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Stuart Maister
Stuart Maister 11 April 2016

Two Big Ideas That Make TomTom a Market Leader

While on holiday, I watched the CEO of transport navigation company TomTom give a masterclass on CNN in how to demonstrate market leadership by not talking about your products. And demonstrated one of my key ideas, that your reality is your story brought to life, and on the other hand, narrative is well-captured reality. Here's how.

Firstly he defined his company's mission as tackling the world's congestion. They had even released some research into how congested the world is becoming. My guess is that it provided some view about how much that costs in time and money - a great PR platform.

Think about that. It's a really big idea that is right at the critical nexus of why his target market should care (tackle the congestion they face) with how his company delivers its service (provide real time information to help you avoid the congestion). That is exactly the place from which all big narrative ideas should emerge - ones that mean the most to the target group and reflect your own biggest strength.

Secondly he went on to discuss the Connected Car - now a reality through devices like, you guessed it, TomTom.  It puts his proposition at the heart of a big, interesting idea of real meaning to his target audience. It gave him a platform to talk about the investment they are making into the newest technologies to make driving a smarter, safer, faster activity. It positioned TomTom as an innovator.

All without ever talking in any detail about his product. He didn't need to  - this was a clear example of a powerful leadership narrative built on two big ideas that makes you link TomTom to positive outcomes, not to a device on your dashboard.

Finally, he delivered both ideas with passion and conviction. He was a gift to the interviewer - articulate, enthusiastic and clear about the importance of these big ideas. I am sure the interview was driven by the release of the research, but it was also clear that they are at the heart of the TomTom go to market story, not just a PR stunt. See other posts of mine about the importance of authenticity. TomTom's CEO seemed genuine and focussed, and anyone watching would buy into his story - and therefore his company.

Reality: your story brought to life

The two big ideas that TomTom have used to build their narrative also link to another exciting dimension to the company. The ideas intersect around the issue of Smart Cities. Individuals and businesses want to tackle congestion - but so do cities. So do governments. And critical to the effort is the Connected Car as part of the whole Smart City movement, in which the ability to track people and things and process that information en mass and in real time means you can make smart decisions - about traffic light phasing, for example.

As you will expect, TomTom is already active in this area. After  the idea occurred to me I Googled it and found links like this.  Further kudos to TomTom in my view: the narrative themes work across all markets, all applications and all audiences, and link together to form a powerful strategy. Narrative is not fluff, it is the key expression of strategy and execution. It is driven by these and is one of their drivers. TomTom demonstrates that brilliantly. 

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