Thursday, 23 July 2009 06:57

Interaction and change......

Written by  Sterling Ball
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Remember I warned you that I'm sort of a slug on the blogging side.  I still find it kind of pompous...Hey read me!....

But it is good for me to sit down and try to organize whats banging around in my coconut besides that voices I hear and the hamster running on the rusty wheel! Ok, Im not going to organize...its going to be stream of thought before the first cup of joe.
Technology has become the new crack cocaine that wears a Nehru Jacket...We pridogy'ed, AOL'ed, My Spaced, Facebooked, and now we are Twittering....One has to undersatnd that on the tech side social trends and habits aren't pendilums but really fast metronomes.  Big corporations of old media are suckers at a county fair because they make billionaires out of young social engineers that are laughing all the way to the bank on the way to the Gulfstream. They just sold a green banana for 18 billion dollars and the company has never made a dime. They are always late to the party and always pay too much.  They end up taking write downs faster than a tax increase and then create spin to justify why they paid 4 billion for Skype or a gazillion for the new and latest and greatest connector of the population that has zero loyalty.
They buy pet rocks. The problem is the higher and bigger you get the harder it is to know what is happening on the ground.  Innovation always starts on the ground.

What the hell does this have to do with guitar strings and Music Man? Sort of everything.  We sell something that is old world....(if you believe in this era that a product category that was born in around 1948 and didn't gain traction until the early 60's is old world)  We use these tools and technology to communicate our message...Tell our story.  We also use it to make sure that we are on the ground. It is also a good gut check for me to make sure that it isn't work talking to our customers.  The day it's work I'm out of here . Aloha, Baby.

In business today the interaction that we have with our customer is in my mind a huge asset.  Critics say that we waste our time.  I have a few mantra's and almost first is the I want to get as close to my customer so I can smell their breath.  Joined at the hip.  Why? Because I still share their passion.  Because I get direct feedback on what the diehards are thinking and playing. As a result we have come up with tons of products and not come up with others that if we were in the ivory tower polishing our bitchen button we might have otherwise. The biggest thing to understand is that it isnt a gps that can drop you off at the bank.  As I've said on the forum it is cayenne pepper...a little perfects and too much is inedible.

I've had to learn how to react and how the written word can be taken so many different ways.  Some use those cheesy emoticons...I wont use them and I still haven't used an ATM. Like everything else in my life I learned on the fly.  If I knew then.....

People come and go on the forum.  There are long termers that really are friends and nearly family.  We know when their cats sick , their dogs lost, and when real tragedy or joy is in their lives. We share in the passing of parents and loved ones and the arrival of the next generation of guitarists. It is just like being in a bar or at a party....there are loud guys, repeaters, sensitive ones and my least favorite..PSV's Personal Space Violators.  These are some fo my categories for drinkers too. When I run into a forumite and know their guitar or their kids name the are shocked.  It's called credibility.

Those kids of today call it 'street cred'. In my day it was walking the walk. It's funny to see big companies try to buy credibility.  The kids will take their offers and laugh behind their backs.  These companies are marketing to generations that got target marketed starting with their baby formula. They have the highest level of skepticism and the most efficient BS meter. They also have the shortest attention span in the world...if you can't grab them in the five seconds you get you are toast and you are better off burning thousand dollar bills naked in a lotus postion. Teachers and Doctors all it ADD and medicate. I think it is a immunity from oversaturation.

In the old days you used a dealer and the print media to tell your story to the public.  It worked pretty good. You used international business to bury your mistakes.  If a product went cold you pull the wool over the eyes of the europeans for at least a year....You know that there are still companies that dont understand that the word is on real time?

I decided print was dead about 8 years ago.  I backed off and spent the dough telling our story directly.  The dealer and magazines that were once conduits became the lead blanket the dentist puts on your chest for xrays.

So we use technology to tell our story.  We use it to show the public the future of our company and the things we hold sacred. We use it to allow musicians the opportunity to post their music and videos.  We use You Tube to tell you how to fix or operate things...or show you the latest video of an artist of ours. We use technology to provide the logistics for our two mobile stages that travel the country giving thousands of bands an opportunity to play live. We really use technology to change and evolve.

Ill end with the word change....Change is the only creator of opportunity both good and bad. Nothing ever happens when you do nothing.  Imagine that? The problem with change is that the bigger you get the slower you change and that is the beauty of the system.   The process of success breeds detachment and indifference to the customer and product you are selling.  That's what creates opportunity for the smaller hungrier band or company.  We are only here because My Dad really believed that people wanted choice over their strings and Leo Fender and the Gibson guys didn't.  They weren't on the ground....my Dad was and I never forget it.