On this episode of the Automotive Aftermarket Masterclass:
- I refuse to talk tactics
- I get a little pissy.
- Discuss how Taylor Swift is kicking your butt
- We learn to ‘see’
- Discuss why Karl Benz was an amazing idiot
- Dance with fear
I’ve been to PRI a few years now, but this year I did something a little bit different. I asked two dozen companies for topics in which to build classes around, these classes. Each of are are on the premise of what they would like to learn more about in regards to marketing and branding.
Most of those companies suggested classes around tactics. They wanted to know how to do certain things. They wanted to know how to reach more people, improve engagement, get more likes, get more shares, that type of thing. You know what they didn’t suggest? The customer. At all. They didn’t ask how they can improve their messaging. They didn’t ask how they can improve customer service. They didn’t ask how they could make it easier for the customer to learn, get educated, or buy. Each of them simply wanted to know how to generate the most immediate return possible.
Which I get. I have empathy for that. However, a tactical only approach is a bit short sighted. I’m not interested in teaching you tactics now. We’re all using the same Instagram app as Nike, we’re using the same YouTube as GoPro, using the same internet as Zappos. And none of those things matter. They’re merely byproducts. Instead, I’m more interested in teaching you how to see.
If you can see the market as the way it is rather than the way you want it to be, all of those tactics become 1000 times easier. Once you’ve learned to see with fresh eyes and say, “Wait. Here’s this new platform. I can overwhelm my customers with value and generosity. I’m not going to worry about the business model, or the number of likes, or the number of impressions.” The next thing you know, you have one million followers who actually give a shit about what you have to say. Meanwhile, the laggards who are waiting for the Instagram for Dummies to come out are once again left in the dust complaining that the marketing landscape changed on them again.
Do you remember when Instagram first came onto the scene and everybody was on Facebook and Twitter? So many people missed the Instagram boat because they couldn’t wink out or track the sale from the platform. Therefore, it wasn’t valued. The value curve of a transaction versus the lifetime branding of a company is both the disconnect and the opportunity, so we hesitate and we hide. We hide and we ask ourselves, “What will happen if?” But there’s a better question that we can ask and that’s, “What is it for? What do I actually do? What is it for? This photo I’m taking, what is it for? This thing that I’m putting out into the world, what is it for?”
If we can acknowledge what it’s for, then we focus on what we’re doing in the first place. That framing of “What I do?”, is it giving people the tools to smile, elevate people’s careers, get them inducted into a hall of fame? Whatever it is, does the work you are actually producing match what the work is for? If you tell me that you want to create content to educate your customers but your strategy consists of nothing but sales and promotions, then the work you say is for x, is actually for y. The alignment between your intention and the customer is broken. Touting the benefits of your product in every single post doesn’t provide your customers value, it provides you value. It doesn’t build brand. It brands a commodity.
It goes without saying that we work and play in this industry that is ferociously competitive with slim margins, yet everybody is playing the same game at the same time. All of which, all these, all of us are just trying to out-yell each other. Woolworths played that game. They hesitated in moving from radio to t.v. and lost. Blockbuster met a similar fate and so did Sears. To break through the noise, by definition, you have to fundamentally do something different than whatever everybody else is doing when everybody else is doing the same thing.
Think of it as the Taylor Swift Rule. She had culture by scaling the unscalable. She knows that when people tweet her and ask her to sing at their wedding, Taylor may actually do it. That 75 minute allocation of time is not RY positive for Taylor. However the amplification of doing something that makes no sense on paper is exactly where she gets all the value.
Another example is Karl Benz. He launched his car when there were no roads and no gas stations. It was a dumb time to launch a car company but he did it anyway and he built one hell of a brand. Here’s the point. I’m not suggesting that you completely uproot your sales initiatives but some of you have hit a plateau and you’re not quite sure how to break through. Or as I mentioned at the beginning, only concerned with short term results. Survival.
You’ll never be ready to go against the grain. It’s just in our DNA. It’s the whole “fight or flight” thing. You’ll never be 100% prepared to ignore this month’s sales report in lieu of building a brand. That fear will always be there. However, you can learn to dance with it.