I love pirate tales and the lore and “glamour” of the 18th century "businesses" they ran. For some reason I cannot get enough information on these sea faring "businessman" (oh yes, there were also a few pirate business women). All were adventurous entrepreneurs who undertook their livelihood with a certain flare or as people call it today "swagger". Many of them built their enterprises from the "sea up", no E-Myth Reality for these guys- No SWOT Analyst- simply, ready aim fire.
They had a code that they lived and died by, and of course, they definitely knew how to brand their "product" and provide a unique customer experience. Any pirate worth his earings, gold teeth or swashbuckle knew his revenues were predicated on their enterprise working as one strategic business unit. They understand ROI and employees working on strict commission.
Market execution was the key to any well foraging band of pirates. They gathered information on their markets and target audience for the sole purpose of creating the ultimate prospect engagement. They knew, if they created a certain “volume” of unique customer experiences, word of mouth marketing would spread and others would realize what the pirate brand represented. They determined, little advertising would be needed, word of mouth marketing would simply do the trick. ( a true 18th Century Social Media Strategy) - friends would tell friends.
They developed the ultimate value proposition without ever giving an elevator speech, building a website, sending a tweet, or asking to Like Me. In fact, consider this their branded logo has withstood the test of time.There was never a " new, improved, or classic" pirate brand. You simply said pirate, and people immediate knew what you did, how you did it and what to expect. The WIIFM clearly existed in the 18th century.
How unique is that, how resourceful these "businesses" were in building a brand experience - No Mad Men needed for these guys, no blogs, just good old fashion word of mouth marketing and of course the occasionally walking the plank or hanging. Hey, these guys understood customer expectations long before Tom Peters. The closest thing to a business plan was a treasure map.
My "favorite pirate-pren-eur"- the most notorious, and most often portrayed, Edward Teach - or Good Ol' Blackbeard himself.
Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. A shrewd and calculating leader, Teach avoided the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews and there are no known accounts of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive. He was romanticized after his death, and became the inspiration for a number of pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.
Imagine, you were sailing on a beautiful wooden ship in the middle of Caribbean or East Coast and you saw a ship appear in the distance. As it heads towards you, you see that it flies a flag… and as it gets even closer to you, you see what’s on the flag… Oh S*#T… a skull and crossbones. Seeing this logo, you immediately form an idea of what kind of experience is in store for you, courtesy of the pirate brand. Let alone as you get closer you hearts skips alternating beats and you now see the ship’s name . . . Queen Anne's Revenge, you now realize you are in very deep doo doo! Why!!! That is Blackbeard’s ship! Blackbeard delivered so consistently on his brand promise that eventually all his sales team had to do was show their logo – (the skull and crossbones), let them see the name Queens Anne’s Revenge!! Many a potential client's ship would drop all its valuable cargo and flee, leaving Blackbeard and his merry crew a sizable revenue without ever having to fire a shot, brandish a sword or make anyone walk the plank. Now that is branding at its best, closing sales without any negotiation - talk of the ultimate value proposition! "Your Valuables or Your Life".
Edward Teach, Blackbeard built a brand and the ultimate consumer experience. He did this through hard work, team building, consistent quality of services, word of mouth marketing and of course 18th century social media strategies.
What can be learned from Blackbeard?
Build your brand wisely and consistently. Advertising and marketing when done properly will lay the ground work for your brand- Customer engagement that speaks volumes of your product will never go unnoticed. Create an experience with initial consumer engagements that will let your market know what, how and when to expect the product and services you will deliver and the quality of service they will obtain.
A sound resonating logo and company name speaks volumes about what customers may expect in doing business with you. If you have created the ultimate customer experience people will know what to expect and how they will be treated. They will also fully understand the “outcome” of doing business with you. They will tell tales to others about the treatment they received and the results of doing business with you. Others will know what to expect and will know the minute they see your flag or ship’s name and be more than willing to exchange their cargoes for a product or service you offer.
So throw off the bowlines, set your sails to the wind and get into the entrepreneurial spirit...YoHo YoHo YoHo an Entrepreneur's Life For Me!
Need help with your brand experience contact our Captain today, we can get your Jolly Roger flowing in no time.