine aimed and connecting Pakistan and India using touch screens and the idea of sharing a moment.

What’s the stealable idea: So maybe you aren’t going to be building a vending machine for world peace any time soon, but you can still move away from promotions to solving problems. Whether that means forgoing the traditional white paper that pushes your product for a useful article or helpful YouTube videos, start thinking what you can do today to solve customer problems and deliver excellent content. Be useful instead of promotional.

Everyday stardom:

What is it? With more and more personalization and big data, consumers have more opportunity to be a hero. And this growth of personalization leads more consumers to expect every day interactions to be transformed into celebrity experiences. Think of Miles Scott, the #Batkid, who told the Make-A-Wish foundation that the one thing he wanted after being treated for leukemia was to be “batkid” for a day. The Make a Wish Foundation made that possible along with 20,000+ other San Franciscans. Or, consider the magic band from Disneyland. This band collects information and allows users to open their rooms with the band, get into parks, and collect photos. Disney characters can even greet users personally. The list goes on and on (for more, click here).

What is the stealable idea? Everyone wants to be recognized and celebrated. So celebrate your customers; offer them VIP treatment. One of the examples I personally liked is how Weheartit uses their customers as brand affiliates for brands like Victorias Secret and Macys. Or a hotel in Bali offers the “worlds latest check-out” for valued customers. Consider ways you can start making your customers or prospects everyday heroes or stars.


What is it? Content creators use social experiments and real life interaction to study human behaviors and build more realistic and entertaining narratives. For example Esther Honig, a journalist, asked designers in 25 different countries to photoshop her face to make her beautiful -- the results were so different that it underscored the question of “what is beauty.” And Dove has been very successful using this tact - for example Dove crossed the 50 million-view mark on YouTube with it’s latest video, “Campaign for Real Beauty,” that has a former FBI sketch artist draw women’s faces -- underscoring they are more beautiful than they think.

What is the stealable idea? Leverage this trend to visualize complex topics and tell emotional stories. For example, Prudential did a series of ads depicting real-life visual experiments with dominoes designed to demonstrate how just a small amount of money over time could grow (see video here). How can you leverage visuals and experiments to showcase impact or tell a complex story.

For all 15 trends, check out Rohit’s book, “Non Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict the Future,” or visit his blog here.

“What it takes to find trends - the 5 habits of trend curators”

  • Be observant: watch processes in action; be curious (emphasize with magazines)

  • Be fickle: take notes with sharpies. don’t dwell on an idea; capture a nugget, save it and consume it for later.

  • Be elegant: use poetic principals (original business plan herb kelleher on a napkin)

  • Be thoughtful: take time to pause; wait; think

  • If you are able to think in terms of understanding vs thinking in volumes. You too will be able to predict the future

Written by: Tara Verner, CEO Bee Direct Marketing

A brief description of AdTech presentation by Rohit Bhargava.

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