Postcard | Raving Fans & Blackwing Pencils - Rethink Central

Raving Fans – Blackwing Pencils

Postcards from Rethink Central

Fancy chatting live? Scroll down for details (or to read the transcript)

 

Got a burning business question? Come to a live call

Q&A December 2nd, 2020, 1.30pm Eastern

Next live call is December 2nd 2020 at 1.30pm Eastern.
Come along to ask your questions about launches, strategies for marketing, Masterminds or whatever you're stuck on in your business.

Add your email below and I'll send you the zoom info for the calls. See you there!

Or come say hello on Instagram here.  I microblog daily. 

Prefer to read?

My name is Liz Scully. I’m a business strategist.

And if you have followed me for any length of time on social media you will know I love pencils and stationery.

All of my work is done using not just any old pencil but this kind of pencil. And when my clients start working with me I often send them.

This is a Palomino Blackwing pencil. It is an absolute design classic. When I was at Art School we would all fight over the beauty of these delightful pencils. But there’s actually something much more interesting about Palomino Blackwings.

Let me tell you about them because what I would like is that this is something that happens to your business.

So Palomino is a Japanese company. Blackwing is the original American company that used to make these pencils. And this is a very fancy pencil. This section comes apart so you can replace the eraser whenever you like. And this ferrule is really quite a fancy piece of engineering for a pencil.

This is a $3 pencil which is kind of, you know, it’s pretty impressive. But they were so popular.

Now my background is in animation and Chuck Jones, him that drew the Bugs Bunny films, he only ever used these. With the guy who drew the Seven Dwarfs at Disney he was buried holding a Blackwing.

These are the absolute pencils of the animatorati. These are the important things. But Leonard Bernstein, he wrote ‘Ay, Ay, America’ with one of these. Nabokov wrote Lolita with these. Steinbeck would only use these pencils. These are absolutely the most wonderful pencils. They have this great legend on them ’Half the pressure, twice the speed.’ So they are delightful to use.

But sometime in the mid ‘70s this machine that made this little ferrule… broke. Because this is kind of quite fancy. And this is a high-end pencil. And so Blackwing decided to not fix the machine because it was frighteningly expensive. You can imagine a machine that crimps and fits together thousands of pencils is quite pricey to machine.

So, they decided to discontinue the Blackwing pencil.

And animators and enthusiasts all over the world started to hoard the original Blackwings. And gradually, by the mid ‘70s, boxes of Blackwings we’re going on the black market for quite a lot of money.

By the time eBay came round you could buy a box of Palomino Blackwings the originals, the Blackwings themselves would cost you $600 USD for a box. For pencils.

This is a beloved brand. People would, really there’s stories of people at Disney discovering that one of their colleagues had a box of these. And there would, like almost fisticuffs would break out.

Now at this point, ok fair enough we’ve got raving fans who love a product that is no longer available. This is the truly extraordinary thing.

Is at that point Blackwing fans approached Palomino which is a Japanese company and said ‘you’re kind of the same sort of company’ because Blackwing had by this point gone out of business, presumably because they weren’t selling $3 pencils anymore. And they approached Palomino and said ‘You do a similar sort of thing.’ ’Can you make us a Blackwing?’

That’s a bit like Pepsi fans going to Coca-Cola and saying ‘Pepsi is gone now. Can you do us a Pepsi?’ And the weirdest thing is Palomino said yes.

And that’s why this is a ‘Palomino’ Blackwing. This is not the original ‘60s classic. It is made with American incense cedar and beautiful lead and it’s still got the same look and a fancy ferrule. But it’s different.

Now, can you imagine in your business if you had people so excited about your product that they were fighting to keep it going. And if you disappeared they would pay other people to make the same product for you.

Now Blackwing are gone. They live on in this pencil.

Palomino have taken it to another step. They are masters of marketing. And they make one-off short-term ‘Volumes’. These are special edition pencils. They do 4 a year. And they’re only available for 3 months. And when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Now people go crazy for these things. One of the pencils I bought even just last year is now worth $25. $3 to $25. If my house was making the same kind of interest up we would all be millionaires.

So, you want raving fans. You want to make a product so good that people can’t stop talking about it, will pay any amount for it. But the essence of it is the actual pencil is superb. It’s not just branding. It’s not just marketing. The actual quality is wonderful.

These are amazing pencils. You do amazing things. Make sure that you nurture the people that really care about that.

And, to nurture the lovely people that are watching this, if you have questions about your business – and maybe even pencils – then come along to my Q&A. They happen regularly, there’s a box below where you can drop your email in. I would love to help you.

Because it’s not just about pencils. It’s about helping people achieve the most they can. And beauty, and branding and marketing are all wrapped up in that.

 

Q&A December 2nd, 2020, 1.30pm Eastern

Next live call is December 2nd 2020 at 1.30pm Eastern.
Come along to ask your questions about launches, strategies for marketing, Masterminds or whatever you're stuck on in your business.

Add your email below and I'll send you the zoom info for the calls. See you there!

Or come say hello on Instagram here.  I microblog daily. 

Click to find your next read:

  • 10 Reasons You Need a Mastermind
  • Rethink Central: The Oscars, that envelope and a moment of grace
    Oscars: that envelope & a moment of grace
  • Rethink Central - Curated martini on the rethink
    Call that what you like - it’s just a martini to me
  • Rethink Central - Change your life in just 30 mins
    Change your life in just 30 minutes
  • Rethink Central: Get Joyful
    Get Joyful: it's important
  • 10 biggest mistakes joining a Mastermind group

Click the images to read more posts           

Pin It on Pinterest