#TBT: You Are Your Marketing, Part II

Happy #TBT! Here’s an oldie-but-goodie post from Jim: You Are Your Marketing, Part II. [This post was originally published in April 2009. Read Part I here.]

Unfortunately, being your own marketing goes a lot deeper than just designing a cool product, service, show or whatever.

It’s about building your whole operation to support that which is cool and interesting about what you do.

It’s about commitment to something special.

And it’s the enemy of mediocrity.

Photo Credit: Andrew Yardley via Unsplash

Yesterday, I was reminded of this as I stood in line at a rental car counter at the Oakland Airport. There were five people in line, and a single employee at the counter of a major national car rental company. Even though probably all of us had made our reservations online and filled out all the particulars of who we are, what kind of car we wanted, the process took five or six minutes per person. Name … tap, tap, tap, tap, tap … phone number … tap, tap, tap, tap …. [silence] … tap, tap, tap, tap.

Don’t get me wrong. It certainly wasn’t the employee’s fault. She handled it all fine, but the organization itself was set up to deliver an extremely mediocre experience. A long wait for something that, after an online reservation has already been completed, should be easy. Is it any wonder you can hardly tell these companies apart? Same prices, same cars, same locations: It’s truly a commitment to mediocrity that goes deep.

We talked in Part I about some examples of things that are their own marketing, but we were looking at the outcome. Pinkberry is its own marketing because of what the management of the company has undertaken to do. In other words, that’s the effect, not the cause.

To get there, you have to know what the Arrowhead is. When someone shoots a bow and arrow, there are a number of things involved: an archer, the strength to pull back the string, the skill to aim, the fletching on the back of the arrow itself to make it fly straight, the shaft of the arrow and, of course, the arrowhead.

But the only thing that ultimately makes an impact is the arrowhead. If it hits, you’re successful. If it doesn’t, then the whole thing is a bit of a waste. The arrowhead is the thing that makes you special, but if all the resources of the organization aren’t lined up behind it, it doesn’t matter because it will never connect.

So the right way to think of your organization is as an arrowhead and then all the other parts that are there simply to propel the arrowhead. If the archer, the pulling of the string, the aim, the bow, the fletching and the shaft are not all aligned to the same goal, it’s not going to work.

You can’t have a fletching that’s designed to be accurate but slow with an archer who’s trying to shoot fast but not aiming too carefully. It’s incoherent, and it’s a recipe for mediocre results.

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