I rarely spend too much time watching reality TV shows. I think that if it wasn’t for Barry Manilow appearing last year on a segment, I might have missed the American Idol phenomenon completely. I also would have missed the immensely entertaining interaction between Simon Cowell, the Idol hopefuls, and the constantly changing rounds of Idol hopefuls. The auditions for the new talent are fantastic.
Simon is honest almost to the point of being a liar. Simon can be blunt or brutal if you are on his list of people he doesn’t like.
“That was completely unmemorable.”
Simon’s most famous statement is “I won’t even be capable of remembering your name, much less the songs you sang.”
It seems that performers need to find something new in their voices, styles, and performances that makes them memorable. The performance was not bad. It was simply average. It was just ordinary.
A number of articles I wrote last year were based on Seth Godin’s book “The Purple Cow”. Godin believes that brown cows can be overlooked because they are so common and mundane. He encourages organizations to be “purple cows” as that would make them memorable.
What is the secret to becoming a “purple Cow”? These are just a few of Godin’s examples.
Otto Rohwedder invente the sliced bread in 1912. Although it was a brilliant idea, it didn’t catch on until twenty years later. Wonder created a marketing program that changed the industry. The success of Wonder’s marketing program was not due to its product innovation.
Are you looking for new ways to protect your customers as an agency?
Morton has been making salt for more than 50 years. Salt is a “forgettable” ingredient. People in France did something quite remarkable. They started extracting salt from seawater and sold their “Sea Salt”, which cost $20 per pound.
What is the most memorable moment your agency has had in making protection memorable?
“This is a singing contest”
Simon reminds contestants that this is a singing contest. Although they may have performed well and danced well, their vocals were weak. American Idol was a singing competition. It didn’t matter how good they were at other things if their vocals were poor.
Ask your staff to name their business and they will most likely respond, “Service business.” If service is your agency’s defining responsibility, it makes sense that your customers will be grateful for your exceptional service in the event of loss.
You are in the business protecting people’s stuff. This must be the standard you use to judge your success. Your agency might need to undergo a major overhaul in order to transform the way your staff sees the competition. While you may be able to process, service, and perform other tasks well, you are still in a “protection contest.” That is ultimately what you will be judged upon.
Do your employees think their jobs are more “processing” than “protection?” It is important that they understand the type of competition you are in.
“That was not the right song for you.”
I don’t know how songs are chosen. However, contestants often experience a “disconnection” and sing the “wrong” song.
What is the difference between a good and bad song? It seems that it is related to the fact that singers choose songs they aren’t good at singing based on their strengths.
Jim Collins’ management classic “Good to Great” refers specifically to businesses that choose to do business only in the areas they are “good at”. Collins argues that the best companies do only what they are “great at.” They make sure that the song they sing is unique and competitive.
Being able to do what you love means giving up the industry’s most sacred cow, the generalist mentality. Fear of losing business is a major factor in many agencies giving up on the chance to win more business. Collins speaks of a “hedgehog principle” – Find what you are good at and then do it.
Walgreen is one of his examples. This remarkable organization realized that they could best be a local pharmacy. They won’t do business in malls or other “mass-market” locations. If an opportunity presents itself to open a new store, they will close the existing one. Why? Because corner locations are the best place to showcase their vision of greatness.
Are you ready to give up what you’re “good” at to focus on the things that you are “great at”?
Consider how America will vote for you agency. But don’t forget Simon’s greatest advice: Have fun!
Sometimes contestants and their agencies get so wrapped up in the desire to succeed that they lose sight of the joy of the journey. The journey is meaningless if it’s not enjoyable.
American Idol’s winner is chosen by America, and not the judges. This is something I love about it. One person can become America’s hero with a number of votes that rivals a presidential election. These same voters vote on a daily basis for your agency. Now the question is “How will they vote?”
How will America vote to support your agency? Are you a memorable winner? Or will America vote for your agency second? This might be a topic that you could discuss at your next staff meeting.