On Sunday’s CBS 60 Minutes’ show, there was a profile on Samuel L. Jackson. During the interview, reminiscing about winning movie awards, he said, “Winning an award won’t move the comma on your checks. Only putting butts in seats will do that.”
What does the audience want to see? That’s his approach to his work. No wonder he’s the highest grossing actor of all time!
What about you? What does your audience want? Are you devoted to giving it to them?
It’s a maxim old as dirt. Find out what people want and give it to them.
What promptly follows are mentions of the innovations that people didn’t ask for. Enter the Apple iPod, Ford’s Model A, Sony’s Betamax and a ton of other new products.
But people overlook the obvious. People DID want to take music with them. The Sony Walkman was displaced by the technology of the Apple iPod.
People DID want to be more mobile. The horse and buggy gave way to the Ford Model A.
People DID want to record TV shows so they could time-shift their viewing. That inability gave way to the ability enabled by the Sony Betamax video recorder.
More modern advancements of innovation are the result of human desires and human challenges. Technology serves both the desires and challenges. We can grow too fascinated with the tools or tech, but at the root of all marketing is our desire to have something we don’t, or to fix a problem we have.
What’s your equivalent of butts in the seat? What are you doing to improve that?
Sometimes I work with city governments or non-profit organizations. Unlike entrepreneurial based enterprises, they don’t focus on sales or revenues. But they’re still serving an audience. So no matter what type of organization you’re leading, you have an audience to serve. How well you do that will determine your success. Make application as it suits your operation.
More. Bigger. Better.
That’s the goal. You’ll have to figure out the measurements. Maybe it’s more customers. Maybe it’s more patrons or donors. Maybe it’s more sales tax revenue via economic development.
Maybe it’s bigger sales. Or it could be a bigger impact.
Better could be more efficient. More effective. It could also more profitable. It’s not being complacent with current results but focused on striving to make anything, or everything better.
Samual L. Jackson has been intent on maximizing his earning power as an actor. He’s been focused on delivering performances that please the audience. Jackson knows where his bread is buttered. Fans pay his way so he’s intently focused on making them happy.
He’s been quoted as saying that not everybody goes to the movies to have their life changed. The man knows he’s an entertainer. He’s good at it, too. Which is why his movies have grossed over $12 billion globally. He’s number 1 for good reason.
If you want to move the comma on your checks – either personally or for your organization – then you have to know who and what you are. Jackson knows his job. He also knows his audience.
Figure out who you are. Figure out what you are. Stop trying to be something else. Lean in hard to own your uniqueness.
Figure out who your audience is. What do they want? What do they need that you can provide? Don’t challenge it, or argue with them. That’s a surefire way to lose. The market gets to decide, not you. Give the market what it wants.
That doesn’t mean you compromise what you believe or what defines you (or your enterprise). It means you figure out how to make it fit with the demands of the market. Samuel L. Jackson has created his own genre in order to give the market what it wants. His market wants to be entertained. He knows there’s lots of latitude in that. Humor. Anger. Rage. Gentleness. Physical. Thoughtful. They all work and he’s made them all work at different times. In his own unique way.
Brand. It’s your brand. It’s the YOU that nobody can replicate. If you’re not standing out, then you’re losing. Your uniqueness and your organization’s uniqueness must stand out. It’s counter-intuitive for many because we love to copy cat success. But that’s the fast path to mediocrity, or worse.
Who else is like Samual L. Jackson? Go ahead. Think about it.
I recently watched a biography on actor Walter Matthau. The same could be said of him. Who else was like him? He didn’t have leading man looks, but he played leading men quite often. He was uniquely himself, even though by all accounts he was a gifted actor.
I’d argue that both Jackson and Matthau figured out they could move the comma on their checks by giving people what they wanted and doing it in a way unlike anybody else.
If you want Samual L. Jackson there’s just nobody else who will do.
When your audience wants something…will somebody else do? Will somebody else do it better than you? Then you’ve got work to do. Don’t despair, but stop trying to be like everybody else. You’re surrendering your best opportunity to have a bigger impact.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!