Lately, I’ve become fascinated by luck and how it can be integrated into branding. Sounds crazy, right?
At my agency, we have found ourselves in a position (knock on wood) where we have too many leads. This affords us the opportunity to pick and choose our clients as well as take a few risks.
This happened entirely by accident. We opened our doors five years ago after my old firm produced a documentary about the benefits of being nice. This was not a “feel good” film about putting good vibes out to the universe and having them come back. It was a documentary grounded in hard science that featured visionaries from institutions like Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkley who had scientifically proven that kindness was a means to success. I was so inspired that I decided to put those values to the test by founding an agency that applied the principles of kindness to marketing and branding.
More recently, I decided to use the same approach, but with luck. The awesome thing about owning an agency is you have an environment to try things out in the real world. This started because I had been looking for a follow-up to the kindness documentary and wondered if there was any scientific foundation to why some people are lucky and others are not. It turned out there was.
In his book, Dr. Richard Wiseman writes about conducting a 10-year study where he took “very lucky” people and “very unlucky” people and trying to find out what made the lucky ones so lucky.
Wiseman placed advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, asking for people who considered themselves exceptionally lucky or unlucky to contact him. Nearly 400 people from all walks of life responded.
He found that lucky people:
• Maximize chance opportunities
• Trust their hunches
• Expect good luck
• Have a resilient attitude that turns bad luck into good luck
Being in advertising, I thought, This sounds like a marketing strategy! So, here’s my take on how Wiseman’s formula can be applied to business, based on what’s worked for our own agency:
Maximize Chance Opportunities
Seek opportunity funnels rather than leads. An opportunity funnel is a tool, much like a fishing rod or a farm, that generates leads independently of your actions. Chasing leads, trying to identify prospects or cold calling people you’d like to work with takes a lot of time and resources. The same time and effort can be spent creating broad relationships that create opportunity. Focus on building relationships with influential websites and publications. Speak at industry events, and join local organizations that people turn to for recommendations about products and services like yours.
Trust Your Hunches
It’s all about fit. Have faith in what you do, and don’t be afraid to let go of clients that don’t fit with your organization. Be nice about it, of course, but understand that every client relationship that causes stress takes up space where a better client relationship could be. Remember, the good clients will talk. Keep them happy, and they will tell their friends. This will attract more good clients.
Expect Good Luck
This is where the “knock on wood” part comes in. Build a culture of luck, the appreciation of luck and the expectation of luck. There is no shame in being lucky, and don’t be afraid that it will all dry up (that’s what unlucky businesses do).
What Dr. Wiseman noticed in his research was that lucky people had more open body language, which attracted people to them. In my experience, when you expect good luck in business, you are more likely to give relationships that extra little effort needed to close leads, and your enthusiasm can become contagious.
Within our agency, once leads started to increase, so did our confidence. We started looking at who would be a good fit for the agency rather than feeling the need to take on every new client. The effect this had on prospective clients was startling. Clients began to chase us in order to convince us to take them on, which only amplified our confidence and led to more collaborative client relationships (and referrals).
Turn Bad Luck Into Good Luck
If you are in business long enough, you will certainly have a deal go bad. Whether it’s due to poor quality work, missing a critical deadline, underbidding a job or mismanagement of resources, every business makes mistakes.
There is a range of techniques that can transform a potential problem into a possible opportunity. For example, focus discussions on gains rather than losses. We had a situation where the shopping cart we had built for a client wasn’t working properly. But rather than focus on the broken cart, we shifted the conversation toward the rest of the website, which was excellent. We refunded the cost of the cart and rebuilt it for free. The client was so happy, they told everyone they knew how we came through in a pinch. More leads came in.
As the head of a branding agency, I’m always looking for a novel approach to set our clients apart from the competition. In the business, we call that crafting a value proposition. Basically, it’s what a business does differently and better than its competition.
So like we did with kindness, we are now integrating these principles of luck into marketing and branding to set ourselves apart from our competitors. We practice what we preach and try out everything on ourselves first. This approach has been particularly effective for us. Or maybe it’s just dumb luck.