First off, this 7-Eleven on South and Queen Street across from the Honolulu Fire Department is the sh*t, as the kids would say it nowadays. Unlimited access to drinks and snacks, a nice seating area with an ATM and a copy machine and Free WiFi from the FedEx next door. Ah-mazing. Alright, back on track.
Podcasts. They’re a lot cheaper than audiobooks, so that’s been my choice for passing the time behind the wheel lately. If you’ve ever talked to me about books, you’ll know I’m more of a practical guy. Probably 95% of the books on my kindle are non-fiction. However, I’m slowly learning the value in fiction writing, since that might be useful for my current pursuits. Anyway, last week I was listening to one of Tim Ferris’ podcasts (A very non-fiction-y, educational type podcast) with Seth Godin. Seth talks about branding and marketing, and it finally clicked with me… The reason why Island Event Logistics and Smooth Remedy have been doing so well over the last few years.
Let’s talk about branding. He says, our brand is the promise that we make, implicitly, or explicitly. Brands that keep their promises are consistent, and earn trust. I think most importantly he says that we have a brand whether we want one or not. Branding doesn’t occur only at meetings or consultations with clients, they happen at every interaction whether it’s at the grocery store, post office, or 7-Eleven. I often forget that someone is always watching, getting a first impression, or a last impression. We’ve definitely had our slipups here and there, but in general we’ve had very positive interactions with clients and potential clients. Seth says your brand is a story that helps people tell themselves a story about you. Whether it’s how you get things done on time, your accent, how tall you are, or even how you spell your name. Sometimes these stories are just outright unfair because they don’t really know you. There is just no way for anyone to know you that deeply, to get the full scope of your brand that only you know. Seth says it’s our job to “consistently and persistently show up in a way that amplifies that brand.”
Now that I got that information section out of the way, here’s the part that finally clicked. The feeling I’ve been having, but couldn’t quite put into words. Seth says this:
“You’re not getting that gig because you do a commodity a little cheaper than everyone. You’re getting that gig because you’re better. Better at knowing them. Better at being flexible. Better at going the extra mile. Better at keeping your promises. That we un-commoditize our work by making our work more human.”
I know there are tons of musicians out there that are better performers, better singers, and have better musicality than us. There are other companies that have more lights and workers than us. But we’ve made a name for ourselves by being accommodating, friendly, problem solvers not finger pointers, and maybe most important of all, genuine. We had to go through that phase of saying “yes” to everything we were offered, and we probably were hired because we were just a cheaper commodity. I don’t know if that’s what it takes in every situation, but that’s the route we took. It’s exciting to transition into a new period of having the gut and wisdom to choose wisely between all of the opportunities. To a bride and groom, a wedding musician’s work is a commodity. The lights are a commodity. We “un-commoditized” our work when we put being a ‘better human being’ first, and a ‘doing a business transaction’ second. I don’t know how much other musicians or lighting companies charge, but I can tell you with confidence that we aren’t getting business because we are a cheaper commodity. We’re getting business because we try to care a little more, and provide peace of mind to our clients because we will go to battle to deliver more than what we promise, and more than what they expect. That’s how we’ve chosen showing up to amplify that truth in our brand.
The future is exciting, and I know I’m in the right place with the right people to share that future with.