“Let him talk to me when he’s on da ground.”
– Benny Rendazzo, E 186th St, The Bronx
“When I am strong why should I negotiate with you? When I am weak, how can I?”
– Arab proverb
This proverb is ancient, but in the era of collaboration and interdependence, it is an anachronism. Benny believed in negotiation and compromise, but only when he had the upper hand. Rendazzo’s fish market was an icon in The Bronx. He always had good fish and it was always cheap. One day a bunch of kids stole some fish from Benny. When Benny caught them he smacked them around with a large frozen tuna. These kids promised to make the situation right, but not until they had a few bruises and were covered in tuna mess.
Once the kids knew Benny meant business, negotiations softened considerably. They had agreed to show up and clean up the fish stalls each night until they worked off the amount stolen, plus interest. It only took a few days but after that each kid had to take turns guarding the fish market. Benny wasn’t a bad guy, he just knew his ways.
In today’s day and age Benny should have called the police. I think “fish smacking” is probably illegal.
But Benny didn’t trust the police. And Benny did give each kid a fish dinner after their guarding post was over. See…not a bad guy.
How does this translate to marketing? Well, too often we see companies with great ideas and decide that what they need to do is find a large firm and “partner” with them. But they are in the weakened position. They have a cool idea (whether it was finished or not) but no market, no marketing, no market traction, no sales, no money, and often, no clue.
You also see this scenario with fund raising. We have seen ideas get funded, but any marketing pro would tell you it’s far easier to fund a company than an idea. Companies are entities with dedicated staff, products, sales & strategies.
A manufacturer of nursing bras came to me some time ago, looking for funding or a “partner.” My counsel was to try to simply sell 100 bras. It’s the difference between plans and reality. Now you’re a company, looking for increased funding.
Currently, I am talking to a medical company that wants to make a consumer product. They are meeting with the FDA, Universities, more Doctors, Professors and host of people who can’t or won’t write them a check.
My advice?3D Print 500 of these medical devices and let’s sell them on the air (either internet or TV). Benny Rendazzo would agree with this approach. Once we have actual sales and clients, the “we will never, ever, ever, write you a check” people become less demanding, less powerful and quite frankly, less interesting.
Often in marketing we are desperate. This is especially true when you have don’t have a sales focused company. Some firms drop all their energy and money into product development and think of sales as an afterthought. Companies say “We’ll get a sales guy” when they really need a sales mentality. In simple terms, why would anyone dump a lot of money into anything without really knowing that people want to buy it? Marketing should be the second call made. Get it in, get it in early.
Marketing isn’t about beating someone with a fish or even needing to destroy all competitors. It’s about getting clients and in that way being able to soften those negotiations. If you were to speak with Universities, for example, they become a party that may accelerate development, but can’t control the company.
Take the case of this book, which was alluded to in the introduction. If the decision is made to go with big, big, big, big publishers then my side of the table has increased clout once I have a self published book in hand. The beautiful by-product of that is that you don’t get the constant bickering over changing the manuscript…because it isn’t a manuscript, its a book!