In the movie City Slickers Jack Palance’s character tells Billy Crystal that the secret to life is one thing. Crystal, of course, is left to discover what that one thing in life is on his own, but I believe the same is true for business. I believe the most effective marketing strategies, the one’s that I call real-life marketing strategies, hold together by focusing relentlessly on one simple thing.
That one simple thing can be an idea, like providing shoes to kids in need around the world as Tom’s One for One Movement does, focusing on simple, yet stunning design, as many people feel Apple does, or building a business by intentionally keeping things simple, in both products and processes, as I believe 37Signals does.
In all cases though, these companies accomplish many, many things, but do so first and foremost through the realization of one single-minded purpose. This single minded purpose is the filter for every business decision, hiring decision, product decision, and marketing campaign – and it often starts by simply realizing and capturing who the company is being at some point in time – the here’s what we really stand for moment.
Of course, finding and committing to a real-life marketing strategy – the one thing – isn’t enough. You’ve also got to find a way to make it part of the DNA of the organization. You’ve got find symbols and stories and metaphors that allow every part of your business ecosystem embrace the strategy.
There’s an article in this month’s issue of strategy + business magazine titled Eat Your Peas: A Recipe for Culture Change. The article chronicles Jamie Oliver’s (Food Revolution) struggle to change the eating culture in a small community and how he finally breaks through by focusing on one simple and digestible theme – peas.
Previous attempts to change behavior and implement his ideas around healthy eating met with fierce resistance until he made the entire strategy all about embracing eating peas. This “one thing” became the metaphor for the entire culture shift.
In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I continue a solo discussion on this idea of real-life marketing strategy. Some of you may have guessed by my seeming infatuation with this topic that I may be working on something bigger related to this theme and you would be right.
I’m convinced there’s a book worth writing on the idea of creating real-life marketing strategy, the kind that amplifies why a business does what it does, the kind that demonstrate how a strong culture can become a powerful strategy, and the kind that suggests anyone, by embracing this idea of “one thing” can create a stunning brand.
So, tell me about companies that you think have this “one thing” down. Or, tell me what your one thing is and how you communicate it.
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