JABJAB

A blog in pink font.

Month: March, 2013

Elevator pitch

At the Global HQ of the world’s most unknown agency we do not have an elevator pitch. The experts tell you that you need an elevator pitch when you start your own company. Without an elevator pitch you won’t make it. It’s the ticket to glory because you can tell anyone within 30 to 60 seconds what you do. If you are not able to deliver this message you will suffer the “I-fucked-up-my-pitch-and-now-I-look-like-a-twit”-stroke and you will die a slow death, but not before the aliens have abducted you and done a range of unpleasant things to you. I am not kidding. This shit almost happened to us. We looked like twits, but we did manage to fight the aliens.

The idea of the elevator pitch is valid and useful. The execution of it, doing the actual pitch in the fashion suggested is rubbish, though. It comes across rather unnaturally and you are making an impression as if you are auditioning for an acting class but failed to take the sign where it said “Please take the next exit to your right”. Two exceptions:

  1. Your business needs funding and you present it to a venture capitalist or an angel investor. In this case your pitch will actually be a short 30 to 60 second monologue  as opposed to a conversation because your audience is expecting it.
  2. You are at some boring business networking event where people find pleasure in trying to impress each other with their pitches.

Obviously you need to know what your biz is about and it shouldn’t take you 30 minutes to articulate what you do. But usually A says something to B, then B says something, A voices his opinion etc. I believe such an interaction is called conversation. So, if somebody asks what you do, I suggest to keep it simple. Reason: information overload. If you flood people with information, the reaction will be “I didn’t quite get it, could you explain that again please?” Nobody has been waiting for you to pitch them. Just give them one piece at a time and usually people will express an interest and respond with a question. When people ask us what we do, we tell them (apart from having no experience) that we are in the marketing biz. Some react with a question such as “Marketing, what kind of marketing?” So I ask them what their definition of the apparent kinds of marketing is. Next they explain what they mean and that’s where you get to dive in and provide further details. Conversation. You listen, you ask, you respond. Imagine the response would have been “We offer marketing solutions to  companies which are bla bla bla… our unique selling proposition is based on the fact that bla bla bla…”. Then you smile and hope that the person goes “Wow, I am not only impressed, in addition to that you just made my day. As a matter of fact I will now remember you for the rest of my life and when I bump into somebody who could use your services I will surely refer them to you”. Unlikely. There’s a higher probability that the  reaction will be “You got me confused, try again please, but in  way that I understand”. Just because you were delivering a message. Instead of keeping it simple and actually have a real conversation.

Next time don’t use the elevator. Take the stairs when you tell people what you do. Slow and sexy wins the race.

Experience

Being in charge of establishing the world’s most unknown agency, where the motto “another day, another dollar” has currently transformed into “another day, no dollar”, we are faced with the fact that we have no experience in what we do. I don’t have a typical background in the marketing business, nor does my partner in crime. At some point people ask us what qualifies us, what “experience” we have.  The majority’s common understanding of experience is pretty simple: an amount of years spent on the same subject. And if you want to do something else, common understanding suggests that you must get a degree in that specific area first prior to being entitled to enter the space. People are obsessed with getting formal qualifications. In my opinion that’s narrow-minded thinking.

A piece of paper may state that you have “learned” what you were supposed to learn. But it doesn’t actually say that you “did” what you are about to do. The real test still lies ahead of you. So you are back on square one, basically. That’s why I’m in favour of skipping degrees.  Obviously you need to read stuff about what you want to do, you need to look things up etc. but you don’t always necessarily need to get a degree first in order to embark on a journey. Rather have a chat with people who have been where you are right now, and listen to their stories, how they dealt with the obstacles. The internet offers a great range of accessible information, a lot of which is rubbish, but there is proper useful information out there (just to avoid any confusion: I’m not referring to the adult sites). Once you’ve discovered the gold nuggets, you read, you think and you do. All you need is a starting point. And the most important thing: common sense. They don’t teach you common sense at school or on the job. Common sense is something you need to develop on your own. By observing life in general, making your own conclusions and forming your own opinions. Then you try. Then you fall, then you stand up again. And at some point you will be walking. Because initially you tried.

So when people ask us what qualifies us, we say we have no experience. But we have ideas. And we bring these ideas to life. Trial and error. Just like everything else in life.

Success

So, here I am, writing a post on what success is. Or is not. That’s the question I have been asking myself a couple of times over the last few weeks.

I’m an entrepreneur, but then again perhaps I’m not a successful entrepreneur. Why is that? Well, here’s the thing: I’m living off my savings right now, I don’t have a queue of customers lined up in need of marketing revolutionary ideas that could make them massive like Virgin, Apple or whatever big shiz is out there. Me and my partner in crime have founded our company almost two months ago, our very own agency. This is currently it. We are having one and a half customers at the moment. Another potential customer is on the hook. If we’re lucky we will have two and a half customers by the end of March. Then you read all the success stories of other entrepreneurs in books, on various blogs, how they built up their businesses and accomplished everything what they ever dreamed of. Obviously successfully. But I never came across a piece that actually covers the whole story as it happens, i.e. in the making. It was always in retrospect. So I decided  to flip it: I’m writing as we are where we currently are, in the making, as it is happening in this very moment (which is at the kitchen table right now) – or as it is not happening, depending on the perspective you may apply.

I have no clue where the hell this journey is going to end, I just hope and believe  it will end well. After all, I want a house on the beach, a private jet and mad parties with hot chicks. But that already is the wrong thought. Not the one with the hot chicks, obviously, neither the one with the house. I’m talking about the journey ending well. It will never end since life itself is a journey. I know, it sounds cheesy, “life is a journey”, but it is very true. The linear stuff only happens in movies. A happens, then B, then C, D didn’t go that well, but hey, E was a blast, then F came and so forth.

Rubbish.

Y0u plan for A because your education and degree made you fit for purpose, you end up doing C, you realise that C wasn’t that great, how about J? Fuck yes, J is great, let’s do J, after a while you realise J isn’t that interesting anymore as you thought it was, it became too much of a routine. Let’s try B. Oh my God, I’d never thought that B would be so amazing and mind-blowing, I’ll actually stay with B forever. But then out of the blue came T, fuckin’ hell on earth, that was a knock-out and B went down the drain as well. I need a rest although I can see the opportunity W brings along with the risk that comes with it. Should I aim for W or should I opt for V? Let’s see what comes next. Life is organic, not linear.

So, what is success? It’s the result of what you do, that’s all. Same goes for failure. Failure is nothing else but negative success. You did something but you did it in a manner that was counter-productive hence its outcome didn’t benefit you.

Which values you attribute to success is subject to your own interpretation. The key is to actually see the little steps and value them. From time to time I visit our website. I read through it, then I think: we got a cool, fresh website. And I like it. And this is a success to me. Because it makes me feel good. And feeling good motivates. I’m going to bait another customer now. Maybe I’ll have three and a half customers by the end of March.

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