I had to laugh during the past couple of weeks as my wife prepared for a big event. She kept a book-on-CD with her everywhere she went in order to be mentally prepared for the event. But she wasn’t taking an exam. She was studying-up for the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
I guess I can’t kid her too much, as she was apparently far from the only person obsessed with seeing the latest installment of the series. Half-Blood Prince is closing in on ½ billion dollars in ticket sales worldwide after its first two weeks of release.
Like my wife, I find the Harry Potter saga pretty inspirational. But what I find inspiration in has little to do with the story in the books. I find the real-world saga of Joanne (J.K.) Rowling to be about as amazing as the world she created in her books.
In some presentations, I show photos of now-famous folks who were at one time or another (usually often) rejected by “experts”. In the case of J.K. Rowling, she was a single mother, living on government assistance, diagnosed with clinical depression, writing in longhand a fantastical story about a boy wizard. When she had finished the book (and not owning a computer) she typed the 90,000-word manuscript herself on a standard typewriter.
Afterward, she faced multiple rejections in finding an agent (another set of “experts”) who would assist her in finding a publishing house.
After an agent finally took pity on her, the book was then rejected by 12 different publishing houses. Yes, the “brightest” folks in publishing had the book that would practically change their industry sitting in their hands for over a year. And no one wanted it. The experts said it wouldn’t sell.
Then, one small operation finally decided to take a shot on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and published 1,000 copies in June of 1997. (Half of the initial printing went to libraries!) The series has since sold over 400 million copies worldwide, and Rowling went from pubic assistance to billionaire (with a “B”) in less than 10 years.
J.K. Rowling’s story is one that you may want to consider the next time someone deems it necessary to tell you who you are, what you are, what you’re capable of, and especially, what you’re not capable of. Rejection isn’t the end of a journey unless you accept that it is. Those who persevere, succeed.
Don’t let others write your ending for you.
Every now and then, I read something that makes me laugh and makes me angry at the same time. It happened this week when I read an online news story from a northeastern newspaper. The story was about the expansion of a bank’s in-store branch network into a new location of the state.
I shouldn’t be as surprised as I still am that so many people who are paid to know something about banking still have no earthly idea of how (or if) in-store branches can be successful. I can forgive a reporter. He gets paid to write, not to necessarily know a great deal about the story he’s been assigned.
But some consultants (who are apparently paid to know of what they speak) seldom fail to amaze me. I’ll withhold the guy’s name to protect the clueless, but his statements are worth reading.
When asked if this (or any) bank could be successful with an in-store branch expansion, he offered, “Over the years, many banks have tried to open in-store branches, particularly inside grocery stores. But often those locations struggled to attract enough business to offset the costs of high rent and extended business hours….. In supermarkets it’s difficult to engage with customers. They come to shop for food. They may cash a check, but they’re not coming in to apply for a loan or open an account. It’s not on their radar.”
I guess that the fact that the bank in question has one of the larger in-store programs in the US and also consistently has one of the highest ROA’s in the industry isn’t compelling enough “proof”.
It makes my head spin. By this guy’s logic, banks shouldn’t bother running ads in newspapers or on billboards, or commercials on TV or radio, or do most any other form of advertising. Heck, folks obviously don’t have banking “on their radar” when reading, watching, or listening to any of these.
OF COURSE thousands of people a week do not walk into a grocery store thinking about banking. If they did, even that consultant could make in-store branches work.
But it’s the bankers who know their jobs are proactively marketing - engaging, educating, and motivating shoppers to consider their bank - who are making in-store branches (and programs) ever more important factors in a quickly-evolving industry.
Personal contact with thousands of potential customers each week is a tremendous asset. Heck, one day even the experts may grasp that fact.