There is a reason Nike has been included on a multitude of “best marketing campaign” lists for decades. While I’d like to give another company kudos of this kind, I love the FLYEASE story and the illustration of a company approaching product in this way. Of course, it caught my attention as a great human interest story.
It’s about a sweet kid trying to overcome the challenges of cerebral palsy he’s faced his entire life, and the people who chose to make a difference. His life is changed. He gets to meet his hero. He reminds us of how similar we are and how grateful we should be. But it also caught my attention because it illustrates that moment when the right product finds the right person, and the power in that connection. It speaks to the level of respect that can be earned when companies create customer-driven products.
Nike’s process didn’t start with “here’s a shoe, what target audience will it work for?” It started with, “here’s Matthew, he needs a shoe that works for him—and he’s not alone.” Not just to run better, or play basketball better, but to live better. This formula is precisely the kind of approach necessary for making a real impact with the products companies put out into the world.
Putting the customer first–understanding, listening, re-thinking, and changing based on their needs–is the only way to make sure that what companies are selling will not only be used, but treasured. And it’s the only way for a company to not just be in business, but to be revered.
Watch Nike’s video to see what I am talking about:
It’s so important to understand customers’ pain points to assess the best evolutionary path for products or solutions. As Nike’s mission describes, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete, which means insights may come from professionals, but they also arrive from unexpected places.” And, with FLYEASE, Nike not only helps all athletes, but also anyone that may find themselves less-able at some point in their lives. In the words of Nike’s Athlete Innovation Director, Tobie Hatfield, “At some point, some people become less able sooner than others. But eventually, we all become less able. Because again it’s not just about stroke victims, it’s not just about cerebral palsy, it’s about all of it. And that’s the FLYEASE technology.” So in effect, by helping people like Matthew, Nike has paved a road that many of us will walk down some day. Hopefully, wearing shoes like the FLYEASE.