“What is this?” said the hamster with slightly weary irritation.

“It is hamster wheel” said the 5-star innovation czar (V.P. EMEA and Asia Pac hamster wheel division)

“I have one thanks. I really don’t need a new one” said the hamster trying not to engage in conversation and tucking into a lightly salted almond.

“That’s what they all say, but I have something here that will blow your hamster mind – I have a 23 second video that has really whizzy graphics and a great base beat.”

The 5-star innovation czar was used to hearing people say no thanks, but he also knew that on Linked-In someone called a Hamster Influencer had said 23 second videos were proven to be the optimum length of promo video.

So the hamster watched the video, mostly to eat another lightly salted almond, and agreed that the graphics were whizzy. He also noted that he had tapped one of his feet to the beat. However, he was still not convinced to buy a new wheel, being more pre-occupied with a bit of lightly salted almond stuck between two teeth.

“Look” said the hamster, not wanting to be unkind, “I really don’t need a new wheel. My old wheel is just fine. It costs me nothing and while it is not as fast as your new wheel and doesn’t come with a light-up dashboard in the cloud, I know exactly where I am. Besides, going faster, frankly doesn’t add a lot to my life”

“OK” said the 5-star innovation czar, “but let me do you a deal. We’ll not sell you the product, we’ll give you the new wheel for free and if you do not want the new light-up dashboard, we have this amazing design feature which means you can turn it off”.

The 5-star innovation czar knew this was a deal clinching offer. It had worked so many times before and he was super confident now…

“But what’s in this for you?” asked the hamster, somewhat perplexed at the idea of someone giving away their product quite so cheerfully.

“Don’t worry about me” said the 5-star innovation czar. “We call this investment in relationships marketing (IRM). I have an IRM budget and if I don’t use it, it will be taken away. IRM is a tried and trusted way to help make the market receptive to our brand values (BVs). You see, in the bad old days when we would have time for lunch, I’d buy you lunch and then you would buy the product. However, because lunch is now a potential bribe, and offends our BVs, we have cut out the eating together bit and the money we save on fine dining means I can give you the product!”

“Wow!” said the hamster, “That’s amazing. I get a new wheel, but I don’t have to change what I do because your brilliant design means I can ignore the new features. You do not lose your IRM budget and your investors are happy because they see that a new wheel replaced my old wheel and thus proves the market exists ahead of some fancy listing. And the added salt on the almond, is that your compliance officer is happy there was no bribe!”

“It is even better than that” said the 5-star innovation czar, “We will now most likely win an innovation medal at the “hamsta’ extravaganza” awards dinner which this year is in Albuquerque. I tell you, life is good!”

“Golly”, said the hamster, “I never knew the hamster wheel market was changing so fast. We truly do live in extraordinary times.”

The end.