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Anonymous generosity

My old friend and colleague Ira Williams has just published his first manifesto. I think it’s pretty good. ChangeThis :: Speak Softly.

How the New Marketing changes Local Max

My earlier post on the Local Max really hit a chord, which I figured it would, because it woke me up in the middle of the night…

The obvious question, after you’ve had the conversation with your team about B, C and the pain of getting to Big Max is this, "How do we get to work to find the really big thing?"

The good news is that the new marketing makes it easier than ever before.

The cost of inventing, prototyping, manufacturing and especially advertising a new thing, concept, service or organization is a tiny fraction of what it used to be. In some industries, you can do it for 1% of what it used to cost.

Sooner or later, your team needs to embrace this fact.

What this means is simple… you can take the cash and the momentum you get from being at Local Max and invest a fraction of it to let a new team, a smaller team, a team without traditional constraints to go ahead and launch something new. Something that disrupts the market, that even competes with the mother ship.

And if it’s your career we’re talking about, the same thing is true. You don’t have to get a formal MBA or quit your job to start a profitable business or sideline. You can leverage the amazing tools that exist without having to wager everything.

There are two mistakes that satisfied Local Max folks make:
1. believing that they can get to the next Max in a linear, pain-free way
2. believing that the best way to get there is with brute force. More products more salespeople more ads more buildings more staff…

In fact, the opposite is true.

The more you help your little team, the harder it will be for them to find the new Max.

The bet isn’t the scary one that involves all your money or your full-time job. The bet is the scary one that involves intellectual risks and going way outside your safety zone to see what happens when you disrupt the status quo.

Lost Boots and the whole hog

"…maybe it was going to be my responsibility to keep upping the ante. I was in an automobile accident in 1960 with three other guys…All I know is that I was sitting in the car… and the next thing, I was in a field, far enough away from the car that I couldn’t see it. The car was crumpled like a cigarette pack… and inside it were my shoes. I’d been thrown completely out of my shoes and through the windshield.

"…I had the feeling that my life had been spared to do something… not to take any bullshit, to either go whole hog or not at all. Before that, I had been living at less than capacity. That event was the slingshot for the rest of my life. It was my second chance, and I got serious."

Jerry Garcia
(as quoted in Playing in the Band. Found the quote in the new Dead lyrics book.)

Understanding Local Max

My guess is that you’ve been wrestling with your Local Max.

If your organization or even your career is stuck, it may just be because of this chart.

LocalmaxwEveryone starts at that dot at the bottom left corner. You’re not succeeding because you haven’t started yet.

Then you try something. If it works, you end up at point A.

A is where you see results as the direct output of a strategy and hard work. A is the job you got after investing in an MBA. A is the sales you got after running an ad.

Of course, being a success-oriented capitalist, that’s not enough. So you do more. You push and hone and optimize until you end up at the Local Max. The Local Max is where your efforts really pay off.

So you try harder. And you end up at point B. Point B is a bummer. Point B is backwards. Point B is where the outcome of more effort against your strategy doesn’t return better results. So you retreat. You go back to your Local Max.

And that is where most people stay. Most people get stuck at the Local Max because changing strategy in any direction (this is really a 3D chart, but I’ve smushed it to make it easier) leads to poorer results.

You’ve got a very good job as an art director. To do better, you’d either have to move to another firm, move to another town, switch careers or go back to school. And all of them have costs and very uncertain returns, so you stay.

You have 100 competitors in an industry that is self-described as a commodity. You use the same tactics your competition does, because if you change your pricing or fundamentally alter your marketing outreach, you get punished in terms of sales or profits.

You’ve got summer camp with 80 kids in it. If you want to grow, you’ve learned the hard way that hiring one or two more senior staff people won’t work, because you can’t afford them. So you stick with what you’ve got.

The lie of Local Max is this: the chart is incomplete. It really looks like this:


Local Max isn’t actually that great when you realize that Big Max is not particularly far away.

The problem is that to get to Big Max, you need to go through step C, which is a horrible and scary place to be.

There were 10,000 single-location hamburger restaurants in the world when Ray Kroc decided to build a giant chain of franchised McDonald’s. Anyone could have done it. No one did. Because everyone who tried had to go through point C to get there. It took Colonel Sanders more than a decade of pain to get through point C.

Of course, it’s not just about growing sales or revenues. The Big Max/Local Max paradox affects everything from education to non-profits to politicians. If you have a "Max", whatever you’re measuring, the odds are you’re actually dealing with a Local Max, not the Big one.

If your market is changing, this idea is even more important to understand. That’s because changing markets are always surfacing new Big Max points, and the only way to get to them is to go through the pain (yes, it’s painful) of point C.

You can’t reinvent yourself and your organization until you deal with the fear of point C, and that’s hard to do without talking about it. I think the benefit of the Local Max curve is that it makes it easy for you and your team to have the conversation.

T shirts are the new bumperstickers

They’re everywhere online. Here’s a store for entrepreneurs:

Link: Solo Tees � Shirts for Today’s Entrepreneur.

Worth 1,000 bullet points?

Not sure if you got a chance to read Really Bad Powerpoint, the ebook that’s now inside of Free Prize Inside.

Either way, this post (go read it!) takes the idea farther than I did, and the images are a vital and essential warning sign to anyone who has ever considered giving a presentation.

Of course TV ads work

…all you need for proof is the huge margin of victory that Mike Bloomberg is going to rack up in his race for Mayor of NYC tomorrow.

Worth noting that he spend $60,000,000 of his own money. If you buy enough TV, of course it works.

Worth noting that you don’t have $60,000,000.

Also worth noting that his opponent, Freddy Ferrer, will spend seven million dollars. To lose. By a lot.

Yes, it helps that Bloomberg is turning out to be a great mayor, far better than his predecessor. But it’s also clear that having 6x time the money and the advantage of a bigger and better brand makes it impossible for a challenger to use the same media tools to catch up.

Most brands, most products, most candidates–are Freddy, not Mike. If you intend to grow and gain share, your seven million dollars isn’t going to help a bit if you spend it on a medium that rewards the market leader.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that virtually all political marketers agree that TV ads work when they get the opponent’s supporters to stay home… that it’s way easier to market acceptance and laziness than it is to market action and change.

So, if you’re Freddy (not Mike) and you want to grow, time to make a remarkable product and market it in a new way.

Mine, ours, everyone’s

Last night, we had a spectacular party for The Big Moo. It was coordinated and orchestrated and magically run by Julie Anixter and Dean Debiase at remarkabalize.com.

The lesson of the response we’re getting (people waited in line for almost an hour to get books signed) is that the project went from being mine (for about a week, while I thought about it) to ours (as I signed up each of 32 co-authors) to a tool for all of us (as I watch the book getting used in ways I never intended, by people I don’t even know.)

This three-step progression is getting more and more common. Pierre (a fellow Tufts alum) is giving $100 million in eBay stock to Tufts today. eBay started as his. Then it belonged to investors and employees. But now, clearly, it’s a tool for millions of people to make a living with.

Each step is difficult, because it goes counter to the rules we learned at kindergarten recess. How can mine to ours benefit me? How can ours to all of us be a good thing?

It turns out that the process is worth it, even when it doesn’t lead to cash. The shared bounty benefits all the players.


Revenge of the nerds

Lorenzo Geraci points us to: Mark’s Sysinternals Blog: Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far.

You can skip the stuff up top (I know I did) but scroll down to the comments below.

Bottom line is that Sony’s DRM did nasty stuff to Mark’s PC, and he called them on it.

And so the word spreads.

The net makes information leaky. It’s really hard to isolate unhappy customers now.

Ramit was ahead of me

As usual. Here’s his riff on greed and speed.