I thought it might be fun to go through developing a Luxe Brand while the process is incubating. A business plan and its founder(s) should be flexible in aniticipation to bringing a product to the people.
I’ve recently decided to exit from the CLIENT > VENDOR relationships and (B2B) business model is imminent. It was frustrating to have clients challenge my sound advice and detail projects with unexpected and often stupid twists and turns. It is likened to raising a child or a teenager, I suppose. That’s my beef.
A wise man once said:
“Results are the ultimate guru.”
What he meant by this was: ‘You have to make millions first then, everyone will want to know how you did it. You will have earned all the respect you need to have people hanging on your every word. Then and only then will you be able to set your price.”
He is exactly right.
So, where is that amazing client? The client that comes in with a wheelbarrow of cash with a steel suitcase for you to carry all your winnings to the bank.
That CLIENT doesn’t exist but maybe they do.
THE STORY (part 1)
One afternoon, a disagreement ensued between a client and I. The conversation was about which location her business might to go next. Her aspiration was to move from Queens to Staten Island to a new outlet mall opening up there. My vision is/was to go into Manhattan next and open a few pop-up stores for the summer. The business owner thinks Staten Island will be the next big thing. I think the hills you can see there is where we’ve been throwing our garbage for the last 40 years.
I’m sure there there is a viability to her claim about Staten Island in some distant parallel universe but, let’s not mistake that the foot traffic is no where compared to being in Manhattan.
Baffled, my only conclusion was that on a deeper psychological level this business owner is “crisis oriented.” These types are just a danger onto themselves in business. Where there is no imminent danger yet they invent something or unconsciously throw something in the way. Then, like a bat out of hell, they leap to their own rescue.
(See Neurochemical: the DRD4 R7 http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/568455 )
Seek resolutions to avoid ambiguity
Ask for expert advice
Follow preplanned procedures
Downplay possibility of crisis
Focus on actual experience
Seek ad hoc solutions with multiple options
Distrust outside advice
Avoid taking action and tend to delay decisions
A Harvard Neuroscientist recently quipped about this human default pattern in self-defeating behavior. It’s pretty fascinating The study observed very young children.
The child that wants a toy and then throws it in the floor and begins to cry. The parent picks up the toy and gives it back to the child. The child plays a little more and throws the toy again and cries again. The parent picks up the toy again. The child throws toy and cries, then the parent picks up the toy, and so on. You get the picture.
The behavioral scientists boiled this phenomenon down to a concise, single-serving bit: “We would rather master disappointment than seek fulfillment.”
You can easily say: “Well, it’s very young children… What do you expect?” The study continues showing that this default pattern “mastering disappointment” continues directly through adolescence right into adulthood.
Wow. I have to say when I read articles like this, they rock my worldview. So, what am I doing in this situation myself? Well, mastering disappointment, I suppose. Haha. It’s funny but not really funny. 😀
THE STORY (part 2)
As this business owner was attempting to rationally justify the viability and success of the move to Staten Island, I was on my mobile pulling up a visual graphic chart which would show the substantial difference in foot traffic between Staten Island and Manhattan. this is the one:
Unconvinced by the above graphic taken from the NYC.gov website, this business owner insisted that the St. George area in Staten Island will be the next big thing—if only I would just believe. I wanted to start hammering nails into my eyeball sockets to ease the pain.
Somewhat intrigued by the lack of critical and accurate foot traffic information on the web I stumbled upon a very interesting article on the NYMag.com website.
Apparently, a team from Columbia University with HiTech GPS and Sonar equipment scourged the nyc waterways and listed some of the intriguing things they’ve found. Among them were the remnants of an amazing amusement park called Dreamland.
My mind was blown. I have never heard about this from anyone I’ve ever known, including my father. Steeplechase, yes. Luna Park, yes. Dreamland, nothing, nada, not at all.
Dreamland was an epic 15 acre, $3.5M adult playground built in Coney Island, Brooklyn in 1904 (that’s $90.3M today)!
At night, 1,000,000 light bulbs lit the shoreline of Coney Island, Brooklyn which could clearly be seen from Manhattan. To give you a sense of scale, the White Tower was 100 feet higher than the parachute jump which still stands on Coney Island. Dreamland was burned down to the ground just 7 years later.
Dreamland was a “mortality” themed park. They had some insane attractions and happenings. For instance, opening day, the very first run of the roller coaster (Rough Rider) which encircled the park was manually operated by a driver. The driver was going too fast sending the last two cars reeling of the tracks and crashing on Surf Avenue killing 4 passengers. You would think that they would shut down the ride. Not at Dreamland!
They continued the ride without interruption. Months later, you could ride the roller coaster and the driver would slow down showing passengers where the accident happened. It was a hit!
This makes me think: Here we are at the turn of the 21st century and “We don’t know how to have fun anymore!” Boy oh boy, those were the days.
Then it hit me like a freight train:
1. What a great name for an ice cream brand.
2. What if you ate an ice cream bar and didn’t
know what exactly what flavor to expect?
“Take a freaking chance!”
3. What if one of the flavors had so much
cayenne pepper in it that it actually burned?
a. Or with sooooo much lemon that your
mouth watered involuntarily.
4. What about if it had a little prize in each box.
5. What about a little booklet with a brief
history of the forgotten “Dreamland.”
6. Brooklyn Brands are hot right now.
One thing is for sure: “We don’t know how to have fun anymore!”
Yep. You laugh now but, these are the type of big ideas that actually work in the marketplace. In fact, I’ll go a few steps further and do a series of Neurochemical excerpts showing you how and why developing a Luxe Brand is far easier that doing a Mid-Lo priced brand. This Neurochemical excerpt will be a series of three parts.
The attractions at Dreamland had all these antiquated early 20th Century names. Wow! It is a pre-packed, ready-to-go, built in ice cream brand with a hidden Brooklyn history.
• White Tower
• Hell Gate
• Fighting Flames
• Rough Rider
• Midget City
• Trick Animal
• Haunted House
• Circus Sideshow
• Lilliputian Village
• Great Divide
• Little Lady
• Perfect Man
• Incubator Baby
“Wait, WHAT?… Incubator Baby?”, the Dreamland chef laughed out loud.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The Incubator Baby Incubator exhibit started in 1904 in Dreamland as an attraction which resembled a normal maternity ward: babies, nurses providing care, a doctor to look over everything. The only difference was that one side of the ward was glass, and all day long people paid their dime to view the babies. Back then, the incubator for preemies was an untested and new technology. Hospitals hadn’t come to approve of their use yet. Dr. Martin A. Couney was a pioneer in the medical field and Dreamland provided a way of promoting and proving proof that incubators would work to some 130,000 visitors each weekend.
Again, the “Mortality” theme comes into play.
THE STORY (part 3)
How hard can developing this brand be?
So, it’s a Brooklyn based product. Brooklyn has been fetching premium priced products for some time now. Dreamland will be a 5-7oz, circular bar on a stick. The asking retail price of each bar is $7-8.
Within a half hour the brand image, value proposition, packaging, business plan began form in my head. I asked the business owner if a partnership would be in order. It was. All they had to do was create the product. I waited 3 and 1/2 months to see and taste it. Nothing.
Over 1/4 of a year had passed and I now had a presentation, business plan, seed investors, a logo, packaging, manufacturers and producers, distributors, research, a target market, optimal retailers for this Dreamland – luxe brand but no product. Apparently, you can’t sell and empty box in this market.
The business owner felt envy and resentment that I was moving quickly and quietly through all the stages of bringing a new product to market and purposely hadn’t produced anything despite me mentioning this on many occasion.
I went out to Coney Island for inspiration. The only remnants of Dreamland that still exist today is the Coney Island Side Show and this little note . Sometimes, it is called the Dreamland Side Show.
I needed a great chef. Then as fast and as inspired as everything else had come, I thought of Paul.
Paul has always been a rock star. We both grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn playing in rock bands. It was the cool thing to do back then. The girls dug it.
Spyro has been in close contact with Paul for all these years. They had a radio program (now defunct) on Heritage Radio called “Eating Disorder. Spyro asked me to do an episode on Social Media a while ago. Paul co-interviewed me. We’ve reconnected and have been friends on Facebook ever since.
I reached out to him there and we met and I shared the things I’ve learned about Dreamland. He was blown away. He remembered a novel he has in his library called “Dreamland.”
“Do you think it is the same place?” He asked.
“Yep, my guess is, more than likely.” I said.
When midnight mists are creeping,
And all the land is sleeping,
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.
Lo, warriors, saints, and sages,
From out the vanished ages,
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away.
The blaze of noonday splendour,
The twilight soft and tender,
May charm the eye: yet they shall die,
Shall die and pass away.
But here, in Dreamland’s centre,
No spoiler’s hand may enter,
These visions fair, this radiance rare,
Shall never pass away.
I see the shadows falling,
The forms of old recalling;
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.
by Lewis Carroll