The Captain Blood Rule | Be Real Do Better – The Small Business Marketing Show, Ep. 23

The Captain Blood Rule | Be Real Do Better - The Small Business Marketing Show, Ep. 23It’s a sound piece of advice, for business or at home, and it comes straight out of the pages of swashbuckling tale written by Rafael Sabatini, originally published in 1922.

The book I’m referring to is “Captain Blood,” and the “rule”  is something the main character says that has stuck with me since the moment I first read it:

“You may define our position as you please. But I’ll remind you that the nature of a thing is not changed by the name you give it.”

In other words, you can call yourself – or label something – whatever you want. But that won’t prevent that thing’s true colors, true character, true culture from showing through eventually. And that matters when it comes to building sustainable and scaleable relationships.

It brings to mind another well-known quote, from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Note that it’s not, We are what we repeatedly say, but what we repeatedly do.

You can call yourself whatever you want. But you’ve still got to do it. You’ve got to be that person, that business, that “trust” and “service.” And if the name (label, slogan, gimmick) and the thing’s true nature don’t line up, that will be revealed soon enough.

“The nature of a thing is not changed by the name you give it.”

There’s another important side to this. And it’s an unfortunate trap that snags many (most?) small-to-midsize businesses.

When it comes to marketing, why sell yourself short by using the same old tired advertising cliches, jargon, gimmicks, stereotypes and nonsense we hear and see from so many others (click here if you want clarification on what I mean by that)? Why not tell your own story, share your own truth, go your own way? Why don’t we see more of that?

I believe it’s because we’re mostly afraid of stand out. Which is rather ironic when it comes to marketing.

We say our businesses are different, but we don’t actually want to look or sound different. That’s terrifying to most of us. So we “call ourselves” the same kinds of things as every other marketer, and use tired old terms that simply don’t work anymore in creating connection with real human people.

What I’ve just described is the Captain Blood Rule working in reverse. Here it is both ways:

a) You can call yourself something, but if you’re really not that thing, reliably and over a sustained period of time, it’ll be revealed, and you’ll have to work twice as hard for half as much.

Or …

b) You can have a good thing going, a really terrific culture, personality, product or service, but if you devalue it by naming it (advertising it) with the same old empty nonsense as everyone else, you’ll have to work twice as hard for half as much.

Most people I see fit into the second group. And we’re there, in my opinion and experience, because we’re afraid to just be ourselves, in work and at home.

But Captain Peter Blood didn’t care. The system failed him, so he went rogue. He became a pirate. He did his own thing his way, gallantly and with honor.

It drove the copycat follow-alongs absolutely mad.

By no means am I suggesting you start singing “yo-ho-ho” and start shopping for gently-used cannons. What I am suggesting is that you raise a flag more true to who you and your business actually are, tell your own story and go your own way.

Remember:

The nature of a thing is not changed by the name you give it.

And …

We are what we repeatedly do.

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2 Responses to “The Captain Blood Rule | Be Real Do Better – The Small Business Marketing Show, Ep. 23

  • Hi Kevin, just listened to Episode 23, The Captain Blood Rule, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

    This is not lost on us. In our service business we expend a lot of energy delivering quality results for a more than reasonable price. We have grown every year for 10 years now with no signs of slowing down. Our tag line is “Expect the Best”. You may know it because you created it many years ago for us.

    It is not necessarily been our key to success though. We spend time to get to know our customers and understand what is important to them. Although we do have main stream prescribed services at set prices, we get to learn our customers and customize the deliverables based on their preferences over time. During the process of understanding what is important to them, we get to know them and who they are. The service then becomes personal and more meaningful to them, and us. If we make a mistake, and we do periodically, they are more than likely to overlook it and let us know next visit.

    As you are aware, any given day can be totally nuts at our business, but in all of that chaos, it can be a very enjoyable and enriching experience. When you observe customers that truly appreciate the total experience and are more than happy to share that with you, it is still exhausting but makes it all worth while.

    • Hi Rick! Your business is a great example for any of us who wish to talk what we walk. You’ve always been about the best example of that I’ve seen, and I’m grateful to know you!

      Kevin

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