David Simon, creator of The Wire, talks about why merely chasing eyeballs is the wrong path:
You better have something to say. That sounds really simple, but it’s actually a conversation that I don’t think happens on a lot of serialized drama. Certainly not on American television. I think that a lot of people believe that our job as TV writers is to get the show up as a franchise and get as many viewers, as many eyeballs, as we can, and keep them. So if they like x, give them more of x. If they don’t like y, don’t do as much y. We never had that dynamic in our heads. What we were asking was, “What should we spend 12 hours of television saying?”
He’s talking TV. But when launching a business, there’s a lot to be said for starting from a point of view and knowing what you want to say too. When you do that, you have an anchor for everything you do moving forward.
What do you have to say? What’s your purpose? What do you stand for? Where do you draw the line? Where do you want to lead people? What do you want to spend your days doing?
For example, Whole Foods stands for selling the highest quality natural and organic products available. They’re not selling the x that most people want. They’re saying, “We don’t do x. We do y.”
That approach lets you spend your days building something you actually care about.
Plus it gives you a hook. Everyone else is doing “give them more of x” so that winds up being generic. Avoid that and you get to pitch something different: It’s not TV, it’s HBO. It’s not a regular grocery store, it’s Whole Foods. It’s not [generic category], it’s [your product].