Last Saturday I had a consulting day with a client.
Throughout the session, he kept emphasising the word excellence.
He told me he wanted to be the Mercedes or Ferrari of his industry, therefore, he wanted to ensure we create high quality products.
My remark to him was, we cannot use excellent as an excuse for procrastination.
Excellence is a journey not a destination, therefore, we should constantly be striving to better our best.
Hollywood’s Definition of Excellence
When I left my client, I headed straight to the cinema to watch Birdman.
The past few years, I have made it something of a ritual to watch all of the films that win the Oscar for best picture.
Being a marketing consultant, I am constantly seeking new ways of marketing my clients products and services.
And there is no better place of getting new marketing ideas than from an Oscar winning film.
However, I came out of the cinema disappointed.
For me, Birdman was one of the worse films I ever watched.
There was no story line and with the exception of Edward Norton, the rest of the actors were horrible beyond believe.
It was a repeat of my experience with American Hustle.
I went to watch American Hustle the night of the Oscars.
When I came out of the cinema, I thought to myself, how can this film get ten Oscar nominations?
Thank goodness, it did not win a single Oscar.
The New Benchmark for Excellence
Coming out of the cinema on Saturday, I thought to myself, how could Birdman have gotten an Oscar nomination talk less of winning the Oscar for best picture.
This for me is a testament to how low our current benchmark for excellence is.
Think about those films that won the Oscar decades ago, many of those films are still classic today.
And those are films that will still be considered masterpieces hundred years from today.
Who the hell will remember Birdman one year from now?
Business Lessons From Hollywood
I am not a film critic and this article is not meant as a criticism of Birdman or Hollywood.
But there are few important marketing and business lessons that entrepreneurs and small business owners can learn from Hollywood marketing strategy.
Hollywood understands that film is business and business is about making money and profit.
Therefore, it produce films that are good enough for its audiences not to please the critics.
Am I suggesting you dole out crappy product and service to your customers?
No, not at all.
What I am suggesting is you understand your customers and give them what they perceive as excellent even if it does not meet up with your own definition of excellent.
Don’t impose your value on your customers.
According to the critics, Fifty Shades of Grey might win the Razzies as the best of the worst film of all times, yet it is breaking box office records.
If you were Hollywood, who would you listen to, the critics or the audience?
The Excellent Benchmark Easy to Break
The second business lesson you need to learn from it as a business person is, it is no longer difficult to break the excellent benchmark.
This means, just being a little better than your competitors can make you fortune.
I agree with my client when he said we need to aim for the pinnacle.
The reality is, the pinnacle is no longer that high.
Therefore, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, if you aim for the top, you can get there at a surprisingly shorter time than you expect.
The majority of businesses have settled at Birdman and Fifty Shades of Grey excellent level.
They are making fortune from it so they are kidding themselves that, that’s the way to do business.
But I will tell you that there is a tiny minority of businesses like that of my clients’ that are willing to take the risk on real excellent.
It is those businesses like the old classic films that will remain after the Birdman and Fifty
Shades of Grey type businesses have long disappeared from the memory of people.
How much does a Picasso or Gogh sell for?
Like a good bottle of wine, masterpiece get even better with age.
Putting in the time to create an excellent business will pay dividend with the passing of time.
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