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Out of Home’s American Spirit and a Modern Day Hero

Relentless Pursuit of Perfection in OOH

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American Spirit

In honor of the upcoming Independence Day this week, I thought I would give a shout out to all the creative, hard working American entrepreneurs out there who have helped this country to become the biggest economic engine in the world.  If Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton and several others were still around, I think they would be proud. After all each of them were entrepreneurs first and countrymen second (or is it the other way around).  

I stumbled on a tweet by Inc Magazine the other day that provided a quick overview of Steve Jobs’ 5 rules of design.   Hard to argue that Steve Jobs and Apple are not a perfect recent example of the enduring American spirit, right?  Here is the tweet as well as my attempt to summarize what the Inc article is saying:

Steve Jobs was a master of creating products  that functioned beautifully. His 5 rules of design.

“Steve Jobs was a master of creating products that functioned beautifully.  He devoted most of his life to making Apple a leader in innovation. His vision inspired its most iconic designs, from the iMac to the iPhone.  For Jobs, design went far beyond what a product looks like. “Design is how it works,” he told the New York Times in 2003.”  

Here are his top 5 rules:

  1. Simplicity.  A great product is one that is easy to use.  
  2. Friendliness.  The product should be pleasant to look at and pleasant to use.  
  3. Minimalism.  Keep only what is essential.  
  4. Precision.  Strive for perfection, nothing short of it.
  5. Focus.  Paying attention to what really matters, ignoring everything else.   

Here is the thing:  I read this quick piece and thought to myself, we in the outdoor advertising business probably aren’t the most innovative group out there, are we?  We usually stick a generic monopole in the ground, put a head on it, dress it up with a brown apron and call it a day. If we get really fancy, we might do a backlit imprint and perhaps leave the apron off.  But if we are honest with ourselves, do we really strive to design and execute the most beautiful sign we can? And more to the point, is our product the sign or is our product an advertising program that produces significant results for our customers?

  1.  Simplicity.  We have paid lip service to the mantra make it easier to buy for decades, but couldn’t it still be easier?  Anyone ever try the printing service called MOO? 5 clicks and you have fantastic business cards coming to you the next day.  With the right tools couldn’t a newbie to outdoor advertising select from a few simple design templates, select where they want to be (or what audience they want to target), select campaign dates and then let the rest happen automatically?  That’s simplicity!  
  2. Friendliness.  How many of us check in with our customer 20 days after campaign launch to make sure they are happy?
    3. Minimalism. How about we become militaristic when copy with more than 7 words is proposed?
    4. Precision.  How about the copy goes up on the exact date that is specified, comes down similarly and proof of performance is online and instantaneous?
    5. Focus. We help our clients sell more stuff, period. If what we are doing is not helping their business, we need to go back to the drawing and figure out whether it’s the right location, it’s enough coverage or its the right copy.  

In any event, just food for thought on how OOH might be able to apply some of this modern day American hero’s relentless pursuit of perfection to our business.

Wishing y’all a Happy 4th this week.

Jim Johnsen

Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC







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