Paul Harvey used to say, “We’re not one world.” He was right. When I started in the business, it wasn’t one world. But that didn’t matter to the old guy who owned the place. The only opinion that mattered was that of the owner, and, if you didn’t like it, you could leave. That’s the way it was. Today we’re a more diverse world.
Mark, a friend of mine and the leader of a very successful organization, reinforced that message. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s not young enough to be my son, but I’d be proud to have him as a younger brother. At a planning session, some of his senior employees went on a rampage about what was wrong with the Gen Xers and the millennials in his organization and in other companies. When asked his opinion, Mark said, “I think they’re bright, creative and very much the future. I think the rest of us are stuck in a rut and only want to criticize the new — we’re the past.” Did I say Mark was wise?
See also: Selling to Millennials Is Easy!
Then, the other day, I saw an impeccably dressed white-haired gentleman heading into his boutique for another day of selling designer clothes to his upscale clientele. He wore a seersucker suit, white shirt and a colorful tie. He was dapper, or, as they said in the good old days, “dressed to the nines.”
Not two blocks down the street I saw a young man in full urban wear. His pants were hanging to his shoes. He wore a baseball hat that was crooked on his head (either that or his head was off-center for his body). Around his neck hung more gold than my momma, wife and mother-in-law own collectively. He wore shoes that included more colors and probably cost more than all of the shirts in my closet. His look was capped off by a smile and a full “grill.” He was “dressed to it.”
My first reaction was to shake my head, but the wisdom of Mark and Paul surfaced in my psyche. I realized that both the young man and the old must have had some success and some sense of style to dress as they were. Both had dressed perfectly for their audience.
Yesterday, I finally saw “Bourne Ultimatum.” I anticipated a modern-day James Bond, but I saw more action in five minutes than in all the James Bond movies ever filmed. Bourne moved too fast for me, but I realized how bored most of this audience would be with Bond, James Bond. Much of today’s audience is wired by seven hours of video games and three cans of Red Bull. I watched after taking a short nap to make sure I’d stay awake.
We’re not one world.
Success depends on meeting the needs of the niche you’re in. Don’t expect the marketplace to adapt to your style and values and needs — you must meet theirs.