Seth Godin call’s it the Dip. Others call it “knowing when to lay down your bet”. However, it shouldn’t take just a losing proposition to stop doing something that is ‘good’ in pursuit of doing something that is great.
In meeting with a successful leader the other day, I was challenged to not always think in terms of “life long time lines”. What if projects had shorter life spans? What if we had clear, short-term, small budget, in-n-out approaches to some of our objectives? What if new products, established teams, marketing budgets, fund-raising efforts, et-al didn’t always go on forever?
In WWII the U.S. Marines spent over a year preparing to take just one key island – Iwo Jima. It was a hotly contested conflict with thousands of lives laid at the alter of freedom, but they knew when and what victory looked like and it wasn’t about being in the marines forever or engaged in war in perpetuity.
The challenge before us for the greatest gains does not always have to include “doing this forever”. Don’t be afraid to cancel things that aren’t meeting you goals or your values or your stated outcomes. Just because you started something does not mean that you should always finish. See more of what you do as “experimental” and don’t get down when it doesn’t work out. Just try something else.
“Salesman” has somehow gotten a bad reputation. Perhaps it was converted into a disparaging term by men who pawn worthless used autos with cheap new paint jobs. My own made up history of the word envisions a young leader and entrepreneur alive with excitement about a new revolutionary product that has radically transformed his life. He so appreciates what difference that this new discovery has made for himself that he now can’t possibly contain his enthusiasm. He must tell others. It’s natural. It really is a part of who he is.
Being great at sales takes nothing more than confidence in your product and pride in your delivery and service. If you have personal ownership and belief in what you have to offer, then every conversation ought to be natural, easy and fun. I have a good friend who can’t but help talk about what he does for a living. Not because he needs your money, but because he really believes in what he does. In turn, he is one of the most profitable and successful ‘salesmen’ in know.
So, if you aren’t leading at bringing others along on your journey and in your business…
You aren’t proud of what you do OR you need to make your product better.
The leadership choices seem rather simple.
There are a lot of things that we never try for lack of courage, extra finances or motivation. However, we all know that some of the best discoveries are made through relentless trials and successive errors. Our businesses and organizations are very much our labs for experimentation. Don’t let our slick websites fool you… we are still learning a lot and trying a lot. We have so much more to learn even though there are a few things we do very well.
But how about you? What are you experimenting with? What new idea do you need to just try? What service have you been afraid to implement or eliminate?
Keep experimenting. Keep trying. Keep enjoying what you have begun.
Grumpy, scared people miss out on the best marketing opportunities.
Down the street from my house is a delicious little bakery; fresh doughnuts, pastries and breads every morning. Across the street from this bustling little place are two nameless businesses and a therapeutic massage clinic. During the busy mornings you can’t find parking in front of the bakery. The clinic and nameless business are not yet hitting their stride so they have ample parking. BUT these 3 businesses have a huge NO PARKING sign in their lot for any patrons of businesses other than theirs. If you dare park there as I do, you risk a tongue lashing and a possible tow. The only thing I every remember about their businesses is their hostility towards the parking space thieves. If I needed the service I would easily drive 30 minutes or more before getting my clinical massages at that business. We have all experienced this before. Hopefully, we are not those kinds of organizational leaders.
Think creatively with me for a moment —
What if those 3 businesses saw their parking spaces as a potential audience?
What if they put kind notes on my car? Placed a coupon my windshield? (I can’t prevent them, I am in their spaces after all.) What if they invited me in to look around as part of a parking space trade? What if they had a doughnut morning in their lot in cooperation with the bakery? What if they did advertising over at the bakery in cooperation for opening up morning parking spaces? The ideas could just keep flowing but you get the point. The 3 grumpy businesses are missing a positive marketing opportunity.
Unfortunately, we may also be missing these same kinds of opportunities. So, who is around you that is successful? How can you intertwine their success with yours? What positive marketing opportunities exist for you that you are missing out on that may very well be right in front of your face? Who is coming by your business but leaving with a sour impression before they even purchase? How do you reach them?
Creative questions and identifying opportunities make for thriving businesses.
My youngest boy evidently has a favorite ‘adult’ restaurant that he asked to go to several times while we were on vacation. So we headed out to it one afternoon for their specialty shakes and reasonably good americana fair. The service in this establishment was mediocre at best during a ‘less than busy’ period of the day. As usually happens, my kids focused on the the good things, while I remained puzzled by the items in this operation that could be easily improved upon with a little attention and no more money spent. We were no less than two-thirds of the way through with out meal when our waitress magically appeared with the check in hand. Without concern for our next needs or whether we would like to order more or whether we were satisfied she laid the check down on the table with this stellar quote:
I am going to go ahead and drop your bill of now and get it out my way.
End of quote… end of service. I could hardly believe it. For the 3 of us I was going to be on the hook for about $35 and this is how is was being ‘served’. It was a jolting reminder to me…
Whatever price your customer is paying for your product, they anticipate that level of service or more.
Up economy or down, it is not that complicated to give your customers top level quality service. It takes no more money to serve them with a great attitude. The only thing that can come from your determination to be personable in your delivery is a more loyal and appreciative customer. Obviously, you can figure out what might happened if the converse is true of you or your employees.
So a few weeks ago i posted some questions regarding the newspaper industry, and how to fix it. I think I have some solid ideas, that I will post later. But that post got me thinking. A new series of blog posts, on what would you do to fix a company or industry. Could be a fun exercise in creativity.
So today I ask: If Sprint came to you for marketing / business help,
How would you fix Sprint?
In case you havent heard, some yahoo made an application for the iPhone, called “the baby shaker app” that uses the motion sensing hardware for the user to shake the phone, to get the baby to stop crying. Disturbing yes. It seems the Media is blasting Apple for allowing the application / game to be sold on its stores.
Why is it apples fault for some whack job who created an application like this? Isn’t it wrong that people bought it? How is this application any different than a rap song that promotes violence, drugs, killing cops and other illegal activity on the iTunes store? Is this application any different that a retailer selling a video game when the player is to kill someone for points?
Apple has since pulled the application. And I am glad they are trying to keep their store clean, but I still dont see why there is so much blame on Apple for the application.
Apple’s real issue on their hands: They are being held responsible (even if its just by the media) to sell quality content. No record store, and video game store has been held responsible like this in the past. I mean come on, have you seen grand theft auto games, which award points for driving over people. So Apple, for what ever reason, is supposed to be the morality police when it comes to games they sell for iPhone.
How to fix it: I guess embrace the fact that the media thinks you are the morality police. But now they need a stricter process for approving applications. We need a human to review all new applications, and follow a rigorous check list to make sure its not a potential PR issue for Apple.
Sure it will slow down the app approval process, and developers will have to wait in some sort of que to be approved. But it should avoid further PR issues.
This is NOT one more post about the tough times… you can get that negative talk anywhere. We all need some inspiration, motivation and ideas to move forward and upward in our pursuits. —- One of the most foundational contributions to my personal leadership & business development was being pressed by a friend to read “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. A key principle from the reading,
“work on your business, not in your business”.
Translation: On good days most of us small business owners slave away trying to keep up with all the items that are going on. We run form one urgent item to another following the squeaky wheel axiom. On bad days, we moan, groan, have lunch with buddies and hope that our yellow page investment will finally pay off with the phone ringing in new work any minute.
Every day that you are in business that you don’t invest in working on the development of your business or organization is a wasted day. QUIT wasting your days! Take at last 30-60 minutes every day to look ahead into areas where you need to do something better, different, more efficient, etc. Build your business, don’t just work in it.
Start by picking up a copy of this particular book and reading — it will inspire you to grow!
Whenever something takes longer than the predetermined time I have alloted for it, I can feel my satisfaction and enjoyment waning. On the other hand some things in life need to be extended: mountain bike riding, a very nice meal with my wife, a good fight scene in the movie and a much needed Sunday afternoon nap. But, finding a critical piece of information or receiving a needed service are not among those items.
Unashamedly, I like to fly Southwest Airlines. Online check-in is quick and easy (although I do have a suggestion about how to make it quicker) and boarding is a breeze. Today I found myself riding ‘twinkie’ on a very full flight to Atlanta via Delta. I don’t love Delta. The online check-in was very SLOW, requiring me to visit 3 more screens than S.W. and also much less user friendly. The ‘boarding’ process had 7 zones, people still mysteriously crowd up to get on and amazingly they found a way for it to take longer getting on. The beverages cost money PLUS they are slow in coming, the airplane & internal tv’s are OLD and even though I could pick my seat, I still have to ride in the middle cause that is all that was left.
I expound on all of this because when it comes to websites, service companies, responses to needs in the world, finding vital or common information, telephone & email interactions… ALL OF THEM should be quick and easy. WHY? Because people just like me and you have already experienced that they can be, so now we won’t find it reasonable or enjoyable to experience anything contrary to that.
Do the hard times really bring out the best in businesses and non-profits?
I believe so.
One recent commentary on our current economy strongly suggested that during lean economic times it is natural for people to trend towards ‘BEST’ even when on a whole we are spending less. Think about it, even the BEST companies are cutting their prices right now. It isn’t the BEST companies that are going under, but mostly the sub-par and also the marginal ones. The BEST out there are competing like never before and are positioning themselves to survive & SUCCEED during these times. Some of the BEST products are now in reach of purchase where they weren’t before. Heady organizations are putting their dollars into their BEST core products or contributions.
Below is a link with a short interview from Seth Godin as it relates to positioning your company or organization.
Here are some additional thoughts:
- what can we do to REFINE our organization?
- how do we UNIQUELY set ourselves apart from our competition?
- in which areas are we STRONGER than everyone else?
- do we care more about being known or more about being on target and succeeding?
- which of our people make the most irreplaceable contributions?
Godin Interview : http://mashable.com/2009/02/04/seth-godin-advice-for-startups/