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Every Sunday I tune into Joel Osteen, I find his sermons to be more motivational than religious. This Sunday was no exception. Olsteen was talking about Jesus, the unconventional prophet, in a parable about Jesus making a blind man see on the Sabbath. Unconventional for sure and against the rules of the day, which were to keep the Sabbath holy.  The founders of Starbucks were also unconventional in thinking people will pay $3 – $5 dollars for a cup of coffee. Walt Disney too, was unconventional in his price point thinking and look where Disney is today.

As you proceed with the annual marketing planning process I challenge you to give unconventional your top priority. And I don’t mean pricing as unconventional, especially in the travel industry. Look at what your competitors are doing. Is it the same thing you are doing? How can you stretch your business in an unconventional way to make it a stand out among the generic marketplace offerings to encourage sales?

I thrive on unconventional. Here’s an example on how my monkey brain works. I had a private island resort client and was tasked to think outside the box. I reviewed the resort’s competitive set and found everyone was doing the same thing. Big surprise. I went back to the drawing board and came up with great idea, a spread in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. A feature like this would benefit the resort for a myriad of marketing reasons. Everyone laughed as the magazine rarely covers a single, stand-along resort and to be honest, the resort over the years had gained a reputation as passé. For one year I gently pushed my agenda to the producers at Sports Illustrated, and they would politely tell me no until one day in November, I got the call. Within a month the entire Sports Illustrated team was on property and the shoot was underway.

This effort generated a 22- page article, $7 million in advertising equivalency, and more importantly it assisted the resort in their re-branding efforts and increased their profits. Additionally, I won an international Platinum Award, the Mac Daddy of awards, presented by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.

Unconventional will never go out of style. How will you turn unconventional into a win in 2013?

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