Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume 84, February 2013

Well, here we are the end of 1/12th of our new year.  What a month!

January was almost overwhelming in the number of new projects launched and planned programs moving forward.  This isn’t unusual in my world, as I usually spend the fourth quarter working with clients on projects to launch in the New Year, so January is often challenging and unbelievably exciting.

  • I opened discussions with a brand new client on a year-long project.  It is divided into two distinct strategies based on my ideas around skill enhancement (training) and moving their client experience from ordinary to DAZZLING BLUE.  Based on this client’s size, this will be a HUGE venture.
  • I then was on the road again to work with a client on the deepest and most intensely strategic project around a client experience initiative I have ever seen.  When a large company choosing to focus their growth efforts toward separating themselves from their competition around their client experience, including a new way to view the classic “added value” concepts, it is a formula for success.  Every company controls their client experience.  Focus some strategic energy on what you can control.
  • I was in Dallas for continuing work on a series of projects we prepared for in December.  One is about re-creating the client’s “story” around simple, powerful, and visual tools.  Another was the ongoing planning of an internal training platform, kind of a “proprietary university” using two of my existing educational platforms and then designing industry and company-specific training.
  • Then off to New Jersey (-4 , brrrrr) to teach interpersonal communications.
  • Going from the deep freeze of New Jersey to the tropical warmth of Mexico, I launched the brand new program A STEP AHEAD that gives a laser-like focus on the strategic importance and simplicity of ideas around true customer service.

In addition to all this, I did some internal work, including the preparations for launching the new blog on the web site, a shift to the cloud, building a new office in Austin, and writing two articles for clients’ internal use.

No time to slow down, as February is already upon us with trips back to Dallas, then to California, Houston, and the East Coast.

Hey, everyone:  thanks for the incredible honor and opportunity to work together with you!


The barriers are not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, "Thus far and no farther."

[Ludwig van Beethoven]

Under HAPPENINGS I talked about a project that was a very deep drill-down with a laser-like strategic focus on client experience.  It was an intense 2 ½ day meeting with six key leaders.  The first day, which lasted almost 10 hours, was an analysis of everything that impacts the client.  We divided it into two parts (way better than 3!):
  • Part I – The basic business.  If you were a hardware store this would be the selling of your nuts and bolts, the physical plant, the training of your staff, and so on…the basics of being in business.  You would be surprised at what a facilitated drill-down session reveals that you miss in your daily immersion in what you do.
  • Part II – Adding value.  This is where you create a different layer of client involvement than the “basic business.”  In the hardware example, you might offer classes in painting and home repair, or create a home repair division.  Value added material is a fertile ground for the elusive separation and differentiation that companies search for.
Birds During the plenary session, I introduced the idea of THE SLIPSTREAM.  The Slipstream represents untapped potential moving at the periphery of the main idea.  Think of a biker drafting off another biker.  While in the lead biker’s draft, or slipstream, the drafting biker needs to use a lot less energy, as the lead biker is moving the resistance of the air out of the way.  It’s the same principle found in birds that fly in the “V” formation.  The lead bird does all the hard work and the other birds can burn less energy in their efforts to move forward.  Almost every idea has a slipstream, an area that pushes a barrier farther forward.  In business consider the iPhone and iPad slipstreams.  After their introductions, entire economies developed to fill the slipstreams created by these revolutionary devices.  Mobile phone accessory makers built a $32 billion industry, moving companies like Belkin, Griffen, and even Apple itself (jumping into their own slipstream) to huge levels of success.
Most companies don’t see the power of the slipstream created by their own service platforms.  Part of this project was to identify and leverage slipstream opportunities.  The best part about these unseen avenues of potential is that they are already surfing the periphery of a successful idea.  This means they require less energy to become real value.  Here is an example:

EVENTS:  My client had a series of client events planned around the country.  These events were structured as “rewards” for doing a certain level of business.  We created a specific communication strategy around each event.  These “event specific” communications gave each function a completely unique look and feel.  This simple slipstream strategy will be married to new product launches scheduled around each event.  They all look customized to each participant.  Simple slipstream leverage.

When was the last time you did a deep dive into what you are doing for your clients?  When was the last time you looked for simple, powerful and elegant ideas around what you are already doing?

The slipstream is there, it’s energy efficient, and it can launch a new method of strategic differentiation and separation.    There are no barriers that say, “Thus far and no farther.”

MOVIES BOOM: 2012 was the most successful year in history for the movie industry, with 1.37 billion tickets sold and revenues soaring to $10.71 billion.  The continued development of the art form, with advances in digital animation and computer-generated live action topping technological impact, further blurred the lines of what’s real and what’s not (the tiger in The Life of Pi was all CGI) are drawing huge crowds worldwide.  Other trends like the decline in “R” rated movies and the continued audience fascination with the horror genre are having an impact.  Now, it’s true I’m a movie fan, but apparently there are a few more folks sharing time with me in front of the silver screen!

Super Bowl XLVI

ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE: Super Bowl commercials can cost almost $4 million a pop, so product giants are rapidly becoming experts in finding the ways to guarantee high levels of engagement.  Social media is becoming the player in advertising strategy.  Coca Cola, Toyota, Pepsi, and Audi are just a few of the companies that will be launching “user-generated” or “user involvement” as the core of their Big Sunday idea.  From online voting to actual user ideas, most of these top-of-mind brands want your participation.  Super Bowl Sunday is perhaps the only day that people really pay attention to commercials, so the intense focus is very warranted.  Heck, advertisers often see a 20% increase in their web-based traffic on the big game day!

Food Truck

IT AIN’T THE GOOD HUMOR MAN: The boom in the food trailer business during the last five years is stunning! Used to be, you could get only ice cream, a hot dog, or a pretzel from food trailers, but now everything from gourmet sandwiches to Vietnamese soups are on the menu.  Between 2007 and 2012 food truck licenses grew by 8.2% and generated over $650 million in annual sales.  It’s predicted that with an annual growth of 4.2%, sales will reach $2.7 billion by 2017!  The success of this distribution mode lies in offering a global variety of foods at lower prices than traditional sit-down establishments.  In my neck of the woods (Austin, TX) the food truck phenomenon is a complete culture, with music, loyal followers, sometimes long lines, and a funky feeling that make them big-time popular with Laura and me.  So stop by and order your deep-fried, jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped hot dog… and if it makes you feel less guilty, you can get a Diet Coke to wash it down!

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at or give him a call at (512) 712-5279.
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Steve Harvill • Office: (512) 712-5279 • Cell: (972) 345-9480
109 Top O The Lake • Lakeway, TX 78734