As a teen I spent so much at Radio Shack they offered me a job. I learned a lot about customer interaction and building a reputation. One of the most important lessons I learn back in 1986 was my first “Long Tail”. I wish I would have understood the importance of that day back then.
I think back to what the 80’s brought us, that miracle technology that now fits into our pockets. That’s right the cell phone. Some of you might not remember back then they were as big as cinder blocks and weighed as much. It would have been hard at first to have envisioned what they would become.
So what does “The Long Tail” have to do with Radio Shack? While my Manager spent the entire day working on a big sale. Know this, one cell phone back then that was a big sale. About $1500 worth. Not to mention the cell service, installation and all the add ons! Well, while my Boss was working on that sale he kept taunting me with the idea he was going to break the sales record that day. While I toiled away on the writing sales tickets for capacitors, solder and blank tapes and the occasional free battery, he was full of pride at what this sale was going to bring him.
Here’s where the “The Long Tail” comes in. While we sat there counting the days sales I had a very large number of tickets way more than usual. The whole time the boss was entering the data the taunts became less and less as those tickets started adding up… Well…
Clicking away he soon realized that I beat him by about 20 dollars. I know that’s not a lot but by the end of the day I had made more connections with people and moved more items. While he spent the entire day with that one costumer. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. You have to nurture those good customers and hold their hands sometimes. That’s what keeps them coming back for the big ticket items.
But while I thought it was cool that I sold more, it didn’t really make an impression on me till about a 2 years ago when I read Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” and I started using iTunes extensively to start consuming media that really focused on my interests.
As an artist and sometimes filmmaker I very much see the importance of this lesson. Back then in 1986 it was much harder for me to try to make an impression. I had to work the entire room to make things happen. That was very time intensive and a lot of hard work. But today it’s not that hard to work the room or the world for that matter. What’s hard is making a good or dare I say great product. But it’s not hard to get it out there at least not anymore. The more you can get out the more you will learn about making a great product. This can be anything, photography, e-books, cartoons, films, webseries, insert name of your product here _____________.
To get my films out there back then I had to go through the system of gate keepers. Now the system is wide open for content creators of all kinds any kinds.
One of my missions with this blog will be to convince other people like me, artists, filmmakers and the like to forget about the system. Sure it would be great if they see your talents and some how bring you into the fold. But I say forget it those day are fading away.
I had recently picked up an issue of IndeSlate. Which is a great magazine about the Independent Filmmaker. I enjoy reading it. What I don’t like reading is story after story of filmmakers holding on to their films for years. I’m not talking 1 or 2 but 5 or 6 waiting for that right studio deal. I got news for you it might not ever come but it’s well within your power to make it on your own with blogs, re-cutting your film to be a webshow, digital distribution through Amazon, Jaman or Hulu. Soon it will be TIVO, Boxxy, your wifi enabled BluRay player. It doesn’t mean you will automatically or instantly make an impression with an audience. But it’s got to be beater than setting in a box somewhere waiting for that right deal and run the risk of no one ever seeing it.
The time you took looking for investors, distributors and the right deal you could be looking for an audience. Today those are your investors. They are the ones that will keep coming back to buy your product. Just like the relationships I built when I worked at The Shack. Those people came back. Back then customer services meant something if you know how to treat people. It’s the same with audiences.
What are you waiting for now?
If you want some FREE advice and ideas I suggest you go here and download the audio book you’ll find in the right hand margin entitled what else? FREE