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#30 – Butts, Swearwords, Micro States, Black Friday sales, and lots of Questions
welcome to the 30th edition of Strategy Bites. This week we’re looking into butts and their backstory (the cheeks, not the holes), the (not so) secret power of swearing, the odd phenomenon of micro states, the painful truth about Black Friday sales, and two helpful resources for strategists that involve questions.
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Enjoy this week’s links:
Butts: A Backstory. This is probably one of my favourite book titles I’ve come across recently. And Anne Helen Peterson with author Heather Radke is a hilariously insightful conversation about butts (the cheeks, not the holes): ”I began to see the way the butt never represents itself in so many different places. You can’t see your own butt, you are always seeing it through reflection, photography, or other people’s gaze. We don’t have a proper word for our butts, only euphemisms, which is unique to our butts. We have many euphemisms for other body parts that carry shame, but we ultimately have ‘correct’ words like vulva, vagina, breasts, penis, etc. But primarily, I realized that, unlike breasts, for example, where the biological function is so deeply related to the symbolic meaning (maternity, femininity, etc.), butts really don’t have much inherent biological meaning.” There are other little nuggets in there that make this a prime example of why embracing serendipity is so important for strategists. Did you know that “a run is, essentially, a controlled fall. You propel your body forward and the muscles in your butt pull you upright”?
The Secret Power of Swearing. I am currently doing a little bit of a research project into the power of negativity (or, to be more precise, what often is deemed negative) and so I enjoyed this little guest essay in the New York Times outlining the power of swearing: ”Swearing can be so satisfying that it can help us withstand pain. It can shock, offend and entertain. It can release tension or increase it. It can foster intimacy.” Yes, swearing is a complicated language, one that is constantly evolving, often not always very equitable or inclusive, but one that definitely has its place in our lives – even in the workplace – when used with the right intentions.
Black Friday Conversion Lag. Richard Kirk shared this chart from Smarter Ecommerce showing the conversion lag in the lead-up to Black Friday, the discount bonanza of the year. His dry comment: “6 weeks of sales at full price / full margin sacrificed. When you do make the sale, a) you've lowered your price and margin anyway, and to make it worse b) you're probably spiking your performance ad spend which increases COGS and erodes margin even further.”
No Embassy. One of those random reads that you stumble upon while doing research for something else, this article looks into the fascinating phenomenon of micro states. Daisy Alioto, the author, points to the likes of The Republic of Užupis, Rose Island, Praxis, Westarctica before drawing parallels to some (failed) Web3 projects. It’s a fun little exploration of the human desire to feel in control of their dreams and desires – and looking for shapes and forms to shape a world (or a state or a city or a web3 project) in that vein.
How one question puts you ahead of 99% of strategists. Alex Smith shares strategy “secrets” on his LinkedIn. And they often come with all the annoying copy writing we’ve come to dread on that platform. (“Let me explain”, “Let me teach you”, etc.) But this one is actually a helpful little hack to keep you on track as you work through your projects. It’s ultimately an expansion of the age-old truth that a strategy means sacrifice – and that this isn’t a bad thing but a very good thing. Yeah, but what is that one question, I hear you enquire impatiently. Just click on the link.
The brand strategist’s toolkit #29: Stakeholder Discussion Guides and Oblique Strategies. This one doesn’t need much explanation, it’s all in the title – and in the post. I’m definitely guilty of having written many a poor discussion guides when not leaving enough time to properly prepare for a project, so let this be your reminder and a guide to get to better ones.
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Enjoy your Friday and your weekends – and see you all next week.