Stories, ideas and tips to help women build fabulous businesses and to help you build your best business.

Monday, May 5, 2008

When is BIG too big?

I have been reading Cathie Black’s book “Basic Black”. Cathie is the president of Hearst Magazines and the book is really just a collection of career lessons. I don’t agree with all of it – in fact I felt quite irritated when she wrote about dressing for work and stated “when in doubt wear black” – but some of the stuff is great, especially the stories.

One of the most illuminating tales is Cathie’s take on the rise and fall of Talk Magazine.

If you aren’t familiar with Talk; it was a magazine launched by Hearst in 1999 amidst a buzz of enormous expectation and dribbled to a close just over two years later.

Cathie mentions a number of reasons that Talk failed but one in particular stands out:

The first edition of the magazine carried an interview with Hillary Clinton in which she spoke for the first time about her husband’s infidelities.

This spectacular interview set the expectations of its readers at an impossibly high level which it just couldn’t meet, let alone exceed, issue after issue. The magazine’s fans felt let down, subscriber numbers fell, the advertising dried up and the magazine closed.

Seth Godin says in has blog today “Make BIG promises; overdeliver”. Talk magazine’s mistake was making the BIG promise so big that it couldn’t over deliver.
So my nibble is this: If you are starting a business make sure you don’t make your BIG promise too big. Better to overdeliver on a smaller promise.
There’s nothing worse than setting off with a big bang and running out of ammunition. Well, maybe there is. Wearing a colour other than black.

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