Sync & Swimm

Marketing, Stocks, Sales, Radio & Rants

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Pie Are Round!

From the moment I heard my 6th grade teacher say “Pie r Squared” I knew numbers could lie because everyone knows “Pie r Round”.   Flash forward a few years and I’m in first place for a major sales contest.  The top prize will go to the biggest percentage gain.  I was at $50,000 up 10%.  The person who beat me was at $10,000–up 50%.  Drats!  Numbers lied once again, (and now it’s costing me money!)  It didn’t matter that I brought in 5 times more money, what mattered to management  was the percentage increase. 

My latest round of being bullied by the figures?  In the past week I went to a local sporting event.  A three year old on a Casio could have counted up  1,500 people in attendance  in about 30 seconds.  The official number that was released by the team?  3,600…Absolutely crazy…  Numbers can be made to say anything.  I now question everything.  Do four out of five dentists really recommend Colgate?

I know many accountant types will read this and argue that numbers are pure and there is always a right and a wrong.  No arbitrary teacher to give you a C minus on your explanation of WWII.  No sir, right or wrong..No gray area.  The beauty of life by the numbers.   I get all that, and some things in life do come down to right or wrong.  However, when you can make statistics basically say anything,  you come to realize the world has many shades of gray.  The person who knows the facts the best, and can clearly articulate  them, usually gets their way on which shade.

Don’t just take every stat you hear as fact.  Do your own research. Ask your own questions.  The history books are usually written by the victors, and sometimes you need to dig a little deeper.

 

 

 

The Sounds Of Brilliance

All great ideas start out as nothing more than a thought of a dreamer.  Sometimes the dream stays trapped in the cerebral confines of the visionary,  never to  flourish.   Other times the dream is mixed in with the one ingredient that makes it all come together…action.  Without action and forward momentum, ideas just shrivel up on the vine, never to produce any fruits of brilliance.

The world is always looking for something different, something better, something out of the ordinary.  Tim Westergren had a better idea.  Tim was a musician who couldn’t get his songs played on the radio. That scenario probably sums up 99.9% of every musician who ever lived.  Did Tim whine,  complain and say how unfair life is?  No, Tim did the one thing that mediocre minds can’t comprehend—He reinvented the very industry that didn’t want him.  Much Like Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook when no fraternity would pledge him. 

Tim Westergren started Pandora Radio based on an idea to change the music industry…forever.  The real irony is now terrestrial radio is killing itself to have an online presence to rival Pandora.  It would have taken forward thinking  to embrace Pandora when they were still in the idea stage.  That would have required risk, and many times  the fear of loss is much stronger than the hope of gain.

I am  a huge fan of live, local radio.  It is one of my true loves.  However, I’m not so closed minded to think Pandora doesn’t offer another incredible entertainment experience.  Like a big stack of  your  favorite cd’s. ….and that’s the real point.  People embrace  more ways of entertaining themselves.  Radio listenership is actually  up, even in the era of Pandora. When several restaurants open up next to each other, most of the time they all do better because that area has become a destination… If you watch TV, you can still go to the movies. The world wants choices.

So what’s the next great idea that the purveyors of the status quo think is a joke right now?  I’m sure it’s out there, and it’s probably right under our nose.  Never underestimate a dreamer with a plan to take action, and has something to prove.

Selling A Better Mousetrap–(Or Butter Spray)

In the late 1800’s Ralph Waldo Emerson is given credit for the metaphor that has proceeded every great idea…”Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door”.    The first problem is Mr. Emerson didn’t actually say that quote.  The phrase is actually a misquotation of:

If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The second, and even more important problem with the mousetrap quote, is that it’s just not true.  It’s not enough to have a great idea.  That great idea has to be sold. There is no greater frustration than having a terrific idea shot down.

  In 1987 I had this idea for spray butter.  I was in the Air force at a base picnic and watched as Airman from every walk of life put butter on their ears of corn.  It was painful to watch. ..And kind of gross when they rolled an already bitten piece of corn back onto a stick of butter.  So pecking away at my 1965 Smith and Corona I fired off a bunch of letters to the leading  manufacturers of margarine and butter….My idea?  “Mista” Butter.  (Yes, a ridiculous play on “Mr. Butter”–but my original thought was the butter would spray in a cool mist–Hence, Mista Butter)  I received one letter back, and it politely  told me that they would  hand my letter off to their marketing department.  No grand rewards, no earth-shaking discovery. My little idea just shriveled up and died without the power of persuasion.

When I arrived back in the states several years later, every margarine company in the world had a spray butter.  Go check your refrigerator–I bet you have one in there right now–well, thank me! 

America  knows how to generate ideas.  What the average creative doesn’t know is how to sell them.  Everything has to be sold.  Apple computer’s first ideas came from Steve Wozniak, a brilliant programmer.  The name Apple would have never been a household name  if  the sales guy, Steve Jobs, didn’t pour in his marketing magic. 

Sales, advertising, and marketing are all skills that need to be honed like any other profession.  It takes years of mastery before a salesperson really knows how to motivate the person with the checkbook.  That is why just about every product or service has the sales side and the research/production side.  It takes both left and right brain thinking to get the public to embrace something new.  The number one thing for a company to realize is decision makers aren’t interested in you..They really aren’t.  All they are interested in is solving their own problems.

Even when you do find a way to solve their problems, they still have to be shown and told.  Trust needs to be established.  If your incredible new product scratches the itch and makes your prospects pain go away, you need to prove it.  Over and over again. 

The world doesn’t have an idea problems.  It has selling problems.  If everyone was put on some type of commission plan, the human race would advance 20 years overnight—-And  have plenty of “spray” options–maybe ketchup and mustard would work!?

 
 
 

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