Reinventing The Wheel ( Do What Works)
American ingenuity and innovation have been the cornerstone of this country. The pioneers and brilliant minds behind some of our greatest inventions certainly had to go through trial and error before getting it just right. Libraries and the internet is filled with information shared by people that took time to fail and succeed at their niche, craft, invention, recipe, program, business, and so on… Some of these people thought it was prudent to document the process with the intent of sharing it with the public so other like-minded people can input and possibly make it better. It’s literally thousands of products on retailer selves that were created by someone and it sparked an idea in someone else to add to it to enhance it or recreate a better version of it. In music, they call it a remix.
Don’t misjudge this article yet by the title. ( Do What Works) by no means am I saying don’t be creative or try not to work on unique projects, In fact, I encourage everyone to think outside the box but as a graphic designer I also know that it’s not hard to get tunnel vision and can easily overlook other alternatives or solutions when your focus is getting it done the way you think you know is best.
One of the examples I like to use about doing what works is McDonald’s, In 2020 the fast-food giant spent 654.7 million U.S. dollars in advertising through different platforms and markets. Obviously the average restaurant or business for that matter doesn’t have that kind of budget to spend but the point is their brand is recognized enough across the globe for them to release a new product and sell it successfully without any advertising at all, probably with just their daily walk-in customers alone, yet they do it anyway. That makes it seem like spending over six and a half million dollars on advertising during the Covet 19 pandemic may be a little excessive but if their advertising team ( Wieden+Kennedy New York ) projected that budget then trust that it’s a well mapped out plan that has been researched, developed, tested then applied to the real world, So it probably works.
Some people spend years of their life dedicated to one goal and others may go to college until obtaining a master’s or doctorates degree to become a certified professional. When you attended junior high, high school, or college you trusted that your math teacher was good at math so you took their advice with very little research on other possible answers because they were a professional. Business should be no different, of course, I’m not saying don’t do your own research but having a pivot point is crucial to any process. Being inspired and following a path taken by predecessors brought the world Kobe Bryant. He was one of basketball’s great players in history that repeatedly said he watched old footage of the players before him to get his game on the level he desired. History leaves behind documents, books, audio, and video of past mistakes and successes for us to learn from so taking advantage of that information is what it is there for.
The point I was making earlier with Mcdonald’s is if they spend that budget on advertising in one year then that system must work. The same point I was making with Kobe Bryant is he watched and studied the greats before him so he could ( Do What Works ). A lot of smaller businesses don’t see the real value in spending a significant amount of money on advertising so most stick to business cards, flyers, brochures, or any other low-level marketing materials because it’s safe and the #1 reason is that they can physically touch it!
For a minute let’s talk about buying and seeing value in things that you can’t physically see or touch. Some people will never grasp the concept of spending money on something that they can’t hold, or wear or drive but to really make money that concept can be a hindrance. Most advertising outlets especially today because of the internet, like podcast advertising, you don’t really know how well it’s working until a few go-arounds which makes it risky and that process can be discouraging and initially costly. If you are not in the advertising business then you may not realize how bombarded we are with these paid ads that companies not only have no clue exactly where their ads are placed but when it will be seen, but one thing’s for sure, they work!
Being influenced and taking a path by someone that achieved a goal that you hope to achieve seems like the most logical thing to do and it is. Business gurus almost always end up writing and selling some How To Get Rich Doing This book or holding some expensive seminar in an exclusive venue. That’s because they know that following a guideline or blueprint even if you see flaws in it may lead you in the right direction or at least the direction of inspiration to become more clever with your endeavors and show value in places that may have been overlooked.
So whether you are watching old footage of your basketball heroes or reading a how-to book from some rich guy knowing industry standards and understanding what did and what did not work in the past can be a pathed foundation for your business and personal life so think about some of these things before you start reinventing the wheel.