Titles do not create great brands. It’s great performances produced by people who contribute like “owners” regardless of what it says on their business cards.
Excellent post on Business Pundit earlier this month:
Grossing over $150,000,000 in its first two weekends at the box office, “Iron Man” has come out of the gates as one of the top blockbusters of the year. If you haven’t seen it – believe the hype. Bar none it is the best ‘hero’ movie I’ve seen.
Aside from being wildly entertaining, Iron Man serves up a number of lessons that can be carried over to business.
Lesson 1 – Diversify Or Die
Robert Downey Jr., or “Iron Man” in the movie, saw the writing on the wall. While his seemingly flawless company was an industry leader and the best weapons company in the world, it was built on a business model that was fundamentally unsustainable.
Long-lasting businesses function in good and bad economic environments. They morph over time to maintain profitability, growth and viability. Most importantly, they align strategically with the vision of those running it.
If your business is faltering, ask yourself: “What can I do differently”? Know what your core competencies are, find hidden avenues to leverage these competencies, and don’t be afraid of an evolving vision.
Lesson 2 – Build Your Company With People You Can Trust
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about business, and a good lesson from the movie, is that you have to trust the people you are working with. Businesses are built by people – so if you can’t whole-heartedly trust and understand the motivations of those around you, there’s a problem. Look at the key employees in your business. Are they the best individuals to build your company?
Lesson 3 – Build Something That The World Has Never Seen
Cooker-cutter products serve a place in business. However, it is the game changing ideas that lead to industry dominance and sustainable competitive advantage. You obviously don’t need to build a flying iron man machine to achieve unwavering success, but you should be solving an aching problem in your industry. Are your products/services game changing?
Lesson 4 – Know Your Motivations
A lot of people in business, entrepreneurs especially, have disjointed priorities. They are in it for the power, the money, the glamor. Unfortunately, these motivations don’t deliver happiness or strong companies.
Do some soul searching and find out what your life’s work should be. Does it match up with what you’re doing? If not, it’s probably time to change your focus.
If you are looking for some good business lessons or just wanting to kill a couple of hours watching an entertaining movie – check out ‘Iron Man’. It might just change how you think about your business.
“When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them — And nobody ever takes note of it ‘cuz it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script, here’s how you do this — But I always say, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If somebody’s thinking, “How can I be really good?”, people are going to come to you. It’s much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.”
All of the strategies and marketing angles will be trumped by this one piece of advice everytime - “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. If you’re catching balls in the end zone week after week or motivating people to do their best and it works week after week you will be noticed. People want to notice you because it’s why the world spins. It’s why people are able to get out of bed and go to work. Aspiring to greatness is the honey in the lion.
Damn, Tim. Well put.
Every time I hear someone use the term “viral marketing,” I cringe. I know it seems like just a word, but I think it’s a concept that misses the mark and perpetuates some half-baked thinking.
I hated the word “viral” the very first time I heard it in the mid 1990s, probably because it made Marketing sound like we were spreading a disease other people had no choice but to spread, too. At the time, the whole “viral marketing” thing got people excited because it used the Internet to cheaply spread crap like Burger King videos or Hotmail invitations. Dance monkeys, dance.
Now that we’ve all been bombarded on the internet, the notion of something being viral is no more special than any other idea or phrase that catches on. That’s just part of Marketing’s job. For over a decade now, Advertising Agencies all over the country have some sort of “Viral Marketing” as part of their plan to try to get us to ask their version of the Subservient Chicken to do something obscene and then laugh about it. We all get a bajillion invitations to try products and there’s an asston of bite-sized digital entertainment gimmicks you can sneeze all over your friends. No question, you can get the word out quickly but spreading your message is a small part of the picture.
I remember sitting in a Jive meeting when someone mentioned viral marketing and then in the very next meeting engineers were talking about the importance of product adoption. The word “adoption” struck me. Why is spreading Marketing a disease but spreading product usage like bringing in a stray dog? Shouldn’t we be pushing for Adoptive Marketing? Marketing that people want, that leads to products people want? Viral Marketing is merely the quick transaction of ideas. But if no connection is made to the product, the Marketing can (at best) only make an ephemeral nick in brand perception. Adoptive Marketing can be just as “viral” but is so closely connected to the product that if the idea catches on, so does the product. In fact, the product is built to be remarkable and to be the primary Marketing engine. For people to spread Adoptive Marketing it means that within the product and the Marketing they:
- Discover recurring personal significance
- Control their own participation
- Believe it improves their situation
People adopt things they have an emotional connection to. They like it and/or it helps them. Adoptive Marketing is dependent on the product. Ask any Marketer who has the best Marketing and the first company they think of is Apple. But Apple’s ads only work because their product and retail experience backs up the Marketing. Apple practices Adoptive Marketing. The Marketing is the product. The product is the Marketing. You want to talk about the iPhone. You want to use the iPhone. You want to watch the Ads. It’s a social object. You care. You choose. It improves your situation. It’s feels unique, even if it’s not. When you’re successful with Adoptive Marketing you’ve earned the right to be an Organic Meme. Screw being viral.
The problem is most products suck. If your baby’s ugly, go market something you believe in. Or it’s time to sit down with the product and service group and have a heart-to-heart. Yes, I’m sure it’s not that easy but we can’t fix it for you. Perhaps you can think around your product to create a social-cause initiative that makes people love your ice cream, batteries or dryer sheets. No amount of dancing babies or viral videos will cover up the fact your product is boring.
"There is no single strategy that will carry your company forever—just ask my buddy Tom Peters, who wrote the fantastic book In Search of Excellence back in 1982, only to watch more than half of the companies he highlighted go out of business! Markets shift, consumer preferences change, new competitors appear, technology advances—and so must you. Even though I can recommend which of today’s popular strategies I believe deserve your attention, there is no guarantee that these same strategies will still be as relevant in 20 years. I think they will, but no one can see that far ahead.:
With all of that said, [these] are the six strategies on which all the great companies I studied were relentlessly focused."
Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.
Game Changer. 100% awesome in every way.
Empire Strikes Back
Actually improved on the original. The quintessential sci-fi adventure movie.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
Inflatable raft out of a crashing airplane. The annoying kid from Goonies. Kate Capshaw. Magical rocks? Indian cannibals. Please make it stop.
Return of the Jedi
E-W-O-K-S. (Okay, ROTJ also gave us Yoda, but the ewoks were in it more.)
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
Emphasis on "LAST." Cheesy father-son pathos. Derivative action scenes. Again, emphasis on "LAST."
Star Wars: Episode 1
Jar-Jar Binks. The race announcers during the pod race. The horrendous CGI. QuiGon was a patronizing moron with zero skills. We all gave him a pass here, expecting Episode 2 to redeem George a bit.
Star Wars: Episode 2
Awful dialogue, terrible CGI, the Jedi are dumb as hell, and the whiny kid that will one day become Darth Vader does not act like a boy/man in love at all, and no one can act.
Star Wars: Episode 3
Star Wars: Episode Crap. Total waste of three movies and everyone's time.
"The resurrected franchise has come a long way from its modest B-picture origins, and Spielberg, Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp fall victim to that dreaded disease of CGI-itis near the end. "Indiana Jones" has never been about the special effects, and when they commandeer the screen the actors shrink in every way."What? Are you on crack? "Modest B-picture origins?" "CGI-tis near the end?" "Indiana Jones has never been about the special effects?"
'"The Crystal Skull" ups the action ante considerably, with Ford and LaBeouf in a motorcycle chase that's like a moving three-card monte with car, bike and occasional bus zipping through the streets and onto campus. Everything is bigger and louder, from an extended jungle pursuit to a plunge over the waterfalls that makes Niagara Falls in a barrel look like child's play."Puke. The action scenes were so boring and derivative, even my kids were yawning. And so beyond unbelievable and poorly executed that even for a summer popcorn flick, they're downright insulting. In comparison, Michael Bay's Transformers is a friggin' masterpiece.
I believe we’re going to shift back to thinking customer service and community management are the core and not the fringe. I believe we’re going to move our communications practices back in-house for lots of what is currently pushed out to agencies and organizations. I believe that integrity, reputation, skills, and personality are going to trump some of our previous measures of professional ability. I believe the web and our devices will continue to move into tighter friendships, and that we will continue to train our devices to interpret more of the world around us on our behalf.
Here’s a quick way to really turn around your clients: be helpful.
Duh, sure, but... when was the last time you actually said those two words outloud during a strategy meeting or quarterly business review?
So many of you have inquired about our Chengdu office as a result of the earthquake and, as you know, we are very fortunate that all of our employees are safe and uninjured. But we also know and see in news, so many are not.
As a result, we have created the SYNNEX Earthquake Relief Fund (SERF) along with Give2Asia in San Francisco, CA. SYNNEX has launched a webpage on the Give2Asia website so that you, your family and your friends may access at www.give2asia.org/synnex for online donations. SYNNEX will be reviewing a list of projects and organizations that are recognized for their extending recovery help to the survivors of the earthquake in Chengdu and its surrounding areas. There will be much to do to help the families that will have been displaced in the next several months and we want to be certain that the much needed monies are provided directly to those organizations that are there and are recognized as first line providers. Also attached (below) is a brief document called “How to Give” that provides information on all the contribution methods that you and others may use to donate to SERF:
What's the number 1 reason agencies lose accounts? I would argue that it’s complacency. The agency is coasting. They probably don’t even realize they’re doing it. But after years with a product, it’s easy to get too close to it, to lean on old insights, to produce rather than create.
Taking a strategic approach to every project is fighting the coast.
But, more importantly, it's getting to do the best at your job - who wants to be a pair of hands when you can be a leader?
Once you've tried out the same Idea three or four times, only to find a big ugly mess at the end, it's just human nature to kill that Idea out on hand of the fifth go round. But a scrappy little rookie might look at it another way. Sure it didn't work the other times; so, what can we do differently to make it successful this time?
We all get into a groove. The creative brief works like this. Client Z will always want this. For retail, we always do this.
The new kid in the room carries none of that history. And asks - preferably in a brief way - why? Or how? Or what about this? Or do we have research on that?
Keep asking those questions. Looking for holes. There's always more to learn.
'No' is the easiest word to say. Finding a way to say 'yes' can be the first step to great work.
Well, I should say that 'staying on top of trends' is a pretty relative term these days. But, to stay somewhat aware of the cool stuff in my tiny area of addiction/interest, here are my top picks:
The first rule of b2b selling:
If it gets to the RFP stage, you lost.
Great business to business marketers (and profitable ones) make the sale long before that happens.
The RFP is an organizational punt, it's a way of saying, "it's all a commodity, we can't decide, cheap guy wins."
The cheap guy, of course, never wins.
Just got some work back from a new copyeditor hired by my publisher. She did a flawless job. She also wrecked my work. Totally wrecked it.
By sanding off every edge, removing every idiom, making each and every fact literally correct, she made it boring and dry and mechanical.
If they have licenses for copyeditors, she should have hers revoked.
I need to be really clear. She's not at fault. She did exactly what she was supposed to do. The fault lies in the job description, not the job. If the job description of your lawyer or boss or editor or client is to make sure everything is pure and perfect and proven and beyond reproach, they are making things worse, not better. (Unless you're in the vaccine business).
Almost everything you do has some sort of copyediting filter. It might be the legal eagle or the graphic supervisor or the customer service police. They're excellent at making round things fit perfectly through round holes.
Boring and ignored is fine with them, because no one complains.
Fortunately, copy editors have a remedy. It's a word called STET. Which means, "leave it alone, it was fine." Time to teach that to your editors, wherever they may be. Maybe there should be a t-shirt.
If all you want is safe, have baby food for dinner. Just leave me out of it.
Seen it happen. I've never had to punch anyone in the eyeball for sanding off any of my work's edges, but I've spent many a sleepless night re-writing pieces or reworking images or layouts that a subordinate or contractor completely stripped of any semblance of an edge... or style... or voice. It always sucks. And you always end up feeling sorry for the poor kid who screwed the pooch, because ultimately, maybe it wasn't entirely their fault. (How the hell are they supposed to know how to write like me or edit images the way I envisioned it when I shot them?) Design is a very personal thing. Designers are usually control freaks for a reason.
And compulsive perfectionists.
I feel your pain, Seth.
Make big promises; overdeliver.
If you can define great marketing in fewer words than that, you win.
"Big promises": treating people with respect, improving self-esteem, delivering results, contacting as often as you say you will but not more, including side effects in your planning, delivering joy, meeting spec, being on time, connecting people to one another, delivering consistency, offering value and on and on. Caring. The stories involved in your promises matter. That's often what people are buying.
This is the first place that the equation breaks down. Marketers often make big promises that appear to be unrealistic or are delivered in ways that don't match the worldview of the prospect. Marketers get carried away with themselves and focused on their greatness and forget to tell a story that people enjoy believing.
And sometimes, they make promises that are too small to get our attention. Boring promises are hardly worth making.
"Overdeliver" means doing more than you said you would, which is the secret to word of mouth.
Here, of course, the pitfall is obvious. You made too big a promise and you did your best, but no, you didn't overdeliver, not really. You didn't amaze and delight and yes, stun me with the incredible results of your offering.
Just because it's only four words doesn't mean it's easy!
Bake this into your qwan.
(Don't ask me what qwan is. Please. Just don't.)
Witnesses to the crash have told smh.com.au the group of about up to 60 professional cyclists were riding south on Southern Cross Drive, just south of Dacey Avenue, Mascot about 6.30am when a driver, agitated with being held up, accelerated in front of the pack and then slammed on his brakes.
One of the group said the motorists was "worrying" the rear of the pack, then overtook, pulled in front and slammed on his brakes, giving the riders no time to stop.
The resulting smash forced a semitrailer to lock up, jackknife and screech to a halt behind the cyclists while cars had to swerve to avoid them.
"Everyone's slammed into each other ... there were broken bikes - wheels busted and wheels snapped - and people lying on the road."
"Three female cyclists took the brunt of the accident, careering into the back of the braking vehicle, several of them being thrown into the air landing on the boot and roof of the car."
The best part:
It is understood (the authorities) know who the driver of the car is, and are attempting to contact him now.
It is expected he will be charged, including with failing to stop at the scene of an accident and negligent or dangerous driving.
There was no doubt the driver of the dark blue Ford Falcon - described by other witnesses as in his 30s with a female passenger - had done it deliberately, she said.
Labels: civilized behavior
In his post, Spike shares a pretty important rule when conjuring up a tagline (for your your business or for your unfortunate client): "Never use a tagline that just anyone can use. Ever."Excellent advice - and he offers some pretty great examples to make his point.
Gucci, Starbucks, RayBan, Yves St. Laurent, Cartier and Bentley may have taglines, but I’d venture to say no one knows what they are. Why? Because a strong brand doesn’t need to explain itself through a tagline.
I hate taglines with a passion. They almost always suck, and rarely add anything to the brand they are supposed to serve.
A few exceptions to put this comment in perspective:
HBO - It isn’t TV. It’s HBO.
VW - Drivers Wanted.
Apple - Think Different.
Why do these taglines work? Because these brands are market disruptors and game changers - and therefore need a little extra definition here and there. Beyond that, creating taglines for most companies is a complete waste of time. The fact that most taglines are boring and interchangeable more than illustrates that point.
A year and a half after debuting its first Zune, Microsoft is finally offering some content that makes use of that big color screen.
The software maker is releasing an update Tuesday to its Zune service that adds a video store with about 800 TV show episodes from NBC Universal, MTV, and a couple of other producers. For the moment, though, the store is far smaller than the TV options from iTunes or even from Microsoft's own Xbox Live Marketplace and offers no feature films.
"We feel it is more important and--customers tell us--to focus on short programming first," said Julio Estrada, general manager of Microsoft's Zune Social unit.
"Robert Downey Jr. nails Iron Man. More apropros, change nails to welds. For it is Downey who most significantly raises the quality bar of 'Iron Man' to the classic level of fellow comic book heroes Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. Welcome, new franchise."
"Move over, Superman. This lush, high-octane playboy never tasted so good. Iron Man has not only etched itself the mark of one of the best-reviewed films so far in 2008 but also one of the highest-rated superhero movies of all time."
"Robert Downey Jr., full-swing back into his acting genius, is exceptional as Iron Man. Life for Tony Stark is cool, and you can almost image him doing the Charlie Chaplin waddle across his workshop."
"This might be the most relevant superhero tale we have yet seen."
"Robert Downey Jr. delivers a knockout performance that alone is worth the price of admission to watch."
"It's Robert Downey Jr., having triumphed over his substance abuse battle, who puts the pedal to the metal and scores the freshest new franchise going."
"The best superhero movie since Spider-Man 2. Robert Downey Jr is the film's best special effect."
"Downey could have taken a tragic tack. But he has fun just figuring out how to make the armor suit work. His sarcasm and almost drunken Tony Curtis body language transform the scenes of Iron Man."
"In the proficient hands of Jon Favreau, abetted by a magnificent performance by Robert Downey, Jr., not only does Iron Man pay off, but it raises the stakes for comic book movies to follow, as well as the entire summer film season."
"Dangerously dependant on Robert Downey Jr. for entertainment. He throws a one-man party during every scene. But when he's off-screen, the film wilts. (Yes, even with Jeff Bridges' anti-Dude.) Re-cast, it would only be a shade better than Daredevil."Sure, the cgi is impressive, but without the superb casting and directing of Downey, the movie would not have been worth the $10 admission. Something Marvel must have figured out over the last year, when they decided to completely recast the "Hulk" Franchise for the upcoming Hulk sequel (The Incredible Hulk). Not that there was anything wrong with Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, but casting Edward Norton in the role for the sequel is pure genius. Too bad the cg design couldn't have been overhauled too.
“What position did you play?” seemed like an innocent enough question coming from my six-year-old grandson. Basketball is on his mind, as it is everyone’s this time of year.
The conventional answer, “I played center.” says so little. I’d rather tell him what I accomplished for the team - it means more.
My high school coach, in his “John Wooden-like” wisdom gave me an outcome to achieve. My position of “center” was just for the program.
Some of my opponents were temperamental and easy to frustrate into fouling me. Others were so confident they couldn’t wait to stuff the ball down my 5-foot, 11-inch frame every time I tried a shot - they were easy targets as well.
My position was “center” but my contribution was “strategic foul generation”.
In the business world, the word “title” is exchanged for “position”. People want to know what others do for a living - many reply with their title. But a title says so little!
In your career, it’s better to focus on the outcomes you bring to the team…
Contribution is more important than title – Titles mean a lot in the pecking order found in any organization or business community. However, in terms of ultimate brand impact, titles are about as substantial as cotton candy. Focus on your contribution regardless of title. You get “playing time” by contributing to wins - Titles come and go. When tough economic times require a hard look at “head count” how do you think decisions will be made - “We can’t let Jim go. We have to have an Assistant VP of Marketing!”? Not likely. To solidify your place on “the team” link your day-to-day outcomes to the brand’s success. You own the “how” of what you contribute - Own your outcomes. Don’t wait for someone to show you how - it may never happen. Find a way to deliver what the organization needs. Be creative. Be determined. People who know and own their contribution are what every team needs.
Titles do not create great brands. It’s great performances produced by people who contribute like “owners” regardless of what it says on their business cards.