The following is the 3rd chapter from Peter Nevland’s book, Wiener Dog Marketing. His interview with Roy Williams about the business lessons from the Buda Wiener Dog Races continues here from where it left off in Chapter 1.
Peter: It’s easy when you’re in the middle of the crisis, in the battle, to be deceived by what you would call a stupid idea, right? Because of the emotions that are involved in it. What are the factors that keep people from being deceived into the idea that is not the wiener dog? What are the factors that keep people from being deceived into picking the lawn chair drill team or the riding lawnmower with jet packs?
Roy: Here’s the thing. It’s real simple, Peter. The mistake you have to make sure you don’t make is this… When you believe that other people are like you, that’s when you screwed up.
Roy: When you believe that everybody else thinks the way that you think, and because you know it, and because you’re certain of it, you think that everybody else knows it and is certain of it too, now you’re an idiot. Now you’re too stupid to breathe through your nose. The simple truth is, when you’ve lived a little while… when you’ve lived long enough to be able to vote, and drive a car, and buy beer, you should know this… Other people don’t think like you, and your thoughts are not representative of the majority.
Roy: And whenever you say, “ok, I need to figure some things out. Number one, what can I count on someone to do when my back is turned? They’re going to keep being who they already are. They’re going to keep being who they already are. That person, that dog is going to keep being who they already are…
Roy: …after my back is turned. It doesn’t matter what they said to my face. When I’m done talking, and I leave they’re going to continue to be who they already are.
Peter: This plays into Jeff Bezos’ comment that branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
Roy: Yes. Exactly. Precisely. That’s exactly right. So my position is, what can I count on remaining true regardless of how I feel. Regardless of what my preferences are. Regardless of what I think should be.
Roy: So there’s, Peter, If I was going to boil things down I would say it this way. There’s the way things ought to be… and then there’s the way things really are. And when you get deluded by the way things ought to be, you’re going to go through a world of pain and suffering and loss.
Peter: The way things ought to be is that power lawnmowers should be hugely noisy, they’re powerful, they’re exciting to a little crowd in Buda. And people doing some organized movements with lawn chairs should be cool because they’re taking a mundane thing and elevating it to an art. However, the actuality of it is that there’s no one who’s going to practice for hours and hours with lawn chairs even to the degree that synchronized swimmers would do that in a pool. Right? So, and if synchronized swimmers don’t get huge ratings, how would organized lawn chairs? And the same thing with power tools. If you’re talking about, they don’t even come up to the level of Indy 500. But with wiener dogs there’s a different motivation.
Roy: Exactly. Whenever you say, “you know, I’m counting on these people to perform in a way that makes no sense. Whenever you have this illusion that these people in a small town are going to come and put on this amazing, unbelievably coordinated, synchronized lawn chair drill team, it’s like, what are the odds of that really happening?” Any thinking person knows, zero. That isn’t going to happen. Now what are the odds of anybody showing up for this riding lawnmower race other than the one, jet powered lawnmower they got from “Tool Time” on Home Improvement. And I’m saying, so do you think a bunch of local nosepickers are going to come up with these incredibly powerful riding lawnmowers to go beat the jet powered lawnmower from Tool Time, from Home Improvement? It’s like, wait a minute, the only thing I know I can count on continuing to be who they are and what they are, is…
Roy: …I can count on the wiener dog to run its little legs off for its master to get a treat, because it loves its master. It sees its master. Its master is telling it to come, telling it to come, but it’s behind a little gate. It wants to go to its master. It’s losing its mind. And then you open the little gate, and it takes off like a rocket. And now we’re measuring the wiener dogs. The wiener dog has to be the wiener dog. It has to be the wiener dog. It can’t be anything other than the wiener dog. We don’t need to TRAIN it to be a wiener dog. We don’t need to PERSUADE it to be a wiener dog. It is a wiener dog.
Peter: It will do its wiener dog thing. The owners will do what they are devoted to do for their wiener dog.
Roy: Peter, when you choose a client, you know that I tell all of our partners this. When you’re choosing a client and agree to work for them, one thing you’re looking for is, are they capable of being successful without me? If the answer is, no, they’re not capable of being successful without me, walk away. Do not partner with that client. If they cannot be successful without you. If you’re the only thing that’s going to make them successful, walk away.
Peter: Will the wiener dog race succeed without the marketing of the great, New York Times bestselling, Wall Street Journal business-book-of-the-year-winning Roy Williams?
Roy: Absolutely. The only reason I was demanding the wiener dogs, I said, this idea will win. This idea will succeed. This idea does not need me. I can make it become bigger, and I can make it get there faster than it would on its own. But it will succeed on its own.
Roy: And I said, “You know what, this is a tremendous idea. I can turn my back and it will continue to be a tremendously great idea even if I’m not involved.” And I said, “Now, I want to accelerate that. I want to make it even bigger, even faster. But if it cannot be successful without me, I don’t want to be involved.”
Roy: And I said, when you’re looking for a wiener dog, you say, is this capable of succeeding even if I wasn’t involved. Will it succeed because it’s the right idea at the right time, and the wiener dog will continue to be a wiener dog no matter what? This client will continue to do the right thing no matter what. I don’t have to convince this client to do the right thing. I don’t have to convince the drill team to put together a great show. I don’t have to convince anybody to do anything. The wiener dog’s already CONVINCED. The wiener dog is already CONVINCED.
Peter: Is there enough love in the public for the offer that I’m saying we should go for?
Roy: Give people, offer people what they already want and you will succeed.
Roy: Don’t try to convince them to want what you’re offering. Offer them what they already want.
Peter: It’s like a one in one thousand proposition that you’re going to convince the public that they need to change their behavior in order to adopt and buy your product or service.
Roy: You’re not going to change the public’s beliefs, values or desires. Their beliefs, values and desires are locked and loaded. Either get in step with that, or shut up and die. Shut up and die, because what they believe, what they value and what they want isn’t going to change.
Roy: You can’t change it. I can’t change it. Nobody can change it. Either get in step with it… See, I didn’t have to change the wiener dog, Peter.
Roy: I counted on the wiener dog to keep being the wiener dog. You need to count on the customer to keep wanting what they want. You need to count on the client to keep doing what they do. And when you say, “the public wants this, the client’s offering this, and nobody knows it… Nobody knows that this client, or this would-be client, is offering what everybody wants.” Gee, I’m gonna put myself in the middle of that deal. I’m gonna be the success broker.
Peter: Yeah. I’m gonna talk about wiener dogs.
Roy: I’m gonna basically encourage wiener dogs to keep on being wiener dogs.
Have you been attempting to make the world the way it ought to be, or are you working with the way it actually is? It’s much easier to see the flaws in a dream or idea when it’s not yours and when it’s already proven its worth. Determining the best idea today out of wiener dogs, jet-powered lawnmowers and folding chair drill teams is as easy as looking backwards to determine the best performing stocks of the last decade. But if I asked you to pick the best performing stocks of the next decade, and I say that you will be forced to invest 100% of your net worth in those stocks, your emotions make that a much more difficult decision.
I have a lot of heating and air conditioning clients I work with. The thing that they all want is to sell more furnaces and air conditioners. That’s the big ticket item, and it keeps everyone paid. You’ve probably seen your fair share of ads for those exact items, offering thousands of dollars off. Why haven’t you responded to everyone of them? After all, you could save thousands of dollars? Because you don’t really want to buy a new furnace or air conditioner, and you don’t need a new one every year. You want to spend as little as possible and keep the unit you have running as long as possible.
If a heating and air conditioning company can blow people away with the service they deliver when they’re called for a small repair, or some kind of maintenance, they’ll get that customer’s business when it’s time to replace it. They’ll also generate word of mouth and expectations that they can meet every time. If their sole focus is new unit sales, they’ll eventually run out of people they can convince to buy a brand new air conditioner. Word will get out that all they want to do is sell you a new unit. Sounds like a short-term moneymaker, not a long-term business builder.
1. Where have you tried to force the world to be as it ought to be? Where should your focus actually be to align with the way the world is?
Can you continue to be who you are, no matter what? It takes time, focus, dedication and character to build a long-term business that everyone loves. It requires your team buying in to exactly what you believe as well. So many voices whisper in your and your employees’ ears, “you could make so much more if you would prioritize the high ticket items.” “No one will know if you fix it with a cheaper part that might break faster.”
But if you can resist the urge to bend the world to your will, and instead find new and better ways to deliver what they want, you will build an incredible reputation. Add marketing to that fire, and it will grow even faster. Once you gain momentum, it’s hard to stop revenue from coming in. The phone will keep ringing, even if you close your business for good.
Think of that for a second. The phone would still ring even after you’ve shut your doors forever. Paying attention to what your customers want and giving it to them is so powerful, they will choose you over all the other businesses who provide what you do, even after you’re gone. That sounds like real branding, and it’s way more powerful than color schemes and font choices.
2. What do you need to change in yourself and your team in order to consistently deliver what the world wants?