Jay Conrad Levinson Speaks: Guerrilla Pioneering

-Our guest blogger- Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the best-selling marketing series in history, “Guerrilla Marketing,” plus 30 other books. His books have sold 14 million copies worldwide. His guerrilla concepts have influenced marketing so much that today his books appear in 41 languages and are required reading in many MBA programs worldwide. He was a teacher and sounding board for The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. and Marion Ross, Ph.D.) ; and after many discussions strongly encouraged us to publish a book (soon to be released) designed to assist people who struggle with implementing tools learned in business or entrepreneurial coaching programs due to self-sabotage. For more on Jay Conrad Levinson visit www.gmarketing.com

Guerrilla Pioneering

Guerrillas are terrified of pioneering, knowing that it meets with solid walls of apathy, confusion and fear. Here’s how they handle it gracefully.

Even though one of the most powerful words in marketing, surpassed only by “free,” is “new” — truly new product or service launches rarely excite the public as much as the marketer. For this reason, guerrillas aren’t in an enormous rush to be first to the marketplace. Patience is one of their allies and observation is another.

True, in the world of marketing, it is a heady and thrilling experience to introduce a new product or service — especially one with a clear and demonstrable benefit to humankind, even if it’s one human at a time. But for every giddy delight, there are innumerable hidden horrors. Pioneers do get to do it first, but pioneers often end up with arrows in the back of their necks.

Author and ad agency founder Rosser Reeves once said “Originality is the most dangerous word in advertising.” Heed well his words when it comes to introducing new offerings. Your task, unless you’re a guerrilla engineer or scientist, is to generate profits rather than patents.

Rather than seeking the original and being groundbreaking pioneers, many guerrillas put the odds in their favor by going only with the proven. Study marketing books and periodicals, case histories on the Internet and in company literature. Do it to learn what is working for whom and how they do it. Gain inspiration, encouragement and tactical ideas from what you learn so you can fill your coffers to the brim.

The waterbed industry, once a $2 billion industry and now nearly evaporated from my attention, was in its infancy when industry leaders offered to partner up with some of the biggest names in the innerspring market. “No thanks,” they were told. “We have no doubt you’ll do well, but we’ve been pioneers before and we don’t want to be pioneers again.” This attitude is due to the fact that it took 20 years for the public to switch from stuffed mattresses to innersprings. Pioneering requires patience, see?

It took the zipper 40 years to go from being patented to being utilized on a broad scale. How long do you figure it’ll take the Internet? After all, it has been with us well over a decade but still the majority of people don’t “get it” yet.

For a long time it’s been said that Procter and Gamble, a Hall of Fame marketing organization, tries to be second on the market with their products. “Let the others make the mistakes. Let us learn from them. Then, let’s do it right.” Sounds like a guerrilla adage to me because guerrillas just can’t afford to make mistakes. They’ve got to get it right the first time. That’s tough for pioneers. Ask Jacob Donner.

Contrary to public opinion, people do not want to be first on their block to do anything. Instead, they’d prefer to be 7th on their block. Hey, being 34th sounds even more comfortable to them.

They’ve made purchase errors before and they don’t want to make them again. Waiting and seeing makes more sense to them.

Guerrillas are famed for rarely being in a hurry. Their reputation for moving slowly is even more pronounced when they’re asked to be pioneers.

Experts tell us that as a rule of them, 2% of the population instantly embraces innovations. Another 12% join them after a year, and after two years, 22% hop on the bandwagon. This means that pioneers must have the lungs and finances to hold their breath for a long time. And even after that long time, 54% of our good citizens are still waiting and waiting.

Whether your company is developing or marketing a new product or service, realize that in spite of the superb quality of your offering, it is only human behavior that prohibits the instant gratification that you, also guilty of human behavior, crave.

If science developed an anti-aging pill and the FDA granted instant approval, it would still take five to ten years before the majority of the population would cozy up to it.

Despite our resistance to the new, Americans accept it far faster than Europeans. While working in England during the late sixties, I recall a presentation to the marketing committee for England’s most popular anti-zit ointment. We recommended TV aimed at teenagers. The response: “While we agree that teenagers are our primary market, we are not convinced that television is here to stay.”

Pioneers face that attitude on a daily basis.

That’s why guerrillas either wait for others to do the pioneering and educating, the paving and groundbreaking, the trailblazing and debugging for them, or they launch with an abundance of patience, a keen sense of observation, and a bank account filled with money.

– For more on Jay Conrad Levinson visit www.gmarketing.com

*Check out The Shift Doctors’ books at the Amazon link by clicking here and the Meditation CDs at the digstation link by clicking here

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