Curious about my obsessions with bricks? Worried that I have lost my marbles? Please indulge me by allowing me to share a little bit about the loose brick theory. You may be vaguely familiar with this strategic concept. You may know and understand it and think it is old hat. Or you may have never heard it before and are wondering why I feel compelled to not only write about it, but to name my consulting practice after it. I first came upon this simple and elegant concept while studying marketing and economics in graduate school where the phrase was used in an Harvard Business Review article, Strategic Intent. Written by Hamel and Pralahad, it identified and explained key elements that contributed to the success of Japanese management vs. their American competitors including the fundamental idea that every market has an opening, and every competitor has a weakness, and to find a path to success you simply need to look for the loose brick in the wall. Over the years, I’ve adapted, morphed, and built on this concept to chart the success in markets ranging from financial services and medical publishing to legal services and non-profits. I am always on the lookout for loose bricks.
Ah, the outdoors. I love a good hike along the steep banks of the Wissahickon to escape the everyday grind of my urban lifestyle, but what surprises many people is my love of the other outdoor: billboards.
You may be thinking: Is he talking about billboards a la Burma Shave? Really? In this age of all things digital where Facebook and Google reign supreme?
Well, yes, without hesitation.
I encourage every marketer wanting to build a successful branding campaign to look to this “old school” media. Outdoor presents brand marketers a uniquely physical, persistent and unavoidable presence that is right in the face of the commuting customer which is unlike anything video or digital can offer.
And there are few things more satisfying than hearing a customer say, “I see those billboards everywhere.”