Recently, being different is being brought forward and embraced. Dave Rendall, author of the Freak Factor (a personal favorite), and Sunny Bonnell, author of Rare Breed, are making a point and a living calling out and promoting the power and value of being different. For me, being different has simply been a way of life. Seeing a different path and not being afraid to follow it is what I do and have always done. When I read “We used to get fired for the same reason we get hired” I thought they were talking about me. Here are three different stories of my experiences with taking a road less traveled and what it means today.
Case in Point: Number One
Historically, an employee of Andersen Windows started in the factory or in field service. I was one of the first few people hired from “outside” the company. I was hired for the new ideas and experiences I brought to the business. I was previously a small business owner and entrepreneur. It made sense that I was asked to lead two projects that required a different, more independent approach to the challenge. The first was the development of the remodeling and home improvement business. The second a rapid response product development project which also required an entrepreneur’s approach to business.
It was during this time I began describing my work as “swimming upstream,” an analogy based on running salmon, as I challenged the standing practices of the business. I embraced the challenge of being different. As a matter of fact, I promoted it. Unfortunately, when you swim upstream like the salmon you ultimately die. In my case, the reason I got hired was the reason I got fired (I actually resigned).
Case in Point: Number Two
Upon leaving Andersen Windows, I was hired to take the marketing of a challenger in the window industry, Weather Shield Windows and Doors, to a new level. I had a full vision of how to lift this brand and the business to new heights. We used speed to our advantage considering what I learned from the industry leader. Embracing legendary coach John Wooden’s “Be quick but don’t hurry” approach, we created a singular brand with a meaning hierarchy of product sub brands.
We built an aggressive advertising plan that asserted our position as challenger. We once purchased the first twenty-six pages in a trade magazine to run our full product catalog to announce our place in the market. This created such a stir in the industry, I was tagged “the most hated man in the window industry.” A couple of years later this same person endorsed me for a leadership position with his company.
The vision we had and the ideas we developed and delivered created so much demand the head of manufacturing regularly asked us to stop our marketing. At the same time, our sales partners could not get enough. This led to the company building new facilities and purchasing a competitor for the manufacturing capacity. Unfortunately, Success was overwhelming the business. I was fired for the same reason I was hired.
Case in Point: Number Three
If our approach to marketing was too powerful for one business and one brand, how about applying it to multiple businesses and numerous brands? Enter the marketing agency business. In my initial four weeks with the agency, I worked to reflect the owners of the business, their pace, and practice. At the end of the month, the owner asked me when I was going to take the lead. I forewarned him that I would be a taking a different path to success, which he supported… for seven years.
We took a very aggressive new business development approach that led to meteoric growth in clients, revenue, people, and profits. I was often asked by other agencies how we were able to achieve this level of success? One of my goals was for the name of agency to be the most recognized in the building products industry. I often shared that in year one people would ask who we were? In year two, people were asking if had you heard of this agency? By year three, people were asking to work with us. Unfortunately, this chapter ended when my partners decided on taking the road most often traveled by agencies. The reason I got hired is the same reason I got fired.
There is a Difference
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It was time to take things into my own hands and launch my own agency, Draper DNA. I started where all good marketers begin, by determining what makes us different and better. The answer to both questions is our ability to find a unique path to success that is both efficient and effective. I know many businesses say the same thing. We started by eliminating the incredible overhead most agencies carry and pass on to their clients (my lean manufacturing experience surfacing).
We partner with some of the most talented people in the country that share our approach of challenging conventional thinking. Our “Knights of the Roundtable” or “Avengers” business model (multi-generational references) eliminates the challenges more traditional agencies have with capacity of top talent. Our client’s do not have to sacrifice experience or skills for availability.
Our “virtual agency” approach was unique. We were often thought of as outliers until the pandemic. Our experience in working from remote locations across the country makes us leaders. We have not skipped a beat during the pandemic. We are prepared for most transitions the future may have in store. Having a vision and being able to execute it is the reason we get hired.
Let Us Show You
There is one constant in each of the stories I have shared with you and our work with your clients today. We ask what are the top challenges being faced and we work from there. We look for the best path forward including both those previous traveled and those less traveled. This leads to our vision for the outcome.
Let us show you how this works. Share with us your top three challenges and we will show you how we would overcome them. There is no cost to you unless you invite us to take the journey with you. This is a standing offer to you (plus a free t-shirt).