Betty’s Bitter Batter

If I tell you that “better” inspires fear — that even in the corporate world, people are scared of something better, you’d say that’s ridiculous; everybody wants something better. Well, something better is always different. It isn’t possible to make something better that isn’t different. Whatever it is, if it’s exactly the same, it isn’t better. So it’s the ‘different’ that scares people. When something’s different, it’s a heck of a gamble. And that’s where courage comes in. — Amar Bose

That quotation is likely from long ago. His eponymous corporation soon grew out of its defiance of fear, then fell into the common groupthink of profit-first and the hell with everything else. They lost the conviction of product orientation and clung to the safety net of sales orientation to become a marketing wunderkind.

But there’s something deeper in what Amar said. He’s not talking about little distinguishing differences that split hairs the way most products try to differentiate themselves from the rest of the copycat pack-jack. He’s not even talking about the differences that appear significant, but upon closer inspection reveal the basic concept behind the product is essentially nothing more than variations on a theme. You don’t have a new melody by changing the key, nor by changing it from major to minor. He’s talking about products that throw your expectations for a loop. He’s talking about something original.

Marketing is what you do when your product is no good. — Edwin Land

Mr. Land never lost sight of better. He never let the current of market forces steer him away from making a unique, original, quality product. He could have taken the middle road with ordinary mockingbird products, but instead, he gambled. He mustered the courage to go in a different direction, to give the world a new vision.

The idea of “better,” or “best,” is tossed around a lot, along with words like beat, win, conquer, compete, fight, kill, smash. If you have an honestly better product, there is no beating, fighting, smashing. It stands on its own. There’s an old saying you don’t hear much anymore, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” There’s a reason why you don’t hear it. It’s not true, at least, not anymore. The path being beaten is going the opposite direction. The masters of marketing have ensured that the better will be drowned out by the louder of advertising noise beating its path towards the consumer.

Now, the trick for finding that better recipe for Betty Botter’s Butter Batter is to beat your way past the bitter business of ballyhooing blustery blurbs. Cutting through the crap, unfortunately, takes time—lots of time. It takes focus—concentrated focus. It takes determination and courage. All things we are short of in our continuously media distracted lives. We need shortcuts.

The number one shortcut : Be contrary. Don’t follow the crowd. The longer and louder a message is being pounded into you, the faster and father you should run. It’s guaranteed that the most repeated messages are there to persuade you into doing something against your own best interest. Go against the grain.

Once you’ve made your way around the loudest crackling, you’ll find little rumbles, and pops, and clicks. The second shortcut : Be patient. Rushing only makes mistakes. Make a mental note of all those rumbles, then stop and let them settle. Pressure from any source is, more often than not, pushing you towards a bad idea. Even pressure from friends or trends. Ignore what’s hot. All blazes eventually burn themselves out. Anything worthwhile survives the flames. Good ideas last. Good choices hold up. Patience pays off.

Shortcut number three : Be demanding. Expect the facts—all the facts. You want the well established, well supported, measurable, reproducible, reliable facts. If any facts are missing, you can, if not dismiss, at least hold the incomplete information aside as dubious. Be on special alert for conflicting opinions. It’s a clue to inconsistency. Lies hide behind confusion. Lies hide behind contradiction. Lies hide behind ignorance.

Even with these shortcuts, there’s no instant return. You have to be constantly on guard. At the start, you may find it hard, but once you’ve gotten into the swing, it’ll become automatic. Questioning contrarianism, laid back patience, and the expectation of complete honest answers can get you past the mounds of cow manure in the pasture, and onto the sweet creamy butter of Betty Botter’s Better Batter.

Related post : [Fear & Conviction]

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