No need to be extraordinary…

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… when so many businesses fail at ordinary.

Every time you put your energy and resources into looking for the next big thing, you’re neglecting your ability to put those same resources in the current big thing you already have.

Jar of Sin

Here are three things that substitute quite well for game-changing extraordinary:

1. Be helpful. People remember far more the help you give them than the features you build that they’ll probably never use.

2. Be effective. People remember what you get wrong far more than what you get right. If you focus on effective execution, you’ll clear the air enough for them to see what you get right.

3. Be educational. People are, unfortunately, easily duped. That’s good if you’re a stage magician, bad if you’re a competitor of someone who is dishing out the sizzle. If you’re losing ground to someone else’s big sizzle, counteract with education about steak. Teach, share, mentor and you’ll earn the respect and business of people who want something to sink their teeth into.

Looking for the next big thing is important. Trendspotting and being ahead of the curve are important skills. As with all things, however, it’s a question of balance and returns. Look to powerlaw curves and 80/20 rules: I’d bet you that 80% of your current business, your current revenue, your current customers come from stuff you already have that they’d like you to be better at.

Would you rather improve the part of your business that delivers 80% of your revenue or 20% of your revenue?

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6 responses to “No need to be extraordinary…”

  1.  Avatar

    Good points Chris. Take care of your current customers. Pay attention to the ones in hand, rather than the masses in the bush.

    Invoking Pareto’s Law . . . I believe marketing should be 80% focused on current customers and 20% on prospects. Get your core product or service right and add value at every turn.


    ‘The average distance between the brain and the heart is nine inches. What’s Your Purple Goldfish?’

  2. How did the jam turn out?

    In all seriousness. Love the 3 points: Helpful, Effective, Educational. Win x3.

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory

  3. I love how this feeds right into the notion of freemium content and blogging. If most people used your three tips to help mold a decent content strategy, they'd be set! Arbitrage and leverage are certainly overlooked in lieu of “sizzle,” as you put it. And sizzle is usually pretty expensive.

  4. Chris, thanks for this. This and your GTD (Last Post) were excellent. I hope you don’t mind if I use this in my next job interview.

  5. It’s also easy to get bored with a project before it even launches, just cuz your preparation has been so long and arduous. I’ve been a part of more projects than I’d like to admit that get launched and then get forgotten, while the customer is just now starting to understand what it’s all about.


  6. The jam was the closest legal substitute for crack in existence.

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