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Doing the Things That Don’t Scale

By Joanne Jacobs

A few weeks ago, I found an old box full of papers. I had actually forgotten what was in there – but as I opened it, memories came flooding back. There were photos, letters and even poems written dozens of years ago. In amongst the yellowing pages, something different caught my eye. A small piece of plastic sticking up out of the side of an airmail envelope. What could it be? Unfurling the letter from its envelope, a ziplock bag fell to the floor. A flash of gold caught my eye … and then I remembered. It was a lock of hair from a friend I had not seen in 20 years. And in that moment, story after story lit up my mind. There were those funny turns of phrase. Snippets of conversation. So many great moments. This was a money can’t buy experience. Something deeply personal, and yet also something that we can all understand. It’s the kind of thing that every new business craves to create for its customers. Just think of that one business that goes above and beyond for you. It inspires loyalty and trust – and loyalty and trust are also money can’t buy experiences. When we launch something new, whether it is a product or an entire business, we dig for the money can’t buy experience. In reality, most money can’t buy experiences are difficult to scale, but they can create massive impact. This campaign for a TV series on vampires is a great example. They are printed on paper that burns in the sunlight (just like vampires do – just watch Buffy). And while there’s an overhead when it comes to creating, managing and replacing these vampiric ads, there’s no doubt that they left a lasting impression. https://youtu.be/8eKkPN6imE8 The question you’ve got to ask yourself is not what can you do to scale your business. It’s almost the opposite – what can you create that doesn’t scale but creates a lasting memory. A deeply personal, shareable moment? In the early stages of your product or startup’s life, you have the opportunity to create transformational experiences that are infinitely more difficult to make when you’ve reached scale.  It’s a chance to learn and to create a platform for growth.

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