The following is the 4th 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 3.
Peter: Ok, there are a couple questions, that I think people who are detailed types, who want a step-by-step thing, are gonna ask. Number one, how do you know when your wiener dog has run its course, and it’s time to pick something else? When comes the end of the wiener dog races? Do they ever end? Or do you just need to find greater commitment to them?
Roy: Is there a time when the taste of the public has changed so much, that the thing that they loved yesterday is no longer the thing that they love?
Peter: Say, lava lamps.
Roy: Here’s the thing. So Jeff Bezos… if you read the things that he acknowledges made him successful… Jeff Bezos said it’s really very simple. Will people ever say, “I wish I’d paid a higher price for this?”
Peter: Probably not.
Roy: Will people ever say… see here’s the context: Jeff Bezos said, “People are asking me, constantly. Constantly they’re asking me what is about to change?” And he said, “these people are asking the wrong question.” He said, “the right question is, what will never change?”
Peter: What will never change? Henry Ford: “at what price could I produce a car that everyone will be able to afford?”
Roy: And Jeff Bezos took that to an even higher level. What are the things that will never ever change? And he said, “no one will ever say, I wish I had paid more for this. No one will ever say, I wish it had taken longer for this to get here. No one will ever say, I wish it was harder for me to buy this.” He said, “making it astoundingly breathtakingly easy to buy…” Do you realize, Amazon.com owns the patent for 1-click ordering. The only company who’s ever licensed that patent is Apple.
Roy: Apple Computers.
Roy: The reason nobody has it but Amazon is because they, have, the patent. And then you say, so effortless ordering. You find it, click, it’ll be here tomorrow.
Roy: And then you say, “do I wish it had taken longer? No. I’m glad it’s here quickly. Do I wish it had cost more? No, I’m glad I got it at a great price.
Peter: I wish wiener dogs were slower.
Roy: No one’s ever going to say they wish wiener dogs were slower.
Peter: I wish wiener dogs were not funny.
Roy: Nobody’s ever going to say, I wish wiener dogs weren’t funny.
Peter: I wish wiener dogs could be easily controlled.
Roy: Nobody’s ever going to say that, because wiener dogs are unpredictable and that’s what makes them hysterical.
Peter: There are some people who say that.
Roy: But they’re idiots. These are the people who said Amazon.com would never work, and Jeff Bezos is an idiot, and he’s never gonna make money.
Peter: These are the people who tried to copy Facebook.
Roy: Yes. And you say, “you know what, Jeff Bezos was a visionary who said, I’m willing to play the long game. I’m willing to lose money in the short term so that I can become the richest man in the world.”
Peter: Talk to me about that. How, I mean, you just said something there about commitment. You may have a wiener dog that is going to produce long term riches, 3M’s post it notes, silly putty. All those ideas took 12 years to bring to market before they took off. Before that you were just a loser trying to peddle your little trinket in a bar while sipping beer from a glass and looking like a really big loser, right? Jeff Bezos was willing to risk it all. How do you know that it’s going to be a wiener dog idea, and it’s not going to be a lawn chair drill team? When times are tough and you have to spend some money, you have to risk some reputation to say, “I know this is going to be big,” and everyone’s going, “yeah, prove it loser”?
Roy: Here’s really the test. And this takes the courage of your convictions. Very few people have the courage of their convictions. Most people will run their mouth. But they always know down deep that their alligator mouth is in serious danger of overloading their mockingbird ass.
Peter: I feel like that all the time. Check out my feathers…
Roy: They can’t deliver what they’re promising. They cannot swing the hammer. Whenever you say, “Ok, If I’m actually looking at… is this a gamble… should I bet the farm on this bet? Am I gambling that things will suddenly become as they ought to be, or am I gambling on the way things remaining as they already are?” If I’m gambling on things remaining as they already are, they’re already like this…
Peter: Pretty good bet.
Roy: Well, listen. Most people… just so you’ll know, most people have something stuck up their ass, and they’re betting on their life that by gosh the rest of the world is going to figure out the way it ought to be. Every terrorist, every nut job that kills a bunch of people randomly, they believe that somehow their effort, their spectacle is going to make people understand the way it ought to be.
Roy: Nobody ever changes. They say that was a nut.
Roy: Let’s kill him. Let’s eliminate him from the world, because he’s too stupid and evil to live. The only good gamble is to gamble that people are going to continue being who they’ve always been. Now, Peter, I was gambling that the wiener dog was going to continue being a wiener dog. The wiener dog was going to continue having short legs and a big heart…
Roy: …and run its crazy, ridiculous, little ass off to reach its owner on the other side of the fifty yard dash, saying, “please come, come, come, hurry, get here as quick as you can.”
Roy: Now listen, can you count on a wiener dog continuing to be a wiener dog? Of course you can. Can you count on the owner continuing to beg the wiener dog to come? Of course you can. Now if you’re counting on things to suddenly become different than they’ve always been, that’s a fool’s bet.
Peter: You’re in dreamland.
Roy: You’re a fool.
Roy: And I’m saying, “listen, nobody’s ever been interested in riding lawnmowers. Nobody’s ever been interested in precision lawn chair drill teams.”
Roy: But people have always been interested in people pretending that they could sing well that couldn’t sing.
Roy: They’ve always been interested in short legged dogs being able to run. In other words the thing that is a farce. It’s absurd. The absurdity, the comedy, the absolutely indescribable absurdity of this thing.
Peter: I can play you so many ads of my clients singing their hearts out on radio when they have no business attempting to sing. It’s hard to even tell that they’re actually singing on the radio…
Roy: …cause they’re so bad.
Peter: …they’re so bad. But something about that causes people to say, “I like that guy.”
Roy: I like the guy. He’s a good guy.
Peter: He’s a wiener dog. I love wiener dogs!
Roy: And then what happens is, when you say, “ok, I’m gonna gamble on things remaining the way they’ve always been. People have always done this. People aren’t going to change. They’re not going to suddenly come to their senses and realize, “Oh, I should have voted for the other candidate.”
Peter: So your big business idea doesn’t have to be a flashy one?
Roy: Listen, the big business idea is, let’s look at Jeff Bezos. I’m going to count on people continuing…
Peter: …to want to pay less.
Roy: ..to want to save time.
Peter: and want to save time, right.
What can you count on never changing? Amazon built an empire that politicians fear by simply dedicating themselves to enabling you to get the items you want easier, faster and for less money. That’s no creative marketing strategy. Its commitment to executing better than anyone else. And you have to be committed to that yourself if you’re going to work at Amazon. As a marketer, all I would have to do is find creative ways to say that same thing over and over and over. Heck, it’s so powerful, you don’t really even need marketing for that idea to grow. People will always want it easier, faster and for less money.
Now easier, faster and less money sound so simplistic. Let’s say you’re a janitorial franchise that cleans offices. What will people always want from you? If you’ve ever worked in an office you know that you just want the cleaners to show up, actually get your office and the bathrooms clean and not take anything. If you can do that for people and train your team of employees to be committed to doing that for people, you will win all day, every day and do a little happy dance as money collects in your bank account.
1. What are the things that the public will always want from your business? Write them down…
You still need courage and conviction. Just because you know it will be a success, doesn’t mean that it will instantly be a success. The idea of a viral success is so appealing because it seemingly takes no effort. But I challenge you to look a little closer at all the viral successes out there. Once they became famous how successful were they at maintaining the public’s attention? How many hours did they put into honing their craft before the one video/song/meme/picture they created went viral? Johnny Carson asked Willie Nelson how it felt to be an overnight success. He said, “feels great after playing 10 years in honky tonks behind chicken wire.”
The good news is that you can decide right now to hang in there. Don’t give up when things get tough. What do you need to stick it out no matter what? How simply can you live? What are you going to say to yourself to motivate yourself when the going gets tough? Who’s with you that can encourage you?
2. Think about the answers to those questions and write them down now. You can remind yourself how important it is to continue when you feel like quitting…