The following is the 5th 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 4.
Roy: Here’s the problem. So here’s this book I’m looking for. If I drive to the biggest book store in the city. I drive across town. I find a parking place. I walk inside. I look around. I try to find some help. I finally get someone to help me. And then they tell me, “No, we don’t have that, but we can order it for you.”
Roy And it’s like, “You know what, instead of driving across town, if I go to the biggest book store in the world online and click it, they’ll have it to me in forty eight hours. They’ll have it to me the day after tomorrow.
Peter: And if they have some reviews from a bunch of other people like myself that I sort of trust who give not only good but bad reviews, then I can evaluate, do I really believe in this book?
Roy: Do I even want it? Do I even want this book?
Peter: Yeah, yeah, yeah, do I even want it? Yeah, right, right, right.
Roy: So what happens, as Jeff Bezos said, “We’re not going to help people sell their product…
Roy: … we’re going to help the customer find what they want. Now, that’s a pretty safe bet.
Roy: Will the customer continue to want what they want? Yep. Will the customer value somebody helping them find what they want?
Roy: Yes. So he says, “I’m betting on a sure thing. Jeff Bezos has never gambled. Jeff Bezos has never taken a risk. He says, the richest man in the world, out of nowhere! He says…
Peter: He’s really good-looking.
Roy: … “I’m going to continue to believe that people are going to continue to be the way they’ve always been.” And he said, “I think people are going to want a bigger selection…”
Roy: “…faster delivery, and better prices, and better, more transparent, more honest reviews, so they have more information before they make up their mind.” And here’s where he separated himself from tradition. He said, “I’m on the side of the customer, not the seller.”
Roy: “I’m not here to help the seller sell their product. Screw the seller.”
Peter: Oh yeah, he shows that. He goes and pushes the sellers out of business. He’ll reproduce their products cheaper.
Roy: If the seller isn’t doing a service to the customer, burn the seller to the ground.
Roy: Let the customer burn the seller to the ground. Let the reviews burn the seller to the ground. I’ll help you burn the seller to the ground. But if the seller is doing a service to the customer, I will champion them. I will help you champion them. I will help you sing their praises. I will help you sell their product. And it’s kind of like, you know, his commitment was never to the seller. His commitment was to the customer. And because his commitment was to the customer, and because he never blinked, people said, “Oh, I like that guy. He’s on my side.”
Peter: Umm hmm.
Roy: And because he got all the customers believing in him, the sellers had to get in line. If you want to sell your product, you have to do what he says because he has the customers on his side. Here’s the thing. This is what’s interesting. Whenever you say, “Jeff Bezos, what was his real role?” He recognized a wiener dog when he saw it.
Roy: Jeff Bezos said, “These people are wiener dogs. They already have something that everybody wants. But they don’t even know it’s there.”
Roy: “If I just bring it to their attention that this thing exists, they’ll immediately flock to it. They’ll think that’s the coolest thing ever.”
Roy: He knew the difference. Jeff Bezos knew the difference between a wiener dog, no, no, no, maybe he didn’t. He knew the public would recognize the difference…
Roy: …between a wiener dog and precision lawn chair drill teams.
Peter: Right, right right right.
Roy: He knew the public would determine the difference between a wiener dog and lawnmower races.
Peter: Why couldn’t the Buda Lions Club recognize the difference between a wiener dog, jet-powered lawnmower races, and folding chair precision drill teams?
Roy: Because everybody who breathes air, every normal human being who’s never lost many tens of millions of dollars of other people’s money in many bad advertising schemes
Peter: (laughing) is that… is that you?
Roy: Absolutely. Hundreds of millions.
Peter: Yes. Ok.
Roy: I have a very expensive education. I lost hundreds of millions of dollars of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.
Peter: I’ve lost a smaller amount because of you, but I’ve still lost quite a bit of other people’s money as well.
Roy: And you say, “You know what? Ultimately…” and by the way, we still did better than the average ad guy.
Peter: Yeah, right.
Roy: The average ad guy doesn’t even realize he’s doing a horrible thing.
Peter: Right, right, right.
Roy: So here’s my point. Whenever you say, “Jeff Bezos said, I’m gonna identify the wiener dogs, and the things that aren’t wiener dogs are going to identify themselves. In other words, the precision lawn chair drill teams and the riding lawnmower races are going to identify themselves because nobody cares, no one is interested, and no one is going to buy it. No one is going to show up.
Roy: And after a while, when you begin to recognize the thing that people actually will respond to, it gets easier. Every time you recognize a wiener dog, it gets easier to spot the next wiener dog.
Roy: The thing we need to teach people, Peter, is this: it’s not like you suddenly have this magical ability to spot the wiener dog. No, no, no, no. You suspect maybe this is a wiener dog, and you take a chance. Turns out you were right.
Roy: And the next time you get a slightly higher ability to recognize a wiener dog…
Roy: …and you take a chance, and you’re right. (smiling very big)
Peter: You feel like that’s what happened with you?
Roy: Absolutely. In other words, it didn’t happen in a moment. It happened over years. Now, whenever you say… now, this is one of my pet peeves, Peter.
Peter: That’s ok.
Roy: I say in the West. In the United States, in the western hemisphere, we believe if an expert would explain to us in detail…
Roy: …how to do something expertly…
Peter: Absolutely, right.
Roy: Then we could do it.
Peter: Then we could do it.
Roy: But the truth is, that’s not true. It’s never been true.
Peter: It’s not true.
Roy: Even when a person… even when an expert explains to you how to do something expertly… you still have to go out and test your own judgment.
Roy: You have to test your theory. You have to test your belief. And you’ll be wrong more often than you’re right.
Peter: Well, you have to execute in the face of pressure and all these environmental surroundings and your emotions, which are churning inside you, because you’ve never done this thing before. A wiener dog is something you’ve never invested in. And you don’t know how it’s gonna turn out.
Roy: It gets easier…
Peter: And so the Buda Lions Club is going, “CRAP, these three could seemingly all be good!”
Roy: It gets easier every time you do it.
Peter: Somebody outside of all that pressure… “We’ve gotta sell sponsorships! We’ve gotta fund the Buda Lions Club! We’ve gotta get people to come and attend the Buda Lions Club thing for Buda! We’ve got all that pressure! We’ve gotta go and find these people. We just happen to stumble upon this guy named Roy Williams, and he’s got money! I don’t really care if he helps us actually make this thing big, but if he could give me some money… to keep the Buda Lions club going… we could do so many good things for the children!”
Roy: And here’s the thing that…
Peter: I love the…
Roy: Here’s the tough…
Peter: …the little children.
Roy: This is the tough love. This is the tough love.
Peter: I wanna hug you, Roy. (laughing)
Roy: The person who loves you best is the person who says, “if you need to buy a friend, buy a dog.”
Peter: A wiener dog!
Roy: Any dog. The person who loves you best is the person who says, “hey, listen, I’m not affected by your emotion. I’m not affected by your guilt trip…”
Roy: “… I’m not affected in the slightest by your emotional appeal. You don’t have the ingredients. You don’t have what it takes. And no matter how much I want you to have what it takes, my wanting and you having are two different things.”
Roy: And so, my wanting it for you, and you wanting it for you doesn’t matter. Whether or not you have it is what matters. And so, my emotions and your emotions mean nothing.
Roy: The truth is, do you have it, or do you not have it. Are you something that will captivate the public’s imagination? Or are you something that will not captivate the public’s imagination? I didn’t say, “should you captivate… should they trust you… should they believe in you? If it was a better world, would they get behind you?” Of course they would. But it’s not a better world. It’s this world.
Roy: And will they? And you have to have the cold, cold, cold perception of the truth of what is. Be for what is. Be for what is. Wiener dogs are already funny. Wiener dog racing is already funny. I don’t have to make it funny. It’s not that it should be funny. I’m sorry. It IS FUNNY!
Peter: (laughing) that’s right.
Roy: It’s funny whether I want it to be or not.
Peter: Right, right.
Roy: And so precision lawn chair drill teams is like, that’s like the answer to a question no one was asking.
Peter: They have to be good. I mean, with lawn chairs. Good luck.
Roy: Riding lawnmower races, it’s a song that’s already been sung.
Are you on your customers’ side or on your own or your retailers’ side? Think of your local DMV (department of motor vehicles)? They serve a ton of people, the main service they provide being a card with your picture and information on it. They’ve been in business for, what is it, 100 years or so now? With all our technological advancements, wouldn’t you expect that they could figure out how to give that plastic driver’s license to you the same day you go in to shoot your picture? Why hasn’t that happened?
They prioritize a different entity over all the people they were created to serve. That entity is the law and, perhaps, government officials. Because they care more about adhering to the law and following the instructions of whoever needs to stay in office, they minimize risk to themselves. They also have no competition. So there’s no incentive to innovate new ways to deliver your documentation as quickly or efficiently as possible. Sounds like what happens to corporations when they get big. Kodak, General Motors, and Motorola come to mind, among others.
1. In what ways do you prioritize your customers over your product and retail providers?
How are you going to practice spotting the wiener dog? Remember, this is not a skill that comes from simply being aware of or understanding the concept. Because it involves your success and your future, your emotions are wound into it. So you have to learn to choose what activity, person, or idea will be a huge success and invest your time, money, or a combination of the two into it working. In short, you need to learn how to cheat at gambling.
I once heard a story about a political advisor who wanted to get better at managing a campaign for his candidate. He thought, “what activity requires me to take risks while knowing some information and not knowing other information?” The answer he came up with was poker. You know what cards you have and what cards are on the table, but you don’t know what’s in your opponents’ hands. So he learned to play poker. But he did it with his own, real money. That was the only way to improve his decision-making and risk-taking under real, emotional pressure.
2. What activity are you going to take to become better at predicting the success of your ideas?
Read the rest of the series:
- An Introduction to Wiener Dog Marketing
- Wiener Dog Marketing: For the Love of Wiener Dogs
- Body of a Sausage: The Way Things Are vs. The Way Things Ought to Be
- The Wiener Dog Question: What Can You Count On Not Changing?
- Wiener Dog Focus: Helping the Customer vs. Helping Yourself
- Wiener Dogs on the Wrong Track: Having the Qualities of Success Without Being a Success
- Embrace Your Wiener Dog: Identity, Purpose and Adventure
- Becoming a Wiener Dog: What it Takes to Have Enduring Success
- Magical Wiener Dogs and Storytellers
- Follow the Wiener Dog: How Employees Become Wiener Dogs
- Once a Wiener… Repurposing the Proven
- The Heart of a Wiener Dog: Character Diamonds
- Wiener Dogs Forever: The Power of Crowd Promotion
- Are You A Wiener Dog? Last Chance to Commit