Time is an overlooked competitive advantage

In the early days, Amazon was unprofitable.

They went public with meager profits.

Then, they were publicly ridiculed for not pushing more for profitability.

But, they ignored their critics and continued to play their own game.

The long game.

It wasn’t that Amazon couldn’t be profitable. They were willing to have profitable quarters when they needed to.

They chose to be unprofitable.

For long periods of time.

The biggest reason is their perspective was different.

Most companies will invest for a year and consider that long term.

Amazon invests in 10 years and considers that long term.

Which is why they seemingly had profitability issues on a quarterly basis.

But, as history would have it, when a company invests in 10 years while everyone else is investing in a quarter or 1 year, you win.

Amazon clearly has.

Time is a competitive advantage. Amazon knew this and their long-term investment horizon was strategic.

They beat out competitors.

They did it with free shipping. Hugely unprofitable in the short term.

Then, they did it with two-day shipping. Unprofitable in the short term.

Again, they did it with Prime. Profitability not a concern.

Years later, free, two-day shipping is a consumer expectation. They figured out how to win with it.

Now, all their competitors struggle with this expectation.

If Amazon had only looked at a 1-year return on any of these investments, they probably never would have continued. But, a 10-year investment makes them all work.

The only way you benefit from compound interest, is allowing time to do its thing.

Compound.

Your organizations culture matters

If you went to an Oakland A’s game in the mid-2010s, when Coco Crisp came up to bat you would be doing the Bernie Lean.

You and everyone else in the stadium.

Then, if the A’s were down in the bottom of the 9th, you would be waiting for the walk-off. The A’s would bat last, make a comeback, and win the game.

They won so many games this way, it was a known thing throughout the league. It made other teams nervous.

The player who hit the walk-off would get a pie to the face during their post-game interview.

The A’s have not won a World Series since the 80s. And, they continually trade away the players you love, creating what may seem to a non-fan like a revolving door.

What the A’s do have is culture.

That culture, whether you’re a fan or a player, is what bonds the organization.

You would think that players coming to the A’s, knowing a World Series is a long shot and the likelihood of being traded is high, would create a toxic environment.

You would think fans are dissatisfied with their team.

What you find though, is the A’s culture is so strong, the players seemingly have a blast and the small but loyal fan base shows up in roughly the same numbers whether the A’s are winning or losing.

The A’s culture is things like:

The Bernie Lean.

Pies to the face after a walk-off.

It’s knowing you’re the underdogs, with one of the lowest budgets in baseball, yet you still make it to the playoffs.

It’s knowing your team changed the way baseball is played.

These are things that make the A’s culture work.

Culture is important. It’s likely more important than you think.

When times are tough. When difficult decisions are made. When the odds are stacked against you.

The culture an organization has built might be the only thing that holds it together.

The A’s may not have much, but at least they have culture.

Where does your product fit in your customers day?

If you go in for laparoscopic surgery, you get holes in your stomach.

Four to five small incisions where a doctor will place tubes. These tubes allow her to insert her tools for work.

Then, she’ll blow up your stomach with gas to give her room to work. Lastly, she’ll place a camera in there to see what she’s working on.

After this prep work is done, she performs the surgery. It can last anywhere from thirty minutes to hours. It all depends on what needs to be done.

Once the surgery is complete, she begins to stitch up your stomach. Closing those holes properly is important. If she doesn’t close them right, you can get a hernia during recovery.

In order to close those holes properly, some doctors will use a specific tool.

That was the tool I sold.

It was used for a minute or two at the end of a surgery.

While important, the tool didn’t really take up that much of the doctor’s attention.

It was my job to make that one to two minutes seem important enough to think about using my specific tool.

The reality is, your product probably only plays a small part in something bigger.

Just like the tool I sold for the end of surgery.

If your product plays a small part, your customer will probably only give you a small piece of their attention.

As marketers, it’s good to know where we fit. Chances are, you are not the most important thing in that customers day.

We can’t market to customers like we are.

While the work we do is important, there are other important things as well.

Just like in that surgery, closing up a patient is important. But, the doctor is also concerned with removing the problem area that was the reason for the surgery in the first place.

My tool was not more important than that.

Consistently showing up like Sammy Hagar

My first concert was at the Concord Pavilion to see Sammy Hagar.

I probably saw him almost every year for 10 years after that.

If you haven’t followed his career, which it’s likely you haven’t, he’s played in many different bands and worked on many different projects.

Some of his bands and projects include:

  • Montrose
  • Sammy Hagar
  • Van Halen
  • A Mountain Bike Shop
  • Cabo Wabo Cantina
  • Cabo Wabo Tequila
  • Sammy Hagar and the Wabos
  • Chickenfoot
  • Sammy Hagar Beach Bar Rum, the rum
  • Sammy Hagar Beach Bar Rum, the restaurant
  • The Circle
  • Rock and Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar
  • Sammy Hagar’s Top Rock Countdown

These are just the projects I know about, which I’m sure I’ve missed some.

I’ve tried to put this list in roughly chronological order. I find two things interesting about this list.

First, he joined Van Halen – third on the list – at 38. This is basically ancient in rock and roll.

Second, the sheer volume of projects he started and was involved in after that.

While his early music career probably got him the contacts and money to do some of his later projects, the fact is he did them.

They didn’t get him on a 30 under 30 list, because he was well into his 40s by the time he started them.

He’s the kind of hustler that consistently does work over the long term.

Through his 40s, 50s, 60s, and now into his 70s, he’s continuing to do projects.

While not at the scale of the largest rock band in the world – Van Halen in the early 90s – they are projects I’m sure he’s proud of.

Like Sammy Hagar, good things can come from consistently showing up and doing our work over the long term.

How do you send an email in Germany?

Get to the point in the first line.

That’s how you format an email in Germany.

At least, according to my friend.

Not sure how it started, but my friend and I got onto the topic of email communication differences between the Americans and the Germans.

The difference is American emails begin with pleasantries and background. Then, you get to the point and your ask at the end.

German emails require your point be in line 1.

This cultural norm, while seemingly small on the surface, might have a big impact in how we communicate.

For me, I realized this might be a key reason why my email marketing campaigns were not performing as well in the European market.

It’s the translation vs. localization debate. Even if you speak the same language.

It’s easier than ever to take your company global. Thus, we’ll run into these situations more often.

Instinctively, we know these nuances matter.

But, it’s good to remind ourselves there are differences. Large and small.

And that’s ok.

We should acknowledge them. Make the necessary changes, even if we don’t agree with the difference.

Who knows, it could be why your marketing campaign is underperforming.