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Value Over Polish

This week was Halloween, and as is normally the case, friends and OG Zillans occasionally text me magical video nuggets of yesteryear.

At the end of this post, please see two absurd RevZilla Halloween Deals videos from 2010 and 2011 respectively. They have bad light, bad sound, bad jokes and bad dancing. Our table was also way too low so in every shot is a product and my fly behind it – well, when we’re not putting an intern or our 80-year-old landlord in a costume, at least.

These early videos also contain honesty, perspective, a unique voice and curated product information in them. At the time, that mix of information and value could not be found elsewhere in the online motorcycle aftermarket.

Over time, to find the right video positioning and ultimate sweet spot for conversion, trust and brand development, we tried a lot of things that were quick and cheap, knowing if customers revolted we’d take them down.

It was the internet and while our jokes may have sometimes been funny only to us, no one was really offended. If anything, our customer base applauded us for taking chances and being us, even if we got it wrong or they didn’t get it. A great side effect of some of the most bizarre was that customers would say, “I feel like I’m part of your inside joke, even though I don’t get it.” Brand equity built, albeit from a different angle.

I actually can’t remember ever taking anything down except for an early video at a FBI shooting range and a Cinco de Mayo deals video which in hindsight was not appropriate. Maybe 2 videos out of thousands.

My point in all this is that as businesses scale, managing polish, professionalism, voice and production value become important things, especially when you have teams that are accountable specifically for those actual functions.

Be careful though, that polish doesn’t get in the way of moving fast, iterating quickly or launching things that may be rough proofs of concept that ultimately lead to major ah-hahs down stream. Sometimes you have to place off-kilter, half-baked or riskier bets, knowing that it’s the necessary cost of R&D for future upside.

Playing it slow, safe and polished is what some incumbents do. And they are the ones who are sitting ducks, just like they were in 2008, when we showed up in Moto and pressed record with our “loose” script.

Most importantly in my experience, customers will always forgive production, polish or presentation issues so long as the value of the information they need or want is there. They will keep watching, root you on and hopefully tell you to “raise the table away from your pants” lovingly in the comments. They are your feedback loop. Make sure you’re listening.

All that said, now please enjoy 2010’s RevZilla Halloween Deals tour de force as well as 2011’s Halloween dancing intern. The legendary Akash, patriarch of the RevZilla intern family tree.

Pro Tip: If you only click one of them, click the second one. #amazeballs

Thanks Taylor and Chomsky for the inspiration on this one.



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