A couple of years after 9/11, Spread Networks laid a fibre optic network connecting The Chicago Mercantile Exchange to Nasdaq data center in Carteret, New Jersey.
The goal was to create a straight line.
High frequency traders wanted information faster than the market.
A round trip from New Jersey to Chicago could be made in under 15 milliseconds.
A blink of an eye takes 400 milliseconds.
Dan Spivey’s planned route had to be as straight as possible.
Going around mountains added a few nanoseconds (a billionth of a second).
It cost them $300 million to lay the foundation.
They then leased it to select Wall street clients for $20 million per month.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
The rollercoaster jungle of business, the goal is to get ahead of your competitors. To get more customers, serve them well and grow your empire.
Place two points on a piece of paper.
Mark the first point with the caption, “Where we are”.
On the second point, write, “Where we want to be”.
Anyone worth their salt can tell you the steps you need to do to get “Where you want to be”.
The problem isn’t identifying the steps.
The issue is what to do when a mountain gets in your way.
Do you simply go around the mountain?
Or do you blast through it, maintaining your straight line?
Your competitive advantage is not your product.
It’s not your location.
It’s not even your staff. Although I’m sure some of them are quite irreplaceable.
Your competitive advantage is your ability to draw lines where no one else has thought to draw them.
Your advertising works very much the same way.
Doing it like everyone else gets what everyone else has.
To quote Apple’s slogan from 1998, “Think Different”.
Twenty three years ago, my boss gave me a cassette tape to listen to.
On it, Roy H. Williams gave a speech on something about radio advertising.
I wish I could tell you what he said, but I can’t.
I just remembered his name.
A few years later, a colleague told me about a Wizard Academy in Texas. She went and laughed about how she was now a Wizard. It was founded by Roy H. Williams.
Before YouTube, Google was still a baby, Roy’s name comes up on my radar.
I decided to read his Wizard of Ads Trilogy.
Then I saw it, in plain sight through the jungle.
He was drawing straight lines.
He made advertising simple.
It’s like heart surgery. It’s simple if you know what you’re doing, but deadly if you don’t.
Your business is built on straight lines.
Your advertising must be as well.
The zigzagging of message and strategy only serves to confuse.
We don’t run in a straight line when we’re confused.
Neither do your customers.
Your advertising success isn’t dependent on milliseconds like Spread Networks.
However, time is still a factor.
At this moment, someone is trying to draw straighter lines than you.
They want what you have.
Are you gonna let ‘em have it?
Or are you gonna show them there’s still bite left in the dog?