One hundred twenty-three.
Remember that number. It’s easy … 1-2-3.
We’ll get back to that in just a minute.
Folks who have worked with ESA know all about solid strategy and good case histories. Some might even say that case histories are the currency of our business — or even better, they are the gold standard of our work.
The case history. It’s a success story about helping a business grow with the application of disciplined strategy. It’s not only profitable, it feels good too. But the case history is not always easy to come by. Not even close. We know that, and so do you.
Just how difficult is it to produce a single viable case history with a successful, growing business?
Great question. Consider what has to happen:
1. First, a media executive sees a great idea, whether be from ESA or in the field of work.
2. That media executive picks up the phone, or visits a business, and does this frequently enough to actually get the right person. Usually the business owner.
3. The business owner agrees to meet.
4. The business owner shows up for the meeting. Miraculously, there are no claims of in-store emergencies or illnesses, sudden onsets of amnesia, or unexpected deaths in the family.
Sounds simple enough, but basic math will prove that the chances of even those four things happening in succession is somewhat of a long-shot. And if you think the odds have grown long at this point, we’re not even halfway done yet!
5. The business owner listens, objects, discloses, and dialogs with us.
6. They agree to move forward.
7. They follow the plan.
8. It works. And by “it works,” we mean this: more business, more new customers, more profit, usually on a relatively smaller base of ad spending. That is “working.”
9. They tell you it worked, and might even share with you credit for the success.
10. They want to do this again, and try to improve upon the results.
11. Information and results — real metrics — are gathered.
12. That information is accurately shared for another specific, similar situation, as the process starts again with #1.
Every step of the way, we are working in a context of conversion ratios, a gauntlet of probabilities. You are climbing a mountain where each subsequent step depends upon a strong foot-hold in the prior step. Statistics and probabilities are working mightily against you the entire way.
We list those twelve “steps” — if you will — not to glorify our work, but to demonstrate the long odds that are at play here. Gerry is definitely one to beat the odds. Consistently. With humility, grace, and a big dose of humor.
Recall at the top of this piece, we cited a number. One hundred twenty-three. It’s an easy number to remember, so it’s probably still fresh in your mind. It’s not an especially large number. Or is it?Gerry Summers, retiring President of ESA & Company has 123 case histories to his name. That makes the number “123” suddenly look enormous.
And we’re 100% positive there are countless others out there — i.e. other successful business growth stories with Gerry’s fingerprints all over them — that should be added to that list.
Gerry would be the last person to actually count all of them or tell you how many he has. (If he’s reading this right now, he’s probably raising his eyebrows at this information, and smiling. Might even be blushing.) He will be the first one to share the success stories with you, as most of you know.
In the history of ESA as a company, this is the most case histories attributed to a single person. So while Gerry is always the humble student, who never stops learning, he also is the master who has been constantly teaching along the way. Those two characteristics — student and master, humility and confidence — are symbiotic. As rare as they can be, they tend to be at their best when they come in pairs. This is the essence of Gerry.
As we thank Mr. Gerry Summers for his incredible service — service not just to ESA, but also to the media and retail industries and to people across this nation — we try to do so in the best way possible, using a format that Gerry would appreciate.
His career has been one magnificent case history. It has all the key ingredients: A great idea (too many to count), a promise, hard work, integrity, communication, sharing, and an outcome that far surpassed expectations.
All of that … and he loved every minute of it. (We did too.)
It’s one thing to make a buck; quite another to make a difference.
So we’d like to take this opportunity to share this case history with everyone. It starts like this: Somebody, 30-some-odd years ago, had a great idea …
Gerry, “thank you” is not enough. You are the gold standard of our work.
To borrow your line — something we all do, often: Peace Out, Good Friend.
Dave Eckstein is a Partner in the firm ESA & Company. He specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local businesses and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition. He plays baseball, but isn't that Dave Eckstein.