Blindspot of Businesses

I love Autumn.  I especially love sipping hot cocoa out on the back deck with the smell of new TV show premieres wafting in the air.  I greet the season with anticipation as the mighty wind blows these offerings fresh off the tree.  Then, I watch, listen, and read as they nestle into living rooms across the country.  Such hope.  Such promise.  Such hype.  If you believe the NBC promotional machine, the most anticipated new series this year is Blindspot.

The premise of this show is interesting. A beautiful amnesiac, aptly named Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) is found stuffed inside a large duffle bag and dropped in the middle of Times Square in New York. When she emerges from the bag she is greeted by an armed bomb squad. She has no memory of the past or what lies ahead of her. What is evident is that her entire body has been freshly tattooed. In the middle of her back is the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton).                                                  

Cue the throaty, resonant baritone announcer. Add the dramatic musical underscore!  Cut to the promotional still of the actress looking forlornly over her shoulder at the camera. Fly in the logo. Add the sound effect stinger. Fade to black.  Yep.  This sounds like a hit TV show to me.

One area that intrigues me about this show is the fact that her narrative memory has been obliterated but her procedural memory is still intact.  In other words, her history - the ‘who’ she is and the ‘why’ she is (those memories that form the reasoning behind our actions) have been erased.  However, her procedural memory is unaffected. She still knows how to walk, talk, fight, speak other languages, and use multiple weapons.  This makes for great action sequences as she discovers the skills she possesses. The character can still function.  But, she doesn’t know why.

What brings this aspect of Blindspot into the forefront of my  thought process is the connective tissue I see between this particular show, and the book that I have been studying, ‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies’,  by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras.  This book compares companies with a long history of success with their direct competitors during that same time frame. One of the bedrock principles shared between the successful companies is an unwavering commitment to preserving their core ideology.  They know who they are and why they exist. This steadfast dedication to their core guides the decision making process - since these visionary companies are equally committed to stimulating progress.  Difficult decisions are easier to make when you measure them against the foundation of your internal belief system rather than the whimsy of the marketplace.

The Blindspot for the comparison companies studied by Collins & Porras is their lack of commitment to their foundation or core ideology.  These companies move forward in time just like the Jane Doe character.  The company functions, but doesn’t know why.  Product quality or relevance begins to suffer.  As does employee morale.  These signs are followed closely by an erosion of market share.  Without adherence to core ideology there is no motivation to stimulate progress.  It is the ‘why’ that holds us to the task when things get difficult, as individuals and as an organization.  Without a strong ‘why’ these companies are just like the many unsuccessful Fall TV season premieres blown to a new day, a new timeslot, and ultimately off the schedule – easily forgotten and replaced by another offering.

Let’s look at this from an advertising perspective for a moment.  Blindspots exist here too. 

You invest heavily in your outdoor marketing strategy with creative content for TV, radio, print and social media.  All of the effort, creative energy and monetary resources are targeted with one purpose in mind: to hopefully connect with prospective customers.  You move forward in time like a beautiful amnesiac, advertising to the masses but not remembering the why behind your campaign.  The why is simple – you want them to call you.

On-hold advertising resides firmly in the center of the blindspot of your marketing strategy because you spend so much time and money trying to get them to call; you forget to focus on what they will actually experience when they do.  Maybe you can’t see it because you so rarely call your own business. Maybe that’s why you are still advertising your 4th of July specials on hold – it’s in the Blindspot.

Successful companies understand the value of on-hold advertising as a vital piece of their entire marketing strategy.  It is intimate, cost effective, and targeted specifically to your customers.  Visionary companies are committed to preserving their core ideology and stimulating progress.  They know who they are and why they exist. This foundation insulates them from the fads and trends that may take them in the wrong direction and solidifies their position as they stimulate progress to maximize profit.

So I’d like to leave you with a couple of questions:  Do you know why your organization exists?  Do you know what you have playing on hold right now?  If you don’t know the answer to either question, then you have a blindspot that needs to be addressed. 

Cool tattoos, though.

Tom McTee


Tom McTee