Why do we keep doing more of the same things? Is it because they are familiar and easy? Is it because we are lazy? Or are we scared that if we try something new it might not work and we will look foolish? Perhaps we need a reminder that creative and different approaches sometimes work really well. I have been rereading Do Something Different by Jurgen Wolff. It contains many stories which are examples of how a radical approach paid dividends. Here are three:
Two young men, Paul Gaye and Steve Reeves, wanted to get jobs in London advertising agencies but in a time of recession there were few opportunities and the boys had no experience. So they sent an identical letter to the creative directors of all the major London agencies (who all happened to be men). The letter was on pink perfumed paper and it said, ‘Dear [Name of Director], You may not remember me but we had a passionate night together 23 years ago. The result was twin boys, Steve and Paul. A photo is enclosed. They are trying to get into advertising and I hear you are good at that.’
Every director except one replied and several wanted to meet the young men. One gave them both a job and put the framed letter on his wall as an example of provocative copy writing. Gaye and Reeves used a highly unusual approach. When most unsolicited applications are rejected before reaching the decision maker, a hand-written pink envelope marked personal got past the gatekeeper and piqued attention.
The writer David Peterson wanted to pitch an idea for a movie to Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of Disney Studios most senior and busiest executives. Peterson did some research and found that Katzenberg arrived at the Disney campus very early and that it took him just under a minute to drive from the security gate to his office. Peterson got to the Studio at four in the morning and gave the security guard a package to give to Katzenberg. All Disney staff had been told not to accept scripts (which should be submitted only by approved agents). However this did not look like a script so the guard took it and gave it Katzenberg when he stopped at the gate. The package was an audio CD with a note saying ‘If you can spare 47 seconds you might be interested in this.’ With his curiosity aroused he played it and found it contained a professionally produced radio trailer for a ‘Flyers’, a movie about women pilots in WW2. It had dialogue, sound effects and voice-over narration. Three days later Katzenberg contacted Peterson and asked to see the full script.
Jim Kirchmeier, the owner of Classic Driving School, wanted to make his school stand out and attract teenage learner drivers. He bought a small fleet of Porsche 944 cars for his instructors and pupils to use. His driving school became a big success and after one year he doubled the number Porsches. He said, ‘This is every kid’s dream car.’ Kirchmeier transformed a mundane experience into something prestigious and impressive. Customers flocked in.
The theme of the book is this – If you carry on doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll carry on getting the same results. If you want more business you had better do something different. The book contains 100 mini case studies which are sure to inspire you to do some lateral thinking with your sales, marketing and approach to business.