I concluded a recent Monday Morning Memo entitled “Melvin the Lion” by saying,
“We won the game when we picked the wiener dogs. This is the dirty little secret of advertising: you determine the success of the campaign when you pick what you’re going to promote. Have you been settling for precision lawn chairs and lawnmowers? Repent of your sin. Demand the wiener dogs. You’ll be amazed how much better your ads work.”
An old friend emailed me the next day to say, “Please forgive me for being grumpy… but in the memo you gave no explanation on how to distinguish between wiener dogs and lawnmowers.”
My friend makes a good point. Not every idea is a wiener dog. Sometimes it’s just a dog.
Each of us has 2 kinds of blind spots. The first blind spot is a negative trait of which you are unaware. Everyone around you sees it, but you don’t. The second blind spot is a talent or gift you assume to be common to everyone, but it isn’t. It’s your gift and yours alone.
I’ve always been able to spot a wiener dog. My ability to pick the winning idea from a shuffled deck of mediocre ideas is so completely intuitive and effortless that it annoys me when other people can’t do it. Even more annoying is when they ask me to explain how I do it. “It’s a wiener dog! Can’t you see it? Open your eyes, man! It’s a freakin’ wiener dog!”
The bottom line on the home page of the Wizard Academy website says,
“The faculty of Wizard Academy studies what gifted people do when they’re feeling inspired so we can reverse engineer their unconscious methods. We teach you how to do consciously what a gifted person does unconsciously.”
I’ve spent decades studying other people’s gifts but I never once considered I might have a gift of my own.
The day after I received that email from my friend, I met Ray Bard, my publisher, for lunch. Ray immediately bopped me with the same question. “Roy, when I read the memo this week I couldn’t help but notice that you never told us how to spot the wiener dog. Why did you leave that part out?” Part of me stood up, clenched my fists and screamed in frustration. But that part of me is invisible.
The visible part of me said, “Ray, you gave me the formula for spotting wiener dogs 10 years ago. Don’t you remember?” Ray looked at me quizzically, so I continued. “Puddles, Bayous, Wells and Oceans… Question 1: How widespread is the interest? Question 2: How deep is the interest?”
Ray got it and smiled but I was on a roll, so I continued, “Spotting the winning idea is all about identifying
(1.) Defining Characteristics and
(2.) Limiting Factors.”
The Defining Characteristics of the Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team idea were irrelevant because the Limiting Factor was that each team would need a talented choreographer and members who were willing to practice relentlessly. And we know that’s not gonna happen. The Precision Lawn Chair idea was a puddle. It could never trigger more than narrow, shallow interest.
The Defining Characteristics of the Riding Lawnmower Races were
(1.) gasoline and
(2.) testosterone, so basically, it’s a poor man’s NASCAR. As such, it would trigger deep interest, but only to a narrow section of the population. Riding Lawnmower Races were a well.
The Defining Characteristics of the Wiener Dog Races were
(1.) Dogs. Everyone loves dogs. Kids love dogs. Families have dogs. Dogs have personalities. They’re cute. People love to show off their dogs and don’t hesitate to spend money on them.
(1a.) The dog is usually considered a member of the family.
(1b.) Dogs don’t have to rehearse to be dogs.
(1c.) Long and skinny on short little legs, wiener dogs are funny looking and have a funny name. A bunch of wiener dogs is like a barrel of monkeys; instant, guaranteed fun.
The Limiting Factor of a Wiener Dog Race would be:
How many people own wiener dogs?
Answer: Lots. More than enough. It’s a very popular breed.
Result: Widespread interest that will be deep enough to cause large numbers of people to actually show up for the event. The wiener dog idea is an ocean idea.
Question 1: How widespread is the interest?
Question 2: How deep is the interest?
Narrow, shallow interest is a puddle. Few people are fooled by puddles.
Narrow, deep interest is a well. You can make money with “well” products because their customers are highly motivated and easily targeted. Cult brands are built on wells.
Widespread, shallow interest is a bayou. Entrepreneurs and advertisers see a bayou and think it’s an ocean because they really want it to be an ocean. They lie to themselves about the depth of the public’s interest.
Widespread, deep interest is an ocean. That’s why each year’s Wiener Dog Races in my little town of 2,404 people has been bigger than the year before. This year we raced more than 600 wiener dogs and raised $120,000 for the Buda Lions Club. Next year’s profits will likely be $150,000
Want to make a lot of money?
Learn how to spot a wiener dog.
And don’t be fooled by bayous.
Roy H. Williams
BIG NEWS – Digital Marketing – After building and exiting a NASDAQ-traded company, Wizard Academy’s beloved Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg will be back on campus for 2 days in November. Will you be one of the lucky 50 to snag a seat at the all-new Wizards of Web 2010?