So, today I decided to watch Fyre on Netflix. This documentary details the fraudulent background of the luxury music event entitled "Fyre Festival" that happened in 2017.
In the documentary we see the concept for the festival come about inadvertently as a part of the marketing schematics for a new media booking platform that the creators had devised. The festival gained a lot of traction after it turned out to be a complete bust due to a combination of poor leadership, lack of resources, unskilled planning and fraudulent tactics. The entire time that I was watching this documentary my head was swirling with various "No's" and "Don't" - it was like watching a project management nightmare.
However, I did get to pull a good amount of thoughts and lessons learned from the whole Fyre story…
1.) PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING.
That’s the society we live in now. People have become more concerned with the way that things are perceived than really investing in the reality of what is. We have adopted image driven mainstream and social media platforms that provide us with one picture or seconds worth of a video and from there, our imagination builds the rest. And while this is great for capturing memories in our personal lives it also builds up a lot of false and presumed context about the reality and nature of things. And businesses know this. Influencers know this. In fact, they bank on it. They are completely invested in the fact that all they need is one picture - their public audience will do the rest.
2) INFLUENCERS WORK:
If there is anything that this festival taught us it's that influencers work BECAUSE OF the fact listed above - perception is everything. People are drawn to influencers due to the imagery that they portray. Connecting your brand to them gives you surrogate access to that energy. Is it sometimes built upon shallow precepts and misguided focus? Sure it is! But it works. The influencers worked. The Fyre team just did a piss poor job of utilizing that energy AFTER the fact.
3) Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Imagine having an idea and project become a complete and utter failure simply because you failed to plan for how amazingly SUCCESSFUL it would be? That is essentially what happened. This is what feasibility testing is for. This is what risk assessments are for. This is why ventures traditionally hire a team of planners and project managers to begin putting things together a year + in advance. It's not because they love doing the boring tedious stuff - it's because they know that a brilliant idea won't become a phenomenal success story UNLESS YOU PREPARE FOR IT TO BE ONE. The festival's concept was like a seed. It had ingrained potential to grow into something beautiful. However, the seed alone is not enough. It must be met with A) the right environment B) a skilled gardener C) consistent nurturing and care as well as D) time to blossom. Being great at conceiving entrepreneurial concepts and having the skills required to EXECUTE those concepts are two different things. Having an idea is not enough. We must then recognize if we do or do not have the skills needed to "birth" that idea and then be willing to bring in the proper expertise when we realize that we don't.
4) Staying Focused Matters:
Looking back over the documentary I'm reminded that at the beginning of it all the primary focus was never about creating a luxury music festival - it was about building and launching a media booking platform. That was the focus. The festival was devised to build up and market THE MEDIA BOOKING PLATFORM. But somewhere along the way, the mission got lost. And in the end, the thing that was designed to support the main venture ended up killing it. Mission and vision statements are important. Business plans are important. Venture strategies are important. Contingency plans are critical. Feasibility and risk assessments save lives. All of these things help you order your steps so that you can remain FOCUSED ON THE MISSION while building your way to excellence. Because at the end of the day isn't that the point? We should never get so tied up in a marketing strategy that it kills the very thing we are marketing… and sends us to jail with felony charges.