Garage Sale MBA

Garage Sale MBA

by kirkcoburn
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In my final post on my Garage Sale MBA experience, I wanted to give my a few key takeaways…

The Chief Marketing Outsider is not going to let this current economic mad max beyond thunderdome economy crush the pack. He is going to sell everything he owns if he has to. Last weekend, we tried to sell everything that we didn’t want. It was a huge success, but why?

Here are a few amazing lessons that the CMO learned from that one day startup experience.

#1 – Craig’s List is Today’s Newspaper. New Media is Today’s Media. It is not that Craig’s List is “New Media”, but rather it is “FREE” Media. We advertised using Craig’s List to a demographic that has one of the lowest percentage of computer ownership in the US (According to the Pew Research Center study fielded in 2007, Latinos comprise 14% of the U.S. adult population and about half of this growing group (56%) goes online). How did this demographic figure it out? It is cheaper to look online than it is to buy a newspaper. When you add the number of cell phones out there, our target demographic can advertise amongst themselves through non-traceable means. When you think about it, Craig’s List has created an efficient marketplace that keeps prices down. This advertising channel fits the demographic and the marketplace: Cheap Goods. (For all of you techno-forwards out there, this point is many years old but still very important. The local newspapers are not out of this game yet. They still have the most local sales reps and they are starting to wake up).

#2 Jim Collins was only partially right. Not only do you need to get the wrong people off of the bus, but you also need to get the head trash, mental garbage, and bad culture off of the bus. I believe that this takes time, but is critical to success. Take the garage sale. We did not throw ourselves off of the bus; we threw away old things that we did not need anymore. The exercise of identifying the bad from the good and then consciously placing the bad in the “to be thrown off the bus pile” is critical to the success. The CMO has a saying in his household. Remember Fully & Forgive! Can you identify those failed ideas and bad strategies that you have tried in your past? Can you now recognize the failures and not make them again?

Roy Spence’s book, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For discusses this concept that he calls DUMP THE GARBAGE. “Leaders of purpose have garbage to dump: grudges, guilt, greed, mistakes, losses, remorse. Holding onto those feelings will only create more of it. Whatever is on your mind will show up in your organization and in your life. Dump the Garbage. Do it early and often.”

#3 – Many executives are afraid to have a garage sale. It is beneath them. Are you one of these leaders? While preparing for the garage sale, The Chief Marketing Outsider was talking to a few potential collaborators (see note on Marketing Strategy) to help us build the product that we were going to position as the “largest children’s clothing sale”. One of these potential collaborators declined because they “do not do garage sales”. Are you afraid? Is taking out the garbage beneath you? A garage sale is the recognition that you need to remove the old to prepare for something better. Someone else values your past mistakes, failures, worn out goods and is willing to pay for them. If having a garage sale is beneath you, maybe you are holding onto bad strategies and unable to admit your weaknesses. If you do not make room for the new, your house will continue to be plagued by the old. (NOTE: please do not send the CMO any angry messages about how you take your @#$% STUFF to the Goodwill instead of having a garage sale. Well, that’s nice. All you are doing is giving your stuff to a middle man to have the garage sale for you!!!).

#4 – Cleaning is therapeutic, you make room for Spring, New Growth. The Chief Marketing Outsider’s close friend pointed out to the CMO that you need to cut back the plants in order for them to be able to grow. The exercise of preparing for a garage sale is painful but very therapeutic. Remember fully and forgive! We need to make room for the new. To do this, we need to get rid of the old. How many of you own or work for product based companies? Have you asked your operations team about how much old inventory is sitting on the shelves that needs to be written off? I am amazed about how much this practice is rampant amongst the small and very large clients. Most of these companies do not want to write down the assets which impacts their balance sheet.

#5 – Collaborators are Critical. The CMO and family wanted a successful garage sale. We believed that in order to maximize our positioning in the marketplace and our offering to the customers, we needed to align with others to help LIFT our offering and reputation. We ended up partnering with a clothing company that had old children’s clothing inventory that needed to be moved. This partnership helped us have the “largest selection of children’s clothing” in the entire city of Austin for garage sales that weekend. The CMO has observed that those companies that want to “preserve” their revenues and territory by not bringing in collaborators usually stay small. Their growth stagnates. I may write a book on this very topic (I DARE YOU TO PROVE ME WRONG!)

If you are greedy, too good to have a garage sale, do not like cutting back the old, and not aware of how to connect to your customers, you will fail.


The Chief Marketing Outsider

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