Monday, 1 June 2015


Do you recall that story about Sisyphus, a thoroughly nasty piece of work by all accounts , who was forever condemned to push the same  heavy boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down again every time?
Imagine the encouraging call “Push, push Sisyphus” followed by “oops”.

It struck me that the 71% of people (unearthed by the Royal Society of Arts in research) who show up as dissatisfied and unhappy with their jobs probably feel like this Corinthian king. Bored and fed up.
What they are lacking is momentum. They’re living a Groundhog Day existence making simply no progress at all with every day feeling the same as the last.

In a recent Test Match at Lords both sides had players who took the match by the scruff of the neck and made something unexpected happen. We see it in markets where traders still bellow seductively about their wares - “lovely juice-oozing strawberries, strong gob-burning Cheddar”….

Yet in a world of self service and social media we just let things sit there in a rather docile way until big-data spreadsheets tell us what’s happened to sales.

Momentum? Remember the Olympics and the delicious demolition of cynics as momentum built to that dizzy climax of Day 8, August 4th when Britain won six gold medals and the good humour of the whole event spilt over into helpless disbelief - could life ever get better?

Momentum? The Ivy and The Chiltern Firehouse - restaurants that you can’t get into because the momentum of their reputation exceeds the reality of their offering.

Momentum? Game of Thrones or Oliver Twist - yes, Dickens was the original momentum builder and master of the cliff hanger.

I love the moment when, with a cunning mixture of promotion, packaging and chutzpah, momentum begins to unfold before you, because a nerve is struck and imagination is fired up. It’s that lighting the blue touch paper moment when the fizzing sound of ignition briefly precedes a bang.

Momentum is the most important aspect of marketing. You can have a great plan but if nothing happens you’re a loser. Marketing is littered by brilliant people who cautiously advanced but achieved no oomph. The skill is in in making something happen out there not looking good in here, the boardroom. To achieve momentum you need to inspire a following, get people trying your product or service and then telling others they like it.

Forget the bottom line. If you don’t have a top line you don’t have a business. Buy sales, give your product away or hire beautiful people to sample it. Flaunt it don’t intellectualise.

There’s a new book by Yuval Noah Harari called “Sapiens” and it’s about us, human beings, and why we’ve made it so big. He attributes it to our ability to tell stories, create visions and so on.

Great stories create momentum. Stories that involve people, engage and inspire them -  momentous stories.
And, remember, momentum is king.

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