Did you happen to catch today’s Wall Street Journal front page feature on paper clips? Yes, I just wrote paper clips.
At first I thought this was an odd, boring choice for a story selection, and I pondered why this premier publication would devote prime real estate to such an ordinary product. It didn’t take me long, a couple of sentences, to get its point. I learned that a paper clip is rare because it has withstood its classic design for over 100 years. How many things can you say that about?
This thought led me to further thought about whether we should keep certain things that work well alone and stop slapping “new improved” stickers on just about everything that gets sold or consumed.
DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE NEW AND IMPROVED?
I mean we’ve all heard this statement before, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it.
I don’t like that statement – but, in this case it certainly applies. Paper clips are still as relevant today as they were the day they were introduced into the marketplace in 1903. Sure, you can add colors to them or designs or coat them in plastic. But at the end of the day is there any better tool to fix papers without leaving a mark, to un-clog glue bottles or clean under your finger nails in a pinch?
With that being said, are there things about your business or the work that you do that you shouldn’t improve upon because they work well?
A CLASSIC BUSINESS PLAN
Here’s what I would say about my PR business. No matter what new whiz-bang social media tool that comes out, I don’t want to lose personal connection and phone calls. My business success lies in having connections with real people, journalists, and I’ve built up those relationships through the years by having conversations with them over the phone or in-person. That’s really my business secret, my paper clip, if you will and one that I hope to never change.