Getting into a fight and not knowing what you’re doing can really hurt!”
“What I lose in strength I make up for in guts.”
– Dave Secatio, 10th Ave and 44th St.
Ok, we’re marketing street fighters. Well, if we were just street fighters, we would have to learn how, wouldn’t we? They say “experience is the best teacher” but who needs to get clobbered 500 times to learn a lesson? Can’t we get an advantage with some training? I should have taken my own advice, because I lost a lot of fights. If you walk up 8th avenue, you still may be able to find pieces of my body and chunks of my dignity.
True, there is no substitute for the street. The MBA’s who come out of college with advanced theories and analytical know how are still no match for a person who has developed a product and turned it into a $10 million company. The theory is that the MBA’s will be able to completely recognize and categorize patterns and once that happens can accelerate growth and decrease risk.
Just like knowing when to fight and knowing when to run, the best marketing street fighters both launched products/companies AND got their training. It’s why I have an MBA. And it’s why I learned the martial arts. Martial arts training is no match for a tough kid from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn who keeps charging after he gets shot. Or the kid that gets up after you break a bottle on his head. But when you combine the two schools of fighting? You become very hard to beat.
Most of the neighborhood toughs didn’t have the money or the desire to take Judo classes. But each of these guys had a number. Billy Bat always used the number 100. 100 brawls and you were a pro. Dave Secatio (rhymes with pistachio) put his number higher, closer to 300. When you think about it, that’s only 1 fight per week for 6 years, and you get two weeks vacation each year for Christmas and Yom Kippur. If you started fighting at 12, you were a pro by 18.
Beyond the morality of street fighting, I had a big problem: getting hit hurts! It really hurts! It hurts for days, sometimes weeks!
For me, it became important to seek out an expert in combat and learn from him, which I did. One word of caution: when you take up Karate, don’t tell anyone for a couple of years. “Karate me you BLEEP” and “Come On, Kick My Ass” will be in everyday life. Ironic because the whole of martial arts is about defense. One spilled word and you will be using that defense way before your training shows you how. Beyond Karate lessons or self defense classes, there are basic things you can do to train. Exercise, run, lift, eat right and learn to handle a weapon. A weapon doesn’t have to be a gun or a knife. My favorite is a fire extinguisher. Then you decide if that weapon is for offense or defense. I won’t moralize on anyone here…but in my case the extinguisher is thedefense weapon in my hands when someone shows up at my door very late at night, unannounced.
Getting our martial arts training is akin to getting our marketing training. With marketing today covering so many areas, it’s hard at any given time to master all of them. Like Judo, if you alert people that you are working on something, you had better know what you are doing. Social media “likes” go up and down. If you want to tell your boss and your client that you are building them a Facebook page, make sure the “likes” tally keeps increasing, or they will beat you up on your numbers. If you are prescribing some sales management CRM solution, make sure you know it backwards and forwards.
Marketing is a two-edged sword. (And by the way, none of my crew carried any two-edged swords). Marketing can help you get customers, which is its intent. But italso alerts other crews…competitors who want your”turf.” It alerts your internal enemies at large firms who feel marketing is useless. So, if you are indeed stepping into the marketing ring, make sure you know how to use your fists.
Unfortunately, like street fighting, the only real way to learn marketing skills is to use them. And depending on the medium employed, the learning curve can be short, steep, or both. My conversations with other CMO’s and Marketing Directors always shock me in that so many of them haven’t figured out Social Media, its do’s and don’ts, and how to properly apply it.
The martial arts taught me roundhouse kicks. But how often do you kick someone in the head? Improper use of a roundhouse kick is like improper use of a Facebook page. The Social Media Gurus of the world will talk about brand engagement and community building without answering the key question: what does this do for revenue?
Had I known this in my Tae Kwon Do days I could have asked my master to teach me wrist holds or throws, which would have been far more practical than a roundhouse.
As Joey, the bartender said: “don’t put up your hands unless you are ready to use them.”
Ready? You can read the entire Marketing Book