Ok, check out these two pictures, one is from the Spring 2012 Professional Painting Contractor magazine published by Sherwin Williams, the cover picture is of a painted lady in an unusual color scheme of pumpkin, yellow/crème and turquoise accent. The other photo is of a house we finished 2 days before the magazine arrived in our office on April 6th.
I’m not hacking Mike Starling’s (PPC editor) computer because I promised to stop doing that as a condition of my release. And I’m not an innovative colorist. This is not a conspiracy either (nod to the tinfoil hat brigade), this is a coincidence. But it is also a gentle reminder of a few things: 1) that historic colors tend to cycle back (and in so doing look new), 2) an astute client makes us look good (neighbors and drivers-by don’t know whether we had anything to do with the colors or not), 3) our trade/industry involvement makes them look smart (my client was aghast when I showed her the PPC cover and refused to return my copy), and 4) the internet is the oxygen of modern times (my client researched & sourced the color scheme online – who knows, maybe PPC sourced the scheme there too?). Does that make her an innovative colorist? Hmmm…yes, I guess.
All this got me to thinking; through the web portal we are living the modern illustration of the proverb – as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the wits of another. I have a collection of books and manuals that I haven’t used in several years; small engine repair manuals, Chilton automobile books, gardening, specialty painting, quotes & toasts, philosophy, history, model building, etc; all together they pale in comparison to my substantial collection of cookbooks – volumes of material for which I paid are now gathering dust. Pre-web; I’d search the chicken section of my cookbooks looking for something new and different, maybe I’d find coq au vin (chicken with wine) and give it a try. Now, if I want to make coq au vin I go online and search for recipes, read a few and discover knowledge previously not available to me: that one man’s bacon bits (from my old cookbook collection) is another man’s lardons (salt pork cubes). My knowledge is now on par with a trained chef – in pre-web times, that is.
What a friend, the internet, yes? Yes, right up to the point where it’s not. Let me illustrate that with a couple of painting related examples: number 1 – you are selling an exterior and your prospect asks you if spray and backroll is the equivalent of 2 coats because your competitor (not qualitative, only categorical) said so. You chuckle, and explain why this isn’t so, later your client researches this and finds substantial evidence that you are correct – the HERO! The web is your friend and your client’s as well. Situation 2 – as an experienced, plugged-in industry leader you’ve concluded over the years that it’s wiser to wash your exterior after you concluded the dusty prep and you’ve incorporated this tautological wisdom into your sales conversation, and you gain expertise in your client’s eyes, and they trust you. But you’re not alone in that method, other like-minded businesses also wash post-prep and one of those guys had the temerity to blog about it, or post a video of it on you-tube or blurb it on facebook; and instantly, the knowledge is available to any knuckle-dragging low bidder who can operate a mouse and read. You’ve lost an edge. In this case, the internet is NOT your friend.
May you be blessed to live in interesting times. Welcome to modernity where our cup runneth over.