Beach Car Park

I don’t know if you have any strong feelings about car parks. But I do.

If I see a packed car park at my local beach, my heart sinks.

I only live a block away from the beach so I don’t drive to the beach. It’s not about getting a car park.

It’s about the fact that if the car park is full, there’ll be lots of people at the beach, and I enjoy the beach more when I have it all to myself, or there’s just one or two people there. Selfish, I know. Don’t judge me.

But the reverse is true when I go to church. If I see a full car park, my heart leaps. I enjoy church more when it’s packed to the rafters.

But this is not a blog post about car parks, it’s about venue theory.

Venue theory explains why given the same stimulus (a full car park), my response can be so radically different.

Venue theory says success happens somewhere. It’s about locating the most viable environment for success. It also helps explain why perfectly rational human beings will pay eleventy squillion dollars to watch a movie and eat popcorn in a theatre when they could see the same movie and eat popcorn at home for free.

More importantly, it explains how our customers arbitrage venue for value. In other words, it describes why certain things take off and certain things don’t (and never will).

And the fascinating insight is that venue has a lot more to do with success than creativity or marketing or technology – or a hundred other things you might think of.

Yesterday, one of my friends rang me with a stock tip. He told me to shift my money out of one stock I had, and put it into the stock he was suggesting. Today, I thought I’ll just check how the share market is doing, and in particular my investment in this one stock.

I was relieved to see that my stock had gone up 7% in a day. I wish it did that everyday – my money would double every fortnight! So I thought I’d check on the stock he had advised me to put my money into… it had gone up by more than 73% in a day. The only difference in my return on investment was not creativity or marketing or technology, it’s just that one venue was ten times more productive than another.

There’s a parable in the bible about a sower who sowed seeds. He did the same activity, with the same resources in 4 different venues. But only 1 venue proved successful. Venue was the difference between no result at all – and a return on investment of 10,000% in the same season.

Think about it. If I write something in my journal, the only person likely to ever read it is me.

But over four thousand people have read my blog.

Same activity. 4,000 times more successful. Venue is the only difference.

Would you make a small change to your venue if it could make you 4,000 times more successful?

Even on my blog, venue matters to leverage my success. I’ve setup my blog so that every post is also promoted via email, twitter and facebook simultaneously – in other words, with every post I am performing in 4 different venues at the same time.

Most of my blog readers, read posts on an iPhone or an Ipad. The number of people who are reading my blog on a desktop is miniscule. Unlike ten years ago, the desk is the least popular physical venue for my content now – many readers tell me they are on a train, or even in bed, when they read my blogs, books and magazine apps.

Right now, only 3% of digital magazines are downloaded on to the Android platform. So if you want success in digital magazines, and your magazine is not on Apple’s Newsstand, you’re in real trouble.

10 times as many apps are downloaded every day as are songs. So even if you are a musician, you can have a lot more success putting your music inside an app in the app store, than putting your song on iTunes.

Where is your success? It may be worth spending a few minutes alone in a beach car park thinking about that…. Hint: the venue may have less to do with where you are comfortable and more to do with where your customers are comfortable i.e. where they are already spending their free time.

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