What would Bruce Lee do?

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once,
but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
Bruce Lee

The greatest icon of martial arts and the greatest martial artist of the 20th century; an amazing athlete who possessed genuine superstar charisma—these are just some of the words people use to describe Bruce Lee—a key figure of popular culture of the 20th century. (UFC President Dana White considers Bruce Lee as “the father of Mixed Martial Arts.” Alongside Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee is cited as a major influence by many MMA champions such as Wanderlei Silva, Emilianenko Fedor, Frank Shamrock & Tito Ortiz, to mention but a few.)

One of the Lee’s better known martial arts moves was a technique called “The One Inch Punch,” an explosive short range punch by which he could deliver a devastating blow yet have his fist travel a mere one inch (2.54 cm) in distance before striking an opponent. (Go ahead, Google it.) Put simply, Lee understood that you need to Control Your Focus to Maximize Your Power.

Just about right now you may start thinking, “Why is he telling me all of this?” Because I am about to introduce to you a modern day Bruce Lee-like marketing master, who could help you add the extraordinary power of an explosive, One Inch Punch-like move to your marketing repertoire.

Remarkable. That’s what I first thought when I finished reading The Micro-Scripts Rules by Bill Schley, as he has a gift for discussing modern-day marketing’s challenges in marvellously authentic & amusing ways. For example, did you know that 5 words can beat 5,000? After I finished reading The Micro-Scripts Rules, I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with Bill and he graciously agreed to conduct a quick interview for sneezr.ca.

Jenan: Bill, how did you chose your niche?

Bill: I think it was chosen for me back in the 80’s when I started as a copywriter at the legendary Ted Bates Advertising in New York. They were the people that invented the USP, the unique selling proposition, which basically teaches: With all the messages being sent around, people only remember one thing about your brand. So make that one thing the most unique, important and memorable idea you can find. Now that was over 30 years ago, before there were 500 billion messages going by per second like today. Bates gave us USPs we’ve remembered for 75 years. Like Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand, and Get a Piece of the Rock. I came to Ted Bates thinking I was going to write funny cat food commercials. My boss straightened my out on day one and said: great advertising is about the great idea that can move millions of people with just a few words. It’s not about comedy. He had invented “Vapor Action” for Halls cough drops. He said, when you experience the power of turning a brand from an unknown to a 50 share in two years, so that one out of every times someone in America reaches over the counter for a cough drop and they choose a Halls, an idea like that is the most thrilling, creative, sexy thing you can do in advertising. It’s what they’re paying us to do.

It began a lifelong fascination and appreciation for the immense power of the big selling idea, and what it means to differentiate something in the mind. We coined the DSI, the Dominant Selling Idea, with our first book, Why Johnny Can’t Brand– to update people’s thinking on USPs. But Micro-Scripts turned out to be the missing link. Micro-Scripts are what the greatest communicators do to verbalize the USP so t people not only remember it, they love to repeat it. USP’s alone are great strategy. But a Micro-Script turns “The insurance company you should trust” into, The Good Hands People. Micro-Scripts show you how to tell the whole story in about 8 words or less.

Jenan: In your book you write about the fear that people tend to have about committing to one big thing in their communication. How did you overcome that fear?

Bill: It’s like being a pilot in the clouds—you have to trust your instruments. In this case the most counter-intuitive law of branding, which says the narrower you focus, the wider and farther and deeper your message goes. The simplest message wins. You have to believe in this wholeheartedly because doing it is scary. You have to be willing to sacrifice all the “little darlings,” the myriad features and benefits you want to talk about, and focus on one thing you’re going to “win the gold medal in,” one thing you’re going to stand for. Because when you spew everything at them in a barrage, it literally can’t penetrate a single mind. But , when you put all the wood behind an arrow, you can. What you must realize is that once you’re known as the world champion of one important attribute–say “Safety” for Volvo cars, then you get associated with all those other features and attributes you want–like quality engineering, caring about your customers, solid construction, durability, you name it. So business people have to trust in this marketing paradox, cast off all the surrounding junk, and stand for the sharpest idea they can. Once they commit, it’s like magic. They get focused and creative and energized like never before. And their people do to.

Jenan: What perception do you want your customers to hold when they think of your business?

Bill: That we care about finding the truth, that finding the right key to put in the lock matters greatly to us. We also want people to know we are the best in the world at the simple thing we do, what I now call Micro-Scripts and Micro-Script marketing: Telling your stories in miniature like micro-chips.

Jenan: Any advice for someone considering starting a niche business? (I often refer to this as the “If I started today…” segment.)

Bill: Nothing is more important for you, than your investors, than your employees, than your customers than being able to tell your story in a one short sentence (two at the most). Unless your value proposition is that obvious and that focused and simple, you need to go back to the drawing board. You need to be able to tell investors: “Our home banking software is so simple, it’s called HomeATM. Our sweetener is made from sugar so it tastes like sugar. We are quite simply, THE low cost airline. We make the only shoes in the world that breathe through the sole.” If they could do this for the Bible (here it is in one sentence according to a great teacher—”Do unto to others as you’d have others do to you,” all the rest is commentary) then no excuses, anyone.

Jenan: Thank you Bill and all the best until next time!
Dec 18, 2010