Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honest Questions Deserve Honest Answers

Today I spent the day in Manhattan at the offices of Strawberry Frog, a 21st century, marketing firm which has built its brand equity on sparking "cultural movements" for its clients. There, they decry dinosaur marketers with traditional approaches to messaging and channel saturation. No more TV spots for them about Mr. Whipple. The Frogs at this lily pad are looking for something much more about a grassroots movement.

No, Local Motors was not looking for its way in a Madison Avenue boardroom. We know that we have a cultural movement happening, but Scott Goodson (Prez and Founder of SF) and I were introduced by a major auto OEM head and he thought that we should get to talking. So we did.

By the way, to their credit the folks at the Frog know how to order an amazing lunch of Sushi, and I was most grateful for their incredible generosity and hospitality.

In fact, Scott, took 2+ hours out of his day to talk cars, LM, Strawberry Frog, and many other things. What a guy. We covered the lion share of our company story and looked at some images. He got LM quickly.

Toward the end of the meeting he threw a fastball and suddenly said, "I get it, I like it, but....... I think that you are missing a higher purpose. I mean, if LM didn't exist, would anyone care? I mean it isn't like the world needs more cars."

Naturally, I parried with the expected answers repeating that he was wrong, and that LM was about diminishing US Oil end-use in transportation, creating a new auto business, sustainable jobs, sustainable cars, etc., etc. But he stopped me and said, "Don't misunderstand me, I know that you and your community have passion, but really, do you transcend?"

He then said that all of the guts of a transcendant experience were inside the LM pitch, but that it still did not strike him like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. I was pretty hacked. I mean, we are the revolution, right? We are doing everything the way it ought to be done, right?

Unbelievably magnetic designs,
sourced globally,
developed professionally,
educating and being open along the way,
built quickly,
offered locally,
scarcity defined,
a true car experience,
meaningful local opportunity that feels like a reward instead of a job,
vacation in your own home town,
the birth of your own legend,
the last great project between a father and son before college,
the reward for a life spent working the line 15 hours a day,
Nothing OEM,
Everything NEW.

This is our promise, yes. 100% Local Motors.

But when I sat back and thought about whether we had crafted that message into a digestible format for the world to internalize and to carry with them, I had to answer, "No."

We get pieces, and I am proud of what we have accomplished, but today's time with Strawberry Frog reminded me with a slap in the face: we can never stop preaching the message and refining the gospel. It is time for some of that good ol' fashioned, brain-smoking, theme rejuvination and I am psyched.

I called the team on the way back from NYC, and we all agreed that the time has come for an update.

Watch out world, Local Motors is off the chain!


Robin Spinks said...

Interesting....I am not a car junkie so for me LM is not about the cars either. I could care less about a cool car. I was sold on the process - that is what is different. And especially today when the big 3 are in such trouble because of their overblown process. How can we sell a new process to the public??? GM tried to do that with the Saturn when it first was introduced, so we need not make their mistakes. mmmm.....we need to ponder this angle....

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