Warning: Could Second Album Syndrome Erode Your Small Business Growth?

Small Business Growth

Mention the name Alanis Morrisette and what comes to mind?

I bet it’s her internationally acclaimed, Grammy winning album Jagged Little Pill from 1995 (the one with Ironic, You oughta Know and etc.)

But what came next?

I asked around and very few people knew it was followed in 1998 by Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. And although the album did well, it didn’t capture the imagination of fans in quite the same way. Could it be because the follow-up sounded more polished and lacked the raw style of Jagged Little Pill?

Anyway it got me thinking about a “dangerous disease” called “awkward second album syndrome”.

It’s most infectious after a BIG unexpected success and has a detrimental impact on follow up efforts. What’s more it plagues the business as well as the pop music world...

And I’ve seen evidence that it’s struck another well-known company just this week.

Let me explain...

Have you heard of Mike Dubin, founder of Dollar Shave Club? If so you’ve no doubt seen the viral video campaign that catapulted his subscription service for razors from obscurity to household name earlier last year. In fact, the video was named the Best Out-of-Nowhere Video Campaign of 2012 and to date it’s had over 10.5 million youtube hits.

There’s no question the video drove Dollar Shave Club’s success. For example, Entrepreneur.com report that in the first 48-hours after the video hit youtube, 12k people signed up for the service. And what’s even more remarkable is this cracking video was created on a budget of just $4500. Pretty awesome right.
But what made the video so compelling?

I think it’s the result of the risk taking (“Our blades are f**king great” has become an unofficial slogan!) along with the tightly scripted, perfectly timed comedy. The combination ensured the video was memorable, worth talking about and great social sharing material.

But then came a problem - just how do you follow that?

How do you create a follow up product and video that’s just as compelling and entertaining - especially when people’s expectations are so high and you’re kept on your toes by an onslaught of copycat efforts.

The answer is - with difficulty.

Resist the temptation to dumb down your raw talent

And I think it’s because there’s something incredibly special about being a micro business with something new to offer the market. And I reckon once you understand what it is, you can harness its potential to achieve success again and again...

You see newcomers often have no baggage. There’s no expectation based on previous successes or failures. What’s more, because micro business are often forced to do their marketing on a budget, they have to use their creativity to make up for the lack of money. They can afford to take bigger risks and that’s where the magic can happen.

Mike Dubin had no idea how huge the Dollar Shave Club video would be. Instead, with his limited budget he used the resources he had at his disposal - including his personality and comedy skills. And it just worked. The video was raw, edgy and rich with personality and perfect comic timing. And because it was so funny, it got people talking.

The disappointing follow up

But then came the pressure to do it again - and they’ve tried with Let’s Talk About #2.

The new video launched this month promotes One Wipe Charlies - moist butt wipes designed for men to use after a number 2. The promotional video is clearly influenced by the original viral hit - but it falls flat.

It lacks the edgy, rawness of the original and it’s possible similar factors that affected Alanis Morrisette’s follow up are happening here. The bigger budget, pressure to impress and a previous mega hit have led to a video that’s too polished, tries too hard and ends up being a bit silly.

For sure people will watch the video - but I reckon it will be more out of intrigue. What’s more, I doubt it will get people talking in the same way.

This is very relevant for the success of your small business

The lesson here is never lose sight of the rawness, nimbleness and edge you have as a micro business.

Thanks to the power of publication tools such as youtube, social media and blogging you can spread your message to a HUGE market - especially if you create something that goes viral.

BUT don’t make the mistake of templating a success and then trying to emulate it - because as we’ve seen with One Wipe Charlies, swipe and deploy does not always work. Especially if you try too hard and allow a bigger budget to eat away at the innovation and risk taking low budget campaigns often have.

Stay true to your roots

Instead allow the raw creativity and innovation to flow through you. Stay at the cutting edge by holding tight to your adaptability, gut feeling and risk taking.

And never lose sight of why you got started in the first place.

That way, your second, third and subsequent efforts could be just as captivating as the one that made you a “celebrity” in your niche in the first place.

I’m game.

Are you?

Why not let me know in the comments below...

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