The “Underpants Gnomes”

Chris Sheldrake

Here in the office we have been looking through our archive (the same web based blog archive that you too can search – top right hand corner of this web site) doing some research for a post near Xmas or during the New Year that will see us tell you our favourite posts and articles of 2008 were – that’s what magazines, newspapers and the like do, Ed

Underpants Gnomes

Anyway, we found this one and what with all that is happening in the industry at the moment we thought it couldn’t wait and so here it is back by magic at the top of the blog…

Back in April we shared the stage with both David Haynes, Broadsign + Sixteen:Nine and Bill Gerba at a event in Montreal both of whom gave (as usual) excellent presentations.

Like with any marketing, messages to the industry are worth repeating time and time again and so, you cannot get better advice for ‘newbies’ from Bill when he said…

  1. Know your business model
  2. Understand your goals
  3. Build a solid team
  4. Avoid common pitfalls
  5. Learn from the mistakes of others

David pointed out how many “dead men’ he sees in this business – people who don’t get having a readily defined business model or so clearly don’t have one that will ever work (short or long term).

All this talk reminded us of the “Underpants Gnomes” from South Park. They are a community of underground gnomes who steal underpants (notably from a character called ‘Tweek’ – whose parents own the local coffee store – though that has nothing to do with the story per se, Ed).

Anyway, the Underpants Gnomes have a three-phase business plan: –

  1. Collect Underpants
  2. ?
  3. Profit

None of the gnomes actually know what the second phase is AND all of them assume that someone else within the Gnome community / organisation does!

When doing due diligence with DOOH you would be surprised how often we see that same (three-step) business plan.

One Response to “The “Underpants Gnomes””

  1. Luis Says:

    Believe it or not, most of the “sales work” on a Managed Service company like ours is educating new clients, not selling the software nor the service (yes, very sad).

    All of Bills rules should apply, and they do, however, they are affected by the Microsoft Excel Law of Digital Signage, which nobody has ever never mention anywhere.

    This is how it really works:

    Know your business model = make money.

    The way to do it is as following (MS Excel Law dictates -do picture this on an excel table-):

    2000 screens * 0.001€ per second * 3600 seconds * 18hours = 129600€ per day * 365 days per week = 47.304.000 per year (wow)

    Understand your goals = make the first 47 mil without putting any money or as little as posible.

    Build a solid team = yes, they must work for free until we get the first 47 mil.

    Avoid common pitfalls = why? we can fix anything with 47 mil

    Learn from the mistakes of others = yes, we will learn but after we make the first 47 mil. Dont really have time to learn them now. We have 47 mil to make… Until then we will fix and repeat them.

    Also, they seem to all say the same:
    Who would not want to invest in our company with 2000 possible screens and 47 mil inconme… (that is first year only of course, second, we will increase to 0.02 per second…)
    Why would a soft company not want to give us their software on a 1 year “demo”… we will pay them after we get the 47 mil… same with installers, hardware….

    Lovely business to be in…

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