This post is a hard one to categorise, it’s a bit of marketing, a bit of motivation with a touch of creative thinking and perseverance thrown in. There is also an innovation (for me) which you will find if you read through to the end.
Let’s start with motivation, goals and creativity – and a subtle sales pitch.
In my “Achieving Goals” book about “How to use Marathon Runners Secrets for Business Goals” (Kindle eBook version on sale for $2.99) I wrote how I was a hopeless athlete at school. Too slow for track events, too clumsy for high or long jump and downright dangerous throwing the javelin, shot put or discus. I did marginally better at longer distances and cross-country. In the 60’s when I started High School in Rhodesia, attendance at school sports was compulsory. Unless a genuine note from a doctor could be produced, the penalty for missing a practice was three strokes of the cane. (6 strokes for getting caught presenting a forged note.)
The punishment was sufficient motivation for me to turn out for athletics, rugby and cricket practice depending on the season and to make rare appearances for the school team as a poor substitute if there was a shortage of better players.
My sporting ambitions were all focused on the back of a horse. I was fortunate that I was given my first horse (and the responsibility of caring for it) at the tender age of seven. I was also fortunate that all my sluggish clumsiness on the athletic field disappeared and I became recklessly fearless on horseback. The introduction to equine sports at an early age led to years of great experiences, but that is a story for another time.
That is why running my first marathon and then a series of longer, ultra marathons in my late 30’s and 40’s were huge challenges and became the Big Hairy Audacious Goals that self-help and personal development experts love to talk about.
Another skill I lacked and was seriously mocked for at school was any trace of musical or singing ability. After a few singing classes in junior school, I was told that a) I was tone-deaf and b) my out-of-tune croaking was upsetting the natural harmony of the rest of the class. I was banned from taking part in any further singing or music classes and told to sit in the corner and read a book. That effectively ended any chance of a music career before it started. This was before the days of political correctness and the unfortunate modern practice of rewarding mediocre or worse, non-performance. I believe our generation of Baby Boomers is better for it.
My lack of musical ability was strange in that my late father had played in a military band before I was born and could pick up a guitar, a wind instrument or sit at a piano and in minutes play a recognisable tune by ear. I was shocked to hear him play the Beatles’ “Yesterday”. The ability skipped a generation with me and went instead to my elder son who has the same ability to very quickly learn how to produce a tune from an instrument.
Having got the running bug out of my system by achieving all the goals and more that I set out to do, it has long been a goal to learn to play a musical instrument. This is partly a desire to learn a new skill, partly in the hope that it will help me become more creative in my writing and marketing, partly as yet another defence against Alzheimer’s disease. Most of all, short of attempting to swim across Lake Erie, (I am a weak swimmer) it is one of the most difficult challenges I can think of. I have to overcome 50+ years of living with the knowledge that I have no musical talent what so ever.
Because I know so little about music, choosing a musical instrument or even how to go about learning to play one, I thought I would start with a used one. On the way back from a dental appointment today, I remembered that an acquaintance was now working at a large antique / used goods centre and that he might be able to advise me.
Here is the marketing bit.
I was totally unprepared for what I saw. I rarely go shopping, I leave that for Sue. When I need something that I have to buy myself, normally horse, farm or business stuff, I find out where to go, go there, pick it up, pay for it and get out of the store as quickly as possible. That is if I cannot buy it on-line.
My contact was not there, Murphy’s law dictated that he should take the day off the same day as my first visit. Regular antique or bargain hunters are probably familiar with the type of store. It is a large, old building, with 2 floors divided up into booths, the booths are rented out to vendors. Some booths are large others just a few feet of shelving on a wall. Every thing short of live animals and new appliances was displayed. Old radio sets with valves, barbers chairs, gramophones, tools, clothes, furniture, art, books and a few musical instruments.
For someone who hates shops and shopping, I was fascinated, I wandered around for over an hour, I spoke to the business owner, he told me how the business was organised. A combination of renting out booths for a monthly rental with an overriding commission on sales and straight buying and selling. The booth renters do not have to staff the booths. Price tags and codes are attached and payment collected by the owners of the business.
I had always though of the antique business as a few high-end retail outlets in big cities, many quaint, folksy little shops in small towns and villages on tourist routes with a few antique fairs and the odd collectors item turning up at garage sales.
This idea of renting out booths in a big building, gives small operators a prime retail showcase without the overhead of renting a shop or employing staff. It also gives them exposure to a flock of buyers drawn to the huge range of goods on offer. The business owner scores by getting a rental income for a big share of his floor space, a commission on all sales and more customers.
It also reminded me that I probably have hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of value in the old tools, cans, bits of harness, old window frames and barn hardware lying around in the basement of this old farmhouse and its derelict barns.
What lessons can we draw from this for Internet Marketing? It has certainly made me think of a few possibilities. Looking at joint ventures a little differently for a start. A reminder to keep looking at other businesses because they all have lessons for us.
Here’s my innovative bit. The first audio on this blog. I will be recording a series of podcasts so this is a trial run. It has been on my to do list for a while, after listening to Pete Williams who I mentioned in my last post I decided to take action. This one is about accents and was triggered by an ad I saw today.
Click the link below to listen.
What do you think? Should people disguise their accents? Or make the most of them and enjoy sounding exotic?
What do you think of audio messages in a blog post or stand alone podcasts?
Wishing you success.
p.s. I didn’t buy a musical instrument today.