Have you ever been at an event or a conference where you felt you didn’t belong? Where you wore jeans and everyone else was suited up? Or that rock concert where you wore shorts and a Lacoste shirt when everyone else had spiked hair, pierced ears, and cut off leather jackets?
I would suspect many of us have had that out of place moment. What did it make us want to do? Probably join the crowd. Even if the originator seemed like an outsider, others quickly joining in create a movement (check out the video attached to this column).
Four years ago, I attended the very first Mosquito Joe conference—a brand that, at the time, was just getting started. There were a few things I loved about Mosquito Joe. I loved the fact that the CEO, Kevin Wilson, was willing to go against the norm of franchising by keeping the franchise fee low, investing in more talent than truly justified to support a start-up brand, and investing every dollar into the growth of the brand. I also loved what the marketing team did to create a brand experience—from logos and messaging (“Make Outdoors Fun Again”), to website and branded materials, this was a brand on the cusp of great things.
At that first conference, the CEO asked me if I would keynote. I did, and I played this video of how a culture, a movement or a challenger brand becomes legendary. I said in this room (of about 30 people) that this was going to be a brand on the verge of a big moment.
At that conference (in Virginia Beach in January, with snow covered beaches), you could see culture building. Some of the corporate staff were wearing green. There were a few in khaki pants. But it was clear that the full embracing of the culture had definitely not caught on—yet.
Conference two happens. There are more green shirts and khaki pants. A year later, the brand had doubled in size, and with the help of more corporate support, Wilson was clearly more committed than ever before to applying big and smart business tactics to the brand.
Conference three happened (this time it moved to Clearwater, Florida—a true destination conference). I again got to keynote. This time, the room was up to about 150 people—with about 60 percent wearing green shirts and khaki pants.
And then, last month, conference four happened. This time, nearly 100 percent of the 230-person room gladly packed their suitcases with green shirts and khaki pants—all of them wearing their gear proudly in Cancun, screaming and yelling their support for a brand they call Mojo.
What is amazing about the case study of this brand is that it has created an intersection of culture, brand, and business. Their franchisees rave about their culture and in turn decal everything they own with the brand and in turn grow their businesses. And, this has happened over four short years.
That video I played four years ago is coming to life in front of my eyes.
If you truly want to win in business – just follow Wilson and Mosquito Joe. The widget didn’t matter for him or his brand; what mattered was mechanics. The engineering and willingess to be different stands out in a big way. And when others see a crowd of believers wearing green shirts and khaki pants, they genuinely want to join the crowd.