So yesterday, Drayton Bird (whose work I greatly admire), sends out an email with the subject line:
“Why Black Friday is for idiots”
Certainly got my attention, so I checked it out, and it’s basically about the fact that people jump onto a bandwagon without really thinking about what they’re doing (and the only reason they’re doing it, is because others are doing it, which as the lemmings demonstrate isn’t always necessarily the best course of action)
He then goes onto (very cleverly) using this angle to “polarize” against jumping on bandwagons, and instead focusing on fundamentals (I hope you’re starting to see why I admire his work;-)
Despite all the admiration, today I’m going to (respectfully) disagree with this “polarization” step:
Polarization is a beautiful (psychological) tool for getting people to taking a stance, getting them to ‘buy into an idea’ (or reject it outright)
but sadly, it also chops off about half of your options!
Meaning: it’s great as a tool of influence, it’s rubbish when YOU the decision maker have ‘polarized’ views:
because you’re now operating in a Universe of limited choices, most of the feedback the Universe gives you tends to ‘confirm’ what you already suspected.
Thus confirming your original choice, and limiting your options even further.
Which then leads to far too many ‘untested’ beliefs like:
“oh, this is never going to work for my target audience” (so you’ll never even try)
“oh, I don’t like this, so surely (yeah right!) my target audience wouldn’t like it either”
and so on.
Very practical example:
a couple of friends just sent out a beautifully crafted email (I know you’re reading this: another job well done;-) that pretty much says “we will never discount”
And there’s the problem right there:
the word “never”.
Generally speaking, (and personally) I’m against discounting as well (we could have a whole debate why the ‘holiday season’ is THE season for brick ‘n mortar businesses … my take: it’s in (large) part because people shop less during the year KNOWING that there will be hefty discounts around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and then right after Christmas)
However, there’s a time and a place for discounts.
Used sparingly, they can be very effective at growing your customer base, showing some (massive) good-will, or even doing something as mundane as creating a quick cash-flow if and when you need it.
I’m not sure where I’ve read this, but apparently the mark of a great executive is that they can hold 2 different, and often opposing thoughts in their mind at the same time, without dismissing one out of hand.
And that’s my advice too:
Before jumping on bandwagons, before taking on a totally polarized view, at least ask yourself: is this likely to rob me of options later on?
if so, well, perhaps worth keeping an open mind!
PS: first exercise: neither reject nor adopt “polarization” outright. Like I say above: great tool for getting a ‘buy-in’ from your audience, rubbish when making strategic decisions. There’s a time and a place…
PPS: and with that ‘open mind’ in mind: you’ve probably heard me say this over and over again: the launch-model ***as a business-model*** sucks.
And I still believe that 100%.
However, that does not mean ‘launches’ in general suck.
They are fantastic for all kinds of things like:
- learning how to market
- building a list
- doing market research 100 time faster than before
- creating JV relationships
- forcing yourself to finally finish your product
- (or figuring out what product you should be creating in the first place)
- or even something as mundane as creating some quick cash-flow.
just don’t “do” them as the one and only business model because you’ve jumped on the bandwagon and now you can’t get off.
PPPS: ah, the power of Google;-)
just found this:
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle