The originator principle

My recent work, partially driven by consolidation and having worked for all the major radio groups, has diversified into sectors I probably wouldn’t have considered were it not for financial need and a desire to stretch myself. In many respects though it’s been a relief to engage in proper marketing even if the goalposts have shifted since I last found myself actively selling.

The biggest development is of course with regard to social media, search marketing, online in general. It was a steep learning curve and one I’m still attempting, with crampons and ice-picks. That I am doing it in a sector that I’d not actually encountered until 14 months ago added to the challenge. Thus I am abandoned in the world of hair loss and a radical, innovative solution – Scalp MicroPigmentation.

My involvement began with content creation and copy-checking, putting together the foundations of the company website. It was a useful way to get a grip of the terminology and an understanding of what it does for the recipient. I’ve always found it difficult to ‘sell’ something I don’t believe in so this was a valuable grounding, the reasons to believe.

This nascent industry had crept under my radar and that of many others but to those who have sought it out it has provided a transformation in both their appearance and confidence. Part of my role is to piece these stories together and reach out to the wider – and balder – community.

Consequently, I am now managing a range of social media streams and getting involved in content generation and marketing. It’s a brave new world.

One result of managing spend across social media is that you encounter unlikely trolling. A response to one of our recent posts about our pioneering scalp micropigmentation treatment was a message that simply said ‘Prefer to use the company that invented it’.

Naturally I’ve heard worse but it made me think of the role occupied by originators when a product was popularised elsewhere. Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player or the mobile ‘phone for example, they may have had a claim on the original ‘windows’ operating system but we all know who made money from that.

This is a service industry though so the inventors would have a claim if it was they who had perfected the treatment or if they still practiced it even. The originators could have their prize if they had not alienated everyone they employed, abandoned business partners and franchisees, let their best employees leave. We would all bow down to their invention had they not put it in the hands of the unskilled and de-motivated, their trust in people who turn up only for the wage.

It’s a common problem for companies that expand without underpinning their principles or possibly failing to have any. I have worked in many similar places. It appears to be the British way: a lack of management training and an eye only for the sales graph. When you only want the numbers it’s hard to focus on the people – whether they’re the staff or the customers. This is where most companies, whatever their sector, get it wrong.

For listed companies the issues are compacted by having to constantly feed a voracious group of shareholders and investors, some of which may be institutions that have no grasp of the industry they’ve invested in. Much less have they any care for it beyond the yield they expect it to deliver. Britain is beholden to the markets, stats that are driven by a requirement for constant growth. It is unsustainable, we don’t have industries that can consistently produce double-digit percentage profit increases.

The originators so often sell out. Mr McDonald didn’t see the rapid franchising of his brand – he took the quick buck. In music the pioneers are rarely the ones who reap the riches. Most people remember Elvis but not the hordes of blues-pioneers who cleared his path to success, the same would be true of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and others.

We praise them (as I did Bowie here) for having the commercial nous to popularise a form of music, to take the blueprint and weave it in a way that it entrances the masses. Often we don’t even see the join. I went out of my way to praise The Heavy many years ago without knowing that the basis of their near-hit, How You Like Me Now?, was a sample from an act I’d never heard of. No-one notices the originators if someone else does a better job with ‘the product’.