The following is the 7th 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 from where it left off in Chapter 6.

Peter: I want you to tell me some of the silliest things that you have ever seen wiener dogs or businesses do. Just complete silliness.

Roy: Well, wiener dogs don’t actually do silly things, because wiener dogs are wiener dogs 24/7.

Peter: Now, you’re talking about the humor of my brother. My brother would like to think that he’s intentionally humorous, but in actuality he stands up on stage, and he starts moving back and forth from side to side…

Roy: He’s accidentally humorous.

Peter: Yeah, he just is humorous because of the way he looks when he does stuff. Wiener dogs are like that.

Roy: Wiener dogs can’t help but be wiener dogs. I’ve never seen a wiener dog do anything funny. Wiener dogs only do wiener dog things. They’re wiener dogs 24/7, and that’s why they’re reliable. You can always count on them to be a wiener dog. They cannot be anything but a wiener dog. It’s people who will surprise you. Wiener dogs will never surprise you.

Peter: Tell me about the surprising things from people.

Roy: Ok. And this is not what you’re looking for.

Peter: That’s ok

Roy: But it’s what comes to my mind. Whenever I see a client who begins to underperform, we’re looking at the ads, and we’re looking at the competitors, the strength of the competition, and we’re looking at the strength of their ads and the size of the city, and we’re looking at the money we’re spending, and it doesn’t add up.

Peter: Ummm, yep.

Roy: Something is wrong.

Peter: Yep.

Roy: This client should be doing better than they’re doing. Do you know it’s never been longer than 11 months before I found out there was a divorce in the brewing.

Peter: Interesting.

Roy: And I say, whenever a person’s eye has been distracted from their goal, they’re no longer acting like a wiener dog. They’re no longer doing the thing that you know you can count on them to do. Now all of the sudden their gaze has been turned, and they never, ever, ever believe that they are performing differently than they have in the past. They believe that this is completely hidden from the rest of the world. They believe that they have it under control.

But I’ve told my partners before, whenever you see a client doing something… and what they’re doing and what the outcome is, and what you’re doing and what the outcome is don’t add up… they’re underperforming and there is no explanation. You’ll be tearing your hair out trying to figure out why the wiener dog isn’t being a wiener dog. You’ll say, “This is a wiener dog. Why isn’t it acting more like a wiener dog?” When there’s trouble at home, and this is the thing, Peter. Identity. Who am I? Purpose, why am I here? Adventure, what must I overcome? Identity, purpose and adventure are the only 3 things that I believe any person ever has.

Peter: A wiener dog race has all of those.

Roy: And when you say, “I am what and who I am. I must do the thing that I do. I cannot be other.”

Peter: Umm hmmm.

Roy: And when you have that, and you invest in that, and when you believe in that, it works out. You can turn your back on a wiener dog, and it will continue being a wiener dog. You know why? It’s NOT PRETENDING to be a wiener dog! It really IS a wiener dog! And then when you’re saying, “I’m a surprising thing that performs my heart out, and you love me because I’m lovable.”

Peter: Right.

Roy: It always works.

Peter: Right right right right right. So it’s the owner. I mean the wiener dog will always be the wiener dog. But the owner of the wiener dog… is the thing… it’s almost their response is just as important. Their response to how their wiener dog performs in that pressure situation is almost just as…

Roy: In this metaphor I’m saying the business owner is the wiener dog.

Peter: Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

Roy: There is no owner of the wiener dog.

Peter: Alright, alright.

Roy: There is no owner of the wiener dog. The business owner is either the wiener dog or he’s not. The business wiener dog is either a wiener dog who’s distracted…

Peter: Yeah, but for a marketing consultant the business owner is the wiener dog. For a business owner the wiener dog is the offer. No?

Roy: You and I have had two different metaphors this whole entire conversation. Because I’m saying the business owner is the wiener dog. I don’t trust the offer.

Peter: Hmm.

Roy: See, listen. This is the thing. I don’t believe that good marketing will save a bad business.

Peter: Right.

Roy: If you’re not a wiener dog, the best marketing in the world won’t save you. The best marketing in the world can’t save the precision lawn chair drill team.

Peter: That’s right.

Roy: The best marketing in the world can’t save, umm, riding lawnmower races.

Peter: Right right right right.

Roy: But you can trust a wiener dog to continue being a wiener dog. And I’m saying the wiener dog isn’t the offer. The wiener dog is the business owner.

Peter: It’s the owner.

Roy: And I’m saying I don’t believe in the offer. I believe in the business owner.

Peter: Hmmmm.

Roy: And I’m saying we can create an offer. I don’t need the offer to be unchanging. I need the business owner to be unchanging.

Peter: Good.

Roy: And so when the business owner has got his eye off the prize, when the business owner is distracted, he can hide that for almost a year. He can never hide it for a full year.

Peter: That’s right. ok.

Roy: And you say, “when you finally realize things aren’t working the way they should, the business consultant, the ad writer is confused and frustrated and begins to have doubts until he finds out, oh, there’s trouble at home…”

Peter: Right.

Roy: …because the identity has been eroded…

Peter: Right.

Roy: …the purpose has been eroded. The adventure has been eroded.

Peter: Hmm.

Roy: Identity, purpose and adventure.

Who am I? That’s my identity.

Why am I here? That’s my purpose.

And what must I overcome? That’s my adventure.

And everybody if you’re alive and if it matters to you that you’re alive, you have an identity, you have a purpose, and you have an adventure. And if you lack any of those 3 things you feel lost.

Peter: Yeah. I mean just thinking about if a wiener dog gets in a race… and suddenly they stop… they can’t hear their master’s voice… they can’t see their master… they have no idea what’s happening…

Roy: They’ve lost their vision.

Peter: …they’re not going to win.

Roy: They’re distracted. They’re not sure what’s happening. They’re confused.

Peter: They’ve lost their identity. They’ve lost their purpose. They’ve lost their adventure.

Roy: And what I’m saying is, anytime you have somebody whose identity is intact, their purpose is intact, and their adventure is intact, you have to decide, “am I willing to bet on this wiener dog?”

Peter: Hmmm.

Roy: If I say, “I believe this wiener dog is a full-blooded wiener dog. This is a red-blooded wiener dog who’s going to run its heart out. And I don’t have to convince it to run its heart out. This wiener dog is going to run its heart out whether I’m here or not. This is a heart running wiener dog. This is a wiener dog that’s absolutely all in. It’s going to give it everything.”

Peter: It’s a wiener among wieners.

Roy: Yes. Now I say, because the wiener dog can be trusted to continue to be a wiener dog, I’ll gamble on this wiener dog, because I don’t have to change it. I just have to believe that it’s going to continue to be what it already is.

Peter: Right.

Roy: And if I can’t trust it to be what it already is, I’m out.

Peter: It might lose a race.

Roy: Of course.

Peter: It might lose two races.

Roy: There might be a wiener dog even more committed.

Peter: Hmm.

Roy: There might even be more of a wiener dog than this wiener dog.

Peter: But over time this wiener dog’s gonna figure out how to win.

Roy: It will, it will, it will make money, it will win, it will succeed, it will continue to be a wiener dog. What I’m saying is you can’t keep a wiener dog from being a wiener dog if it knows it’s a wiener dog, and it wants to be a wiener dog and it enjoys being a wiener dog.

Peter: Right, right, right.

Roy: …and so the identity, the purpose and the adventure remain. And if you’re going to gamble as an advertising consultant, you gamble on what you know cannot be other than what it is.

Peter: I think what you just said is really important. Most marketing people are looking for an offer. They’re looking for a unique selling proposition. What you just said that sets you apart from other marketing people is you’re not necessarily looking for an offer or a unique selling proposition. You are looking for a person who has commitment, who has drive, who has adventure, who will not stop, who’s going to make it whether you’re there or not, and if you partner with them you’re going to take them to places they’ve never been before, and you’re going to do it together.

Roy: Offers can easily be imitated.

Peter: They come and they go.

Roy: Offers can easily be imitated. It’s never about the offer. Offers can be imitated. Offers matter, but identities matter more than offers.

Peter: Identities matter more than offers.

Roy: Identities matter more than offers.

Peter: Who are you? What are your core values?

Roy: Who will you continue to be when I turn my back?

Peter: That’s right. What will people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Roy: Yes, that’s exactly right. Then you say, “so here we are, identity and purpose, why are you going through the trouble? Cause if I’m the customer, I want to know… Can I count on you to continue being who you are even when I can’t make you do that?”

Peter: Because really it’s about relationships. It’s not about a transaction…

Roy: It is.

Peter: “…it’s about relationships, and if a good business is going to be a good business they’ve got to communicate, “you can trust me to have a good relationship with you whether or not the offer changes.”

Roy: If I can be trusted, I can be trusted regardless of who you choose to be.

Peter: That’s right.

Roy: If I can be trusted, I can always continue to be trusted, because I will not change regardless of who you choose to be.

Peter: That’s right.

Roy: I will not change. So identity, purpose and adventure. The adventure is… what problem must I overcome?

Peter: Right.

Roy: That’s the adventure. What problem must I overcome..

Peter: And this is why when McDonald’s started offering healthy meal plans instead of saying, “we’ve got some cheap burgers that taste really good, maybe a milkshake and some fries. That’s all we got.” And we start trying to become everything to everybody, now we can’t trust them anymore to be what we thought they were going to be. They’re a wiener dog trying to be a German Shepherd or something other than what we thought they were.

Roy: What happens is, whenever you say, “I know who this is. I know why they’re that way. I know who they are, and I know why they’re that way.” Now you can trust them.

Peter: Right.

Roy: And when you say, “Yes, this isn’t going to change. I know why they’re like that. I know what made them that way, and I know who they are.”

Peter: Right right.

Roy: And then you say, “They’re going to continue being that. They’re going to continue being that no matter what I do. Therefore I believe in them.”

The Breakdown

Most of us don’t consider ourselves in the equation of success. We look at our service, our products, our systems, our people, our innovative solutions. But the heart of every business starts with one person who commits to an identity, purpose and adventure for the sake of serving others. When those things are aligned with the execution and operation of your entire business, you can’t help but succeed. Roy and I aren’t saying there won’t be bumps in the road. We’re saying that despite the bumps, a true wiener dog will find a way to get to its master on the other side of the finish line. And everyone watching will be absolutely delighted.

But if you cover up the thing that makes you imperfect… if you try to add something more than who you actually are… if you get wounded, distracted or prevented from being the person everyone knows you to be, you will erode the trust of the people that started you on the road to success in the first place. It never happens immediately. But once that momentum’s lost, it’s hard to regain.

I have a client who was growing like crazy when he hired me, like from $7 million to $12 million in one year. I liked the guy, believed in him, knew he was a wiener dog deep down in his heart. But something was off. And as we started working with him it began to show. All the growth they had been experiencing started to plateau and then decline. I discovered that his marriage and family had blown up. It took about 2 years for his business to recover the momentum they had lost.

In those times you need people who believe in you more than you believe in yourself to help pick you up, to remind you of who you are, what your purpose is and that you can overcome the obstacles in front of you. Maybe that’s a marketing consultant. Maybe that’s your family. Maybe that’s God. Whoever it is, you need to be able to count on them to have your back, no matter how screwed up you get.

I resolved to stand by my client and tell it to him straight as he went through the tough times. I wasn’t the only one that helped to be an encouragement in that time. And he had to make some decisions on his own, get back in the saddle, stop waiting for someone to rescue him. Now they’re back on track, headed for $20 million dollars this year having grown last year by 40% and this year on pace for another 20%+ growth.

It’s maybe the most important thing you’ll read in this book, because it affects everything. So let’s do a little work on you right now.

1. What’s your identity? Write down the person you are, how you treat others, the core values by which you stand. I’m not talking about generic commitments to “the highest standards, excellence” and crap like that. I’m talking about where you came from, what you will always do, what you will never do.

Ex: I cannot work with people who don’t get things done on time.

Ex 2: I will always tell the truth, even if it kills me.

Ex 3: People deserve to be comfortable in their home, day or night, and whatever I have to do to deliver service to families at any time their need arises, I will do.

2. What’s Your Purpose? What is it you’re trying to achieve? How will you impact the world? Make it very specific.

3. What’s Your Adventure? What problem must you overcome? What are the obstacles that stand in your way? What has no one ever been able to solve that you are going to solve?

Wiener Dog Marketing:

A Silly Sounding Book for Serious Business Growth

available now on Kindle, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and many other digital sellers…

available June 1st in Hardcover at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many others…

Read the rest of the series:

  1. An Introduction to Wiener Dog Marketing
  2. Wiener Dog Marketing: For the Love of Wiener Dogs
  3. Body of a Sausage: The Way Things Are vs. The Way Things Ought to Be
  4. The Wiener Dog Question: What Can You Count On Not Changing?
  5. Wiener Dog Focus: Helping the Customer vs. Helping Yourself
  6. Wiener Dogs on the Wrong Track: Having the Qualities of Success Without Being a Success
  7. Embrace Your Wiener Dog: Identity, Purpose and Adventure
  8. Becoming a Wiener Dog: What it Takes to Have Enduring Success
  9. Magical Wiener Dogs and Storytellers
  10. Follow the Wiener Dog: How Employees Become Wiener Dogs
  11. Once a Wiener… Repurposing the Proven
  12. The Heart of a Wiener Dog: Character Diamonds
  13. Wiener Dogs Forever: The Power of Crowd Promotion
  14. Are You A Wiener Dog? Last Chance to Commit