There are very few things in life that are certain. I mean, I’m pretty sure that Christmas Day is still December 25th. February will still follow January.
If you’re in the calendar business, then you’d think that years of there being a Bank Holiday on the first Monday in May wasn’t set to change. Calendars would get printed, retailers would place their orders, and they’d appear in shops around the country.
Until someone in June this year decides to change it for 2020.
Good reason. Late call.
No one is disputing that the 75th anniversary of VE Day is a very good thing for us to celebrate. It’s just probably surprising that no one thought about it before June.
What do you do?
When life gives you lemons
For most calendar businesses and printers, it was too late. Everything was already in print, if not in warehouses. Too late. For most of them, the best they could hope for would be a note wherever the calendars were going to be sold to point out the “mistake”.
As the alternative is trashing everything you’ve paid to be printed to be scrapped and starting again…well, it’s hardly appealing.
Most appear to be telling the change of date story. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
What would you do?
I can remember spending hours being walked through a business continuity plan when I worked for a big business. Every detail considered.
Most of us probably will never do one of those. And most of the things you’re going to face probably don’t need a plan in advance. Why?
Because we’re generally not talking about things we can imagine, no matter how terrible. They’re possibly quite trivial things. Not that I’m saying it trivial when a government official decides at late notice to change a bank holiday date, not when dates are your business.
But it’s a bit more trivial when the studio cat suddenly runs amok in the paint, and you’ve got a new design on the workbenches, and it only narrowly avoided it. Or maybe it didn’t.
People love jeopardy and unhappiness
According to Ian McEwan “literature thrives on conflict” and readers “want unhappiness in fiction”. Well, funnily enough, they want some similar things in content that you put out there.
If you’re thinking about a cat with painted paws running amok in a design studio, it’s a bit heart in mouth as you consider the possibilities for what could go wrong. There’s tension and jeopardy. A picture of the same cat sleeping peacefully and looking cute is nice, but not so memorable.
There’s a place for cute cat pictures. But there’s a place for honest, authenticity and a look at life behind the curtain. As big brands grow more remote, then smaller brands win on the things that make them human. And what’s more human than making mistakes, or doing slightly dumb things?
The story of your tensions, the jeopardy of just doing stuff every day and facing the unexpected, that’s the memorable version of what you do.
What’s on your lemonade stand?
Look, I’m not saying go warts and all and reveal every rubbish thing that happens. But you know those things that you think “we’ll laugh about this someday”? Well, maybe your followers will help you feel more like laughing about it now when you’ve shared it with them, and you’ve had some conversations about it.
Some will laugh and point at you. But others will perhaps laugh with you, or share similar stories, or helpful pointers on how not to do it again. The thing is your business will be all the more human and relatable because you did. And back to the old adage about people buy from people. The more relatable your story, the more people can really make their mind up about you, even if they never actually meet you.
So, what lemons have there been in your business that you can turn into lemonade?
One final thing
Don’t forget to mark the change of the bank holiday on your calendar when you get it next year. Otherwise, we’ll look forward to a raft of content in early May of tales of people wondering why no one else was off on the Monday. Hey, it might mean the roads are quieter for the rest of us on the Friday! Every cloud… 😉