Around the time of the invention of the automobile, there was famous article in Popular Mechanics that announced a new invention based on an old proverb.
According to the article, seen in the streets was a prototype of a horse pushing carriage from behind. Drais, the vehicle’s inventor, claimed that his invention had several great advantages.
First, the horse couldn’t run away. Second, the carriage was not exposed to the dust and grit generally thrown by the horse. Third, the conversation of the travels could not be overheard. And fourth, the fumes of tobacco did not inundate the travelers. Which actually made sense in theory, but in reality, it looked preposterous.
The invention was ass backwards, quite literally. And as a result, people were doing things in the wrong order, with the wrong emphasis, confusing cause and effect.
What’s amazing is, businesses still make this mistake. They believe thinking backwards can serve their strategic purposes, assuming the cart knows something the horse doesn’t.
I once had a client who had been in business for ten years, and finally decided it was time to do a complete website overhaul. Which would have been a smart investment, except for one minor problem. They didn’t know who they were. There was no brand. No purpose driven uniqueness. No distinctive set of expectations for which they were known.
And so, I told them, you’re putting the cart before the horse. Your website is merely a downstream spoke of a larger strategic wheel. You don’t need a new website, you need a basic understanding of your own identity. Because if you don’t know who you are, no amount of money will create materials explaining who you are.
The point is, implementing new marketing strategies, i.e., the cart, without adequate forethought or discussion around your identity, i.e., the horse, is a backwards approach to business.
Figure out who the hell you are first, and build out from there.
Make your mission more than a statement, and treat identity as the engine that drives you to greatness. Giddyup.
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Where are you putting the cart before the horse in your business?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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