We’ve all heard the aphorism: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And a recent survey in Forbes.com proves there may be truth in that saying. Self-made billionaires were asked, “How many companies have you founded?” 90% of them answered “2 or more,” 30% said, “5 to 10” and an astonishing 36% answered, “more than 10.” Proof, again, that our professional roads are serpentine, not linear. Do you take many paths to realize your successes?
October 2013 - PS Insights
Steve’s been in demand lately—teaching social media writing to corporate marketing departments and Ad Fed clubs. He starts each session by writing three words on the easel: Less Is More (or, sometimes, Keep It Simple). We’ve blogged in the past about “write the billboard first,” but never has that been more important than in the area of social media writing. Do you Keep it Simple?
We were recently sent a link to a site explaining Amazon’s “Chaotic Storage” system. We don’t know if they’re the first to think of it, but it’s a brilliant rethink of the classic “nuts-go-with-bolts” hardware system that’s been in use for 5,000 years. (Or at least since the first Egyptian asked, “Which granary did we put the barley in…?”) Are you doing things the way they’ve always been done—or do you look for new methods that can make you smarter and more efficient?
When you’re editing a commercial for TV or video piece for the Web, remember the number of cuts per minute is a form of “writing.” Younger audiences can process more cuts in a 15-second commercial than older audiences can. So one way you “speak” to your customers is in the way you visualize your message. Do you know your audience well enough to make the right choices to best connect with them?
Every week we screen dozens of new commercials from around the world. And for years, we have admired the growing creativity coming from other countries. One of these centers of new creativity is Brazil—perhaps not coincidentally the host of the next World Cup and Olympics. The world learned marketing from the United States. So why have we let great creative escape? Or, as we like to challenge our clients: “How come so much of the advertising you like isn’t yours?”
Steve’s dad owned a chain of furniture stores. And one of Steve’s summer chores was to go into the warehouse and throw out all the newspaper and magazine ad slicks the manufacturers sent. Literally thousands. Too many marketers think that if they prepare some kind of “co-op” marketing program, retailers and franchisees will automatically come on board. Simple truth is that most retailers aren’t marketers…and don’t really know what to do with those “free” collateral materials and ad slicks. What do you do to make sure your marketing programs and materials make it to marketplace?
The beer business is tanking. The big brews – Bud, Miller, Coors are all down. Spirits are up and so is wine. But craft beers are the excitement in the suds game today. Delicious, special tasting, locally-brewed beers are the hallmarks of many communities today. What do you do to make sure innovation and authenticity don’t eclipse the mass market appeal you may have once owned?
The hardest skill Steve had to learn in business is the art of leaving things alone. His mentor once told him that the true gift of a great manager is the ability to hesitate before critiquing work and asking yourself, “Is my suggestion going to make this better—or just different?” Most of the time, the answer is “just different.” In which case your wisest strategy is to keep your mouth shut and let the people you hired do their jobs. They’ll appreciate it—and appreciate you, too. Do you celebrate the great work of other people rather than tampering with it just to put your mark on it?
There are over 400,000 licensed home improvement firms in the U.S. and Canada. So why Mike Holmes? Why does this (sorta) cute (in a beefy kind of way) renovator have three series on HGTV as well as his own magazine? We saw an interview with him recently, and when a homeowner asked what his job was, he replied, “My job is to make your dreams come true.” He didn’t say, “I’m a renovator” or “I’m a contractor.” He understands he’s in the dream fulfillment business, not the home improvement business. Do you know what business you’re in?
Paul’s wife recently went to buy a chicken and all she could find in the supermarket was parts. Care for 25 chicken wings? Ah, tailgating season! It’s party time in the chicken business, but the ability to make a simple meal for the family seems to be a lost art. Are you building your business for specialty markets and leaving your original market behind?