It’s Los Angeles Bike Week: http://theskippersays.com/post/50372876098/erycycles-list-of-thanngs-to-do-for-l-a-bike-week
Merely giving the people what they want is a shortcut to banality, mediocrity and invisibility.
The agency that gives its clients exactly what they think they want never deserves to win Agency of the Year, and worse, is rarely seen as the leader in the field, the trusted advisor that is smart enough to know what the client ought to want instead. They certainly can’t charge more or hire better team members.
I’m defining pandering as using your perception of your customer’s wishes as an excuse to do work you’re not proud of.
The public radio station that puts on empty, sensationalist coverage of the current crisis-of-the-year is chasing others down the rabbithole, a chase it can’t (and doesn’t want to) win. [The excuse is always the same—it’s what the listeners want!]
The bookstore that gives customers toys, games and other junk to survive won’t long be able to call itself a bookstore.
The restaurant that eagerly serves kids salty, fatty, tasteless junk food because that’s all they will eat is inevitably training an entire generation not to eat at restaurants when they grow up.
The architect who proclaims that times are tough and ends up doing nothing but ticky tacky work because it’s easy to sell gets the clients he deserves.
The copywriter/editor who trades in meaning for lists, using calculated SEO keyword loading and sensationalism designed to attract the drive-by audience, earns the privilege of doing it again and again, forever.
The reason you don’t have to pander is that you’re not in a hurry and you don’t need everyone to embrace you and your work. When you focus on the weird, passionate, interesting segment of the audience, you can do extraordinary work for a few (and watch it spread) instead of starting from a place of average.
Go ahead and make something for the elites. Not the elites of class or wealth, but the elites of curiosity, passion and taste. Every great thing ever created was created by and for this group.
There’s a surprisingly large amount of room at the this end of the market—among those that care enough about what they do to say no, and better yet, to teach the market why they’re right.
They earn their niche at the top of the market by leading, not pandering.
If you come to my brainstorming meeting and say nothing, it would have been better if you hadn’t come at all.
If you go to work and do what you’re told, you’re not being negative, certainly, but the lack of initiative you demonstrate (which, alas, you were trained not to demonstrate) costs us all, because you’re using a slot that could have been filled by someone who would have added more value.
It’s tempting to sit quietly, take notes and comply, rationalizing that at least you’re not doing anything negative. But the opportunity cost your newly lean, highly leveraged organization faces is significant.
Not adding value is the same as taking it away.
Okay, okay, so it wasn’t our efforts alone and so what if the Streetcar won’t be zipping around downtown until 2014. We’re still standing on this internet hilltop shouting:
About 6 months ago we began work on the marketing and outreach campaign to get a measure passed via special election in favor of a Streetcar in Downtown Los Angeles.
We’re very happy to say that with nearly 73% of the vote the measure passed and Downtown is well on it’s way to inner…. uh.. mobility? yeah, that sounds right.
It wasn’t easy but damn does it feel good to win, even Fidel is excited about the Streetcar.
Huge thanks and it was a pleasure working with to LASI, Ludlow Kingsley, Mumtaz Marketing, Eric, JWM, Ben, Shane, Rob, Miguel, Erin and Rainbeau.