Want to Jump Start Sales and Morale? Write a “Passion Statement” For Your Business….

 

Business leaders for years have been taught to write a mission statement, a values statement , distinctive competence, and their Unique Sales Proposition. Leadership teams are sequestered off to three-day retreats to write these statements only to often return and go right back to practicing what prompted the retreat in the first place…Why? The reason is far too often is the “work” they did at the retreat was all “head work” and lacked “heart work”.

The quickest way to jumpstart sales as well as the morale of your team is to create a “Passion Statement”.

 

So what is a passion statement? A passion statement is something I help my clients to create that explains;

  • what problem your product or service solves?

 

  • who do we solve it for? Who are our buyer personas?

 

  • what emotion does our solving the problem create in our clients?

 

  • what emotion does solving our clients problems create for us?

 

If you study companies who have become market leaders they very seldom set out to build huge profitable companies. In the majority of the cases they saw a problem that someone had and set out passionately to solve that problem. Their focus was not as much a business as it was a quest.

For years we have heard; “fake it until you make it” , unfortunately however you can not fake a passion to serve your clients and your market.Your customers will quickly detect inauthentic commitments to serve.

An authentic passion ( quest)  to serve your markets unresolved problems takes your business to another level in the minds and hearts of your market.

 

Let me give you two examples of companies I have helped. One is a typical stale example without passion often find after interviewing their team and their customers, the other a passion statement we all can rally behind.

Example A

 “our business’s purpose is to create wealth for our owners and shareholders. We plan to accomplish this by charging the maximum price the market will bear for our product and service and we plan to hold our employees and partners accountable to this objective…” ( don’t worry once the CEO understood this was his teams’ perception ( and his customer’s) of why they were in business we helped them to change this )

 

Client Name not shared for obvious reasons

 

Example B

 

“Our passion is to helping consumers with physical disabilities from the waist down experience the rush and  freedom that results from riding a motorcycle.We are committed to helping our clients connect to their passion or riding”

 

Mobility Conquest

 

 

Which company would you like to buy from?

Which company would you like to work for?

Which company is “selling” you and which company is “helping you buy”?

 

If you had to state your company’s passion statement today…is it more about what you want? Or is it about serving an unmet need of your customers? ( by the way, I do not mean the statement written on posters, shared in quarterly meeting …I mean the mission your team ( and your customers) perceive it to be)

 

Who would you rather compete against… company A or B? Why?

Ok …I hear you CFO’s and bottom line driven CEO’s out their saying …”Ya… but…” so let me assure you that if you study the most profitable market leading companies they have a passion statement.

Still not a believer? In my next post I will share the signs that you need a Passion Statement.

Are Your Customers receiving a “Luke Warm” buying experience? …if so it’s costing you more than you know…

 

The climate for business is difficult with consumer confidence low, the access to cash tight and record unemployment. However some organizations are thriving while others know something is wrong, and they are just blaming the economy. The economy is a factor; however it may be the main “why” behind your organizations’ struggles to make numbers if your clients are receiving a “Luke Warm” buying experience. Luke warm employees create a “just enough to get by “buying experience and that simply is not cutting it in this highly competitive environment. I discussed how the buying process has changed over the last year in my post: Are you Enabling your Sales Force or Emasculating them?  With these added pressures, the last thing you want is for your clients to have a poor buying experience and seek out your competitors.

I just finished a book by Francis Chan titled; Crazy Love. It’s a book about growing your spiritual life.. In chapter four he discusses “the profile of Luke warm” and I thought how the wisdom he shares with regards to our faith life also applies in the business world. Chan describes how a Luke warm faith life is worst than being hot or cold and I feel this is also true for businesses and their employees. Specifically this is most evident in the buying experience.

What is it like to buy from your company? Are your salespeople trained and knowledgeable? Do they know how to find buyer problems and set out as if on a quest to solve them?

Or are you like most organizations who have built inside out service models and you hear executives challenged by “how our clients just are not smart enough to see the value in what we provide.” Or maybe you have downsized your sales and customer service teams and you are wondering why your business is declining and your customer satisfaction is at an all time low?

Luke warm team members produce Luke warm service levels.

The Bible discusses how being Luke warm is worst than being hot or cold and this rule also applies to your team members. I would much prefer a team member who tells me: “I just don’t get our plan and I am having a hard time getting motivated to execute my indicators” than someone who says they are on board and is just going through the motions to just get by.

As I discussed in my post: Third Part of truth …Motivation; Are You willing to go the extra mile like Chick-fil-A?  As a consumer we instantly recognize good service and an organization that has clearly set an expectation for how customers should feel in the buying process.

I need to ask…How you want your customers to feel in the process of buying your goods and or services.

Once you intentionally create this vision, you will need to identify team members who will need to be trained, and in some cases replaced.

14 warning signs a team member may be Luke warm and negatively impacting their service to internal and external customers

1.)    They do what they believe is expected of them and only what they believe is expected of them

2.)    They choose to follow Hippos, they do what is politically correct but may not be right

3.)    They are striving to survive not win

4.)    They rarely share their knowledge and experience as they use knowledge as power and not a gift

5.)    They focus on comparing their results to that of other team members versus their key performance indicators

6.)    Their actions serve themselves more than others ( customers both internal and external)

7.)    Their service is conditional, selective, and often comes with strings attached

8.)    They are focused on today and what’s in it for them today, they lack a future vision

9.)    They spend more time with their bosses than their subordinates and customers

10)    They do the bare minimum , and their goal is to be “good enough”

11)    They play it safe, they know the rules better than anyone in the organization and often site them

12)    They are visually busy, but not necessarily adding value

13)    When things go wrong they quickly blame others

14)    They seek the safety of their silo’s, and lack a “one company-one team” mentality

A half hearted commitment to the organization’s plan; mission and vision can be felt by customers. A Luke warm commitment to service disrupts your team from within and in the market if left unchecked.

If you read the above and could apply at least four of them to specific team members; employees, managers, supervisors, you now have to ask yourself a tough question;

Will I be a Luke warm leader and look the other way? Or will I take the market leader position and address poor service resulting in a bad buying experience?

 

 

 

What about your organization?

 

When you read the above did specific employees come to mind?

 

How about you, did you personally identify with any of the above?

 

How have you helped Luke warm employees become energized value adding producers again?

 

Have you experienced a loss due to not addressing a Luke warm employee and you would like to share?

 

What should you do if your boss is Luke warm?

 

 

Thank you to Francis Chan for his book; Crazy Love, as it challenged me on many levels.

Are You willing to go the extra mile in customer service like Chick-fil-A?

A third key consideration for leaders and owners of businesses when building upon a foundation of truth is your Motivation. Specifically what are your real objectives and motivation for your business? I often find when helping clients about six months into an engagement the leader’s true motivation is shared once trust is built. It is often not the stated goal and the team are executing strategies and tactics that are not in alignment with the real objective. So early in my relationship with a new client I seek out the leader’s true motivation.

Some common objectives include;

want to be cash positive by (date)

want to retire, so build this business and position it for a sale

want to give this business to my children, please set the business and my children up to win

want to sell my business

want to grow at least 20% per year

want more profitable customers and less of those who do not truly value my product or service

The common objectives are usually stated as “I want’s” not what they plan do for their markets. However market leaders consistently speak in a voice that discusses the difference they plan to make in the lives of their customers.

One of my favorite fast food stops is Chick-Fil-A. I hesitate in calling this fast food as the food I receive is good and the people who work at Chick-Fil-A treat you like you are their only customer. As I travel throughout the US, if I need to grab a quick lunch I look for the nearest Chick fil-A. I order my food and at the end of each service experience I consistently hear “my pleasure”. As I look around the restaurant I am always amazed at the amount of activity they consistently execute to add value for the customers they serve. This week they posted pictures of a gingerbread house making event they held last week and in the future a Christmas ornament making class for children.

When others are afraid to not be politically correct the person at the counter in Akron said “thank you, and have a Merry Christmas, God bless you and your family.” At first this was such an interruption it caused me to pause. It’s sad really when wishing someone a merry Christmas is an interruption, but as the recipient I can’t say how much this meant to me. Traveling this time of year is difficult and for a brief moment I did not feel alone.

So how do large organizations consistently execute a service level above and beyond the expectation? It starts with their leader, and the leader sharing their true motivation. A few years ago I attended a Christian business event and the president of Chick fil A , Dan Cathy ,was the speaker. He shared how they are a faith based company built on biblical principles. You can listen to him yourself as he talks about his team here. One of their key tenants was “going the extra mile”. This is in reference to the Bible passage in Matthew 5:41 . As the owner and president of Chick fil A spoke, he shared how going the extra mile for a busy mom is pulling out her chair and putting fresh ground pepper on her salad. He shared how it actually, form a cost stand point, costs very little, however the impact they consistently see in sales increases year over year are significant, , or as their website states; “we are here to serve more than sandwiches”. They have seen consistent growth for the past 41 years.

Market leader’s focus on a goal bigger than themselves and their personal desires.

Market leaders are on a quest to make a difference for their market and customers in their markets they serve.

How about you and your organization…are you on a quest to make a difference in the lives of your customers?

Or are your employees shouting “next” and supplying the bare minimum?or good enough?

Is your team on a quest? Or are they working a plan they signed up for but honestly where never committed to?

If you have an opportunity, go to a Chick-fil- A for lunch and decide…is this how you are making your customers feel?

The good news is you can!

If you currently are not on a quest…find one!

Once you understand current market truths, and you have identified your internal truths, you must understand your leader’s and your team’s motivation. Market leading teams sign up for a goal that is bigger than them and meeting ROI’s. They sign up for quest’s to make a difference in the lives of those they serve…and interesting their financial results consistently outpace their competitors.

Entrepreneurial Best Practices: #17 intentionally reward the customer behaviors you desire …

wolf 

There is an old Native American saying; “the wolf you feed is the one that grows”. Simply put, the behaviors we reward are those that are repeated. With that understanding it is critical market leaders intentionally reward customer behaviors they want and make customers pay for those that are not in alignment with your overall flight plan.

I flew back to Ohio last weekend on Delta/ Northwest to work with one of my new clients just outside of Columbus. At one point in my career I flew 3-4 days per week, every week, for just over 15 years so I guess I could wear the “road warrior” title. Back then air travel was not perfect, but it was at least predictable. I felt like the airlines and their employees valued my patronage.

On this trip I was greeted at check-in with a $20 fee to check my bag. Although I was aware Delta still charged a fee, it was an interruption for me as most of my flights this year have been with Southwest Airlines who does not charge for a checked bag. When I fly Southwest I feel valued, and the attendants and all their employees make me feel like a valued customer. When I flew Delta / Northwest this week I felt like a number, and I felt like I was being nickel and dimed.

So we board the flight and I noticed the amount of carryon baggage other people were trying to fit in overheads and under their seats. When I used to travel on British Airlines in Europe I was conditioned to check my bags and have a small carry on. As I watched people with panicked looks trying to stow their bags it dawned on me; the customers are responding to the charge for checked bags. Not only did we miss our departure time and take a considerable amount of time to board because some of the passengers bags had to be checked after all, but when we landed it also took a great deal of time to get off the plane. I noticed how slow things seemed to be moving so I timed how long from when the cabin door opened it would take for me, in row 23 to get off the plane. It took 13 minutes for me to walk through the cabin door.

Contrast the above experience with my flights on Southwest. People still have carryon bags but not nearly the amount I experienced on Delta / Northwest. Southwest is one of the most profitable airlines and interestingly they do not nickel and dime their customers. From what I understand one of the reasons Southwest is more profitable is their fast turnaround time at the gate.

As I walked to my connecting flight I thought about what I just experienced and was reminded how we teach our customers how to behave by the rules and rewards we offer them.

The key is market leaders understand to intentionally reward those behaviors that are in alignment with their team’s overall vision and flight plan for their business.

Market losers like Delta/ Northwest charge their clients because they can and not because they should with little regard for the overall big picture of profitability driven by turnaround at the gate due to quick boarding and unloading of passengers.

What about your organization….

What behaviors are you rewarding?

Are those behaviors in alignment with your overall vision and flight plan for your business?

What wolf are you feeding? And is that the wolf you really want to grow?

Do you have other examples of corporate led initiatives that feel like tripping over dollars to pick up pennies? If so please share…

For those in leadership positions at Delta / Northwest you have an opportunity to be seen as a market leading partner by your customers, or a market loser…it truly is your choice. You must focus on the flight plan you have developed to drive shareholder value and I hope overall customer experience is high on your intentional initiatives.

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #10 “How” you “CHASE” New Business Matters….Do you want pepperoni with that new checking account?

blog pics, tyler apt,kecia riely 112

I have heard entrepreneurs say; “any marketing is better than no marketing at all…” and they can say this…but they would be wrong! Entrepreneurial leaders must insure the marketing vehicles and tactics  they use support their brand and do not create an interruption.

 

 

Market leaders understand their buyers, their buying process and buying criteria.

 

Market leaders create sales velocity because everything they do has continuity with their brand.

 

 

Market losers create a variety of marketing tools and “throw them against the wall” of their market and wait to… “see what sticks”.

 

Market losers scare business away, and their energy and budgets are used to grow competitors’ businesses.

 

I Love being a Chase Bank customer.

 

I have used a number of banks over the years…Bank of America, Key Corp, and so on. However the service I get from Chase Bank seems to feel different, it’s as if they know me, and they answer my questions before I ask them. Just yesterday my wife and I met with Dennis at our local branch and he was obviously trained to serve his clients. When other banks have made us feel like we were putting their associates out , Dennis was like the Van’s Golf employees name tags that say “sure not problem” Even the experience of walking into one of their locations “feels” different in how you are greeted and guided to the right person to help you. So imagine my surprise after a doctor appointment to come out to my car and see a windshield flier under my wiper from Chase Bank. This was an interruption for me.

blog pics, tyler apt,kecia riely 111

 

Marketing interruptions make current customers pause…and bad things happen when customers pause.

 

For example, at first I smiled and threw their flier in my trunk to throw away later. As I drove to my next appointment however my mind wandered…

I have been reading about banks in trouble

 

Is my bank…Chase Bank, in trouble?

 

Should I maybe check out Wells Fargo or maybe open an account with Bank America again just to play it safe?

 

Didn’t I just read they were downsizing?…. ut oh

However my mind quickly came to terms with what has a higher probability of truth; It was the end of August ( end of the month race to hit numbers), and some salesperson , a hunter by nature ( which is awesome) needed business. So as opposed to sitting in the branch waiting for business to come to them, they took initiative and made some purple fliers and more than likely spent hours in the 104 degree Arizona heat stuffing them under windshield wipers in hopes this would drive new business. I had a pizza shop as a client years ago that could ramp up or down his sales by the number of windshield fliers he would have his drivers place. It became a predictable outcome for him over time.

blog pics, tyler apt,kecia riely 113

However, the way a pizza shop or even a gas station chases new business is significantly different than what I would expect from my trusted bank, and the two should never be confused.

As I discussed, entrepreneurial leaders have bad things happen when they “assume”. “Well if windshield fliers work for pizza shops and gas stations…why not…” The “why not” is whatever you do must be intentional and have continuity with your brand image, your brand promise in the minds of buyers in your market.

In defense of Chase Bank, I have had rogue sales guys and even sales managers do much worst over the years. As I said I have to smile that at least they tried! Leaders, no matter what the size of their organization, must remember;

If marketing does not create tools that help salespeople hit their objectives, sales will create their own…and although you appreciate their “be a part of the solution” attitude it may cause your market to pause. When markets experience a pause, an interruption in the brand image …bad things happens.

 

 

How about your company…..

 

Are your salespeople creating their own tools to hit their numbers?

…Are you sure?

 

What policies and procedures do you have in place to insure your brand image is protected and reinforced?

 

Have you ever had your salespeople create their own tools…tell me about it.

 

 

From the number of fliers blowing around in the parking lot now as “marketing litter” I could tell most of the people who had fliers under their wipers did not value this communication attempt by Chase Bank. I would be interested to know from Chase Bank if this tactic is a marketing approved new business program or if I was correct a local branch went off the marketing reservation. If this tactic does in fact drive needed new business at moth end that is greater the negative impact it has on their brand in the mind of the market.

Entrepreneur Best Practice; #5 Tailor Questions for your buyers that Illustrate your Expertise and Prepare you to Serve their Needs

steinmartlogo

When you are being served by a market leader you know it. When someone experienced in understanding the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing. When buyers experience this kind of service they buy, and they become raving fans for referrals.

 

Market leaders understand the value of knowing their buyers needs, criteria, and how the very questions they ask illustrate your knowledge and expertise.

 

As I have shared in previous posts, I decided in March I needed to lose weight. Since March of 09 I have now lost 70 lbs. The good news is I have a tremendous amount of energy, I feel healthier and I no longer need my blood pressure medicine or my sleep apnea machine. The only bad news is I need a new wardrobe.

I was recently asked to be the keynote speaker for the Boomerz event and I wanted to buy a suit. All the suits I have are 52 jackets and I swim in them now. I could deliver my content casual, but I would prefer to be more formal. (There I go showing my old school nature again) My wife recommended I look at the local Stein Mart as they have designer suits at significantly discounted prices.

suit

I went to a local Stein Mart and started trying on jackets to determine my size today. I was quickly approached by Howard, the floor salesman and asked if he could be of assistance. He asked …” what size are you?” and I explained that I do not know. So he quickly measured me and said you are really a 43 long, but let’s try a 44 long. As I was trying on various suits, Richard (who also worked in the men’s clothing) approached and asked me a number of questions;

 

What size do you typically wear? I explained I do not know as I just lost weight…

What size were you before? A 52 jacket and a 42 pant…

So you have always bought athletic cut suits? …how did he know that?

Did you typically buy Heart Shafter Marx? (How did he know?)

 

Did you play football? Yes…again how did he …?

What occasions will you be wearing this suit? I explained I do public speaking and training workshops and consulting…

So you will be on your feet most of the time? Yes…

Oh, this is the wrong suit for you…and he disappeared, and I liked that one…

Within a few minutes he came back with two suits I had not seen prior … (Forgive me but I thought to myself …oh great he probably just found two of the most expensive suits off the rack, and like a car salesman wanting me to take a test drive he put the new jacket on so I would fall in love with it and find the money)

The suit looked great, but felt snug…

Richard said; the suit lays exactly as it should on you; this suit is cut better for men built like you… (He must have detected my concern about the snug fit)

I can tell you are not used to wearing clothes that fit… are you? Kind of a bold question from someone who wants my money…

 

He went on to say …You told us early on you have lost a lot of weight…it’s not unusual when we are overweight to not have clothing that fits properly…this is how a suit is supposed to fit. Wow, they were listening to me…

He asked me to look into the corner of the mirrors so I could see the back of the suit, and he said; see how nice this lays on you? And he taught me how a suit is supposed to fit.

He asked; when you speak do you button your coat? (I never thought about it)

He went on to tell me; Gentlemen never button the top button and he recommended when I first greet my audience I have the middle button buttoned and then unbutton it as I begin to speak…( is this guy for real? Or is it that I have never met someone before who knew so much about men’s clothing as Howard and Richard?)

I decided to buy the suit they recommended and have the suit tailored…

Again, a new series of questions from Howard and Richard (I’ll spare you but you get the idea)

Howard asked …so when do you need the suit? I explained I have time its a few weeks away…

He said; no… When you pick up your suit we want you to come back and we will check everything with the actual shoes you plan to be wearing…again, amazing….I felt like I was not only in experienced good hands, but I felt like I was the only customer in the store…

As I went in the dressing room I forced myself to peek at the price and to my surprise it was the same price as the suits I originally was looking at! …He paid attention to my price target…

When I came out of the dressing room Howard handed me a claim ticket and went on to explain the date it would be ready, where it would be located that day. Again both Howard and Richard reminded me to try the suit on, bring the right shoes and if for whatever reason it did not look right they would have time to fix it as …they wanted me to feel good when I walked to the front of the room. …again wow!

I thanked them and they asked what I teach. I explained how I teach leaders how to treat customers the way they both just treated me. It turns out they both had over 25 years of experience and Richard served clients for over 30 years on a commission only basis prior to joining Stein Mart.

Since that time I have told over a dozen of my friends about what a welcome interruption it was to receive such amazing service. I told everyone about the team of Howard and Richard and if you want to have an expert serve and fit you, you need to visit them at the store on Shea near the 101 freeway in Scottsdale.

When you are being served by a market leader, someone experienced in serving the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing.

 

You can identify Market leaders by the questions they ask, and their bottom line.

 

Market leaders make you feel like your goal becomes their goal as well.

 

Market leaders not only want you happy, but they want to make you a raving fan.

 

How about your organization….

 

Are your salespeople trained as well as Howard and Richard?

 

Are you hiring “service people” or “salespeople”?

 

Is your team creating raving fans?

 

Do your clients feel like your team members are “internal champions” for their needs …or just trying to hit a goal and make their commission?

 

(In hind sight I now wish I had the guts to have the pants cut without a cuff as Richard adamantly recommended, but I chose cuffs …obviously showing my lack of knowledge in the current styles.)

 

Remember… buyer’s like to buy…they hate being sold.

 

Our job as salespeople today is to help buyers buy.

 

Guide buyers through their buying process and be their internal champion and not just “protect the fort” of company policies, rules and reinforce “we can’t do that’s

 

Thank you Howard and Richard!

 

I can only hope I make my clients feel as you both made me feel.

 

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #7: Asking…and not listening to your market, is worst than not asking at all…

header harry michel

A number of organizations are so focused to achieving their objectives that they stop listening to their market. Oh, they ask the right questions, (like they are supposed to) but they only hear the answers that are in alignment with their internal goals, understanding, and historical data. The market (your market) has changed as I discussed in my post interviewing salespeople. So asking open ended questions in your market is imperative to gaining current information and understanding the buying process of today’s market. When organizations ask, but not authentically listen, they create more damage in the trust between their team and their market than if they never would have asked in the first place.

I received an email invitation to attend a telephone town hall being held by Harry Mitchell. What the message said was;

U.S. Rep. Harry Mitchell will participate in two live telephone town hall meetings to discuss the issue of health care and health insurance reform on Wednesday, August 26, with individuals residing in Arizona’s Fifth Congressional District.

“I believe that the telephone town hall format maximizes the ability to engage respectfully on the issue with folks across the district,” Mitchell said. “Reaching more people and taking more questions provides an opportunity to constructively listen to the thoughts, concerns and opinions of people and to answer their questions about the proposals in Congress.  I also want to highlight the provisions where there is bipartisan agreement and on benchmarks I believe should be met in order to gain my support.”

I have followed Harry Mitchell since moving to Arizona and what appeals to me is he seems to be a regular guy, someone I could call and have a conversation with. Someone, unlike a number of representatives in Washington, he is one of us. On his website he does a much better job than the Obama administration in clearly stating his views;

As I meet with people throughout the district, many have shared with me personal stories about health care.  Like most Arizonans, I believe that rising costs and the threat of losing existing coverage is cause for great concern.

Our health care system needs reform and I believe that it should be comprehensive. Reform should not only improve access to affordable and quality care for all Americans, but it also needs to also preserve individual choice and protect competition in the marketplace.  Reform should not leave individuals with fewer options, should not add to the national deficit, and should not leave doctors with inconsistent and low reimbursement rates as is often the case with Medicare.

This page closes with:

While our advances in the health care system are the envy of the world, too many Arizona families and businesses are facing skyrocketing costs, the threat of losing coverage, or denied care by their insurance companies.  Reform needs to protect what works and fix what doesn’t.  Any solution must first start with an open and honest conversation that gives all of the stakeholders in the debate a seat at the table.  That includes you.

As legislation works its way through Congress, I will continue to review the bill and monitor its changes.  I have also created this resource page where you can also read the bill, access information about the legislative process, and contact me with your thoughts.

Awesome, he clearly has done what I ask business leaders to do;

go out into your market, discover their needs and unresolved problems listen and do not try to overcome their objections…

Here’s my concern; Is a telephone conference call truly the best venue for you Harry, and your brand?

I do not think so, and I think it will be the biggest strategy mistake in your career….but I may be wrong. For me it is an interruption in your Brand. But then again all who Am I? I live in Arizona, I am a Republican, and I help business people connect with their markets which ultimately results in explosive growth. However, what this “feels” like is you are trying to control the voice of the customer. Whoever recommended a telephone conference, in my opinion, should be asked to serve in another capacity on your staff. I thought it might just be me, so I asked a number of friends, and unfortunately perception is reality and the perception is you are afraid, and you want to control the venue. The reality may be you truly want to serve more people in a better way; however the execution does not match your Brand so we are Branding you by Default.

I tried to sign up for the telephone conference but your web site said;

Note: Due to heavy traffic, we are experiencing delays with our email system. If you encounter difficulties, please return later and try again.

Did you not expect heavy traffic? Did your advisor not research what was necessary to support this venue, support you?

Here’s the problem, we the American people have lost trust. The shame is you “feel” like a great , Authentic guy next door, (like someone I wrote about ), however this teleconference “feels” like you will be “telling and selling” not listening.

It feels like you are trying to control the voice of your customers and shape a confirmation of what you already believe and not listen and learn.

When you ask buyers why they do not buy, most think it is price, or the product is not right…but what buyers tell you the top two reasons are;

#1 the salesperson did not listen

#2 they did not understand my problem

Keep in mind, as consumers, we Love to buy…we hate being sold!

I truly hope your motivation was to reach more people and provide a positive venue to address real questions. I was not able to participate but I hope to hear from those that do. However, if you are trying to control the voices of your marketplace, stop, and have someone on your staff buy you a copy of a book titled: World Wide Rave.

How about your business…

Are you asking and not listening?

Are you trying to validate and support your beliefs or are you authentically listening and connecting to unmet needs?

Are you “selling and telling” or listening and solving?

Did you attend the teleconference? How did it make you “feel”?

You see, at the end of the day how markets “feel” about you, your company, your Brand, and if you and your team authentically Listens, Understands, and solves my problems affect their purchase decisions. Each purchase is a vote of confidence.

2009 Health Care Reform Initiative Lesson #3: Without a Clear Understanding of the Problems to be Solved, and Requirements, Development will Build Solutions Because They Can and Not Because They Should!

ipod bathroom 

 

Where a number of entrepreneurs make a costly mistake is in jumping into a new product launch and making a product launch checklist  without spending an adequate amount of time gaining an intimate market knowledge and building strategy. When this occurs, developers and engineers (Representatives) build things because they can not because they should.

How do we end up with a 1,000 page bill? ( few have read, and fewer understand?) Or an ipod station and toilet paper holder? Or a laptop that smells?…. ( by design)

Without a clear understanding of the problem you want to solve, and clear requirements and not understanding who you are solving them for, you will build stuff.

Developers are creative problem solvers. They want to be given problems and requirements. They go nuts if you also tell them how to solve it. Just as salespeople hate it when accounting tries to tell them how to sell more.

The inherent problem though lays in the fact developers also see problems that are real to them, that may not be market problems. So they have their “wish list” of solutions they want to introduce.

If you lack a clear definition of the problems you want to solve and the requirements needed and just “throw a challenge over the wall” two things will happen;

1. Development will create a perceived list of problems and prioritize them themselves.

2. Without a clear direction, they will build what they always wanted to build and not necessarily what the market needs or wants.

What happens next is even more dangerous. So you have shared your “big hairy audacious goal” with your market: “A Health Care reform bill before the August break”.

Not having a connection to the problems your team will connect to something…so the August goal is clear, measureable and written so they rally to meet that goal.

The achievement of the goal date becomes more important than solving the unresolved market problem.

When this occurs your team tunes out the market and its needs and tunes into the leaders goal ( and often ego).

Teams aligned around the wrong goal “tell and sell” versus “teach and share the problems they solved” and markets often rebel.

Buyers like to buy; they do not like to be sold.

With the power of social media, and the lack of alignment to the correct goal, a solution can launch and die within hours.

Market leaders understand the value in spending the time upfront, clearly defining the problem(s) they want to solve and developing requirements that set their developers up to win, and ultimately add value to the bottom line of the organization.

Market Losers are so focused on a delivery goal they Haste, and they waste. Focus on the wrong goal results in their team members thrashing around, starting and stopping and not able to develop revolutionary solutions that the market willing buys.

 

How about your organization….

 

Does your team throw things over the wall?

 

Do your developers ask for more information and the prioritization of requirements, or do they assume they know.

 

Has your company launched something because you could and not because you should? ….How’s that working for you?

“Dumb and Dumber, FOX and Warner and how they are Planning on Delaying Deliveries to Red Box

dumb and dumber

                                                                                  Lloyd and Harry reach Aspen on Scooter in Dumb and Dumber

 

FOX and Warner Bros delaying new movie releases to Red Box and other kiosk vendors is like watching a new release of Dumb and Dumber.

In the Wall Street Journal article: Warner Bros. aims to lift DVD sales, will delay arrival at rental kiosks. They discuss how they plan to delay new releases to DVD rental kiosks.

The movie studios are concerned about their DVD revenues.

The market is not only speaking, but screaming how they are raving fans of DVD rentals Kiosks like Red Box.

The current big customers like Blockbuster and others are posting over 22% losses in revenues when kiosks like Red Box are showing consistent and impressive gains. Call me crazy… but your market is speaking guys…can you hear me now? Red Box Kiosks are described as; “The hottest thing in movie rentals is as old as the Coke machine — and just as red.”Their CEO Gregg Kaplan said “We are incredibly proud to achieve 200 million rentals and 10,000 locations nationwide.”

The studios have a choice, they can try to “control” the market, the buyers, or they need to intimately understand the market, buyers and needs and not only embrace the new ways consumers wish to consume content but enable it.

Thirteen years of my work experience was serving the movie distribution, rental and mass retail. How Warner and Fox are behaving is no different than how they all were behaving worried that this new thing called “movie rental stores “would erode their box office revenues in the mid 1980”s.

Market losers try to control the market and they protected their current cash cows while ignoring the consumer’s voice. They ignore the bright lights of growth and change trying to tightly hold on to past business models their markets no longer value.

Market leaders spend time getting to know their market and they quickly understand consumers who rent movies also go to movie theaters and some even buy movies and collect them.

When we rent content it is about wanting entertainment in a convenient and cost effective way for me as a consumer. You can try to control us, however when you do we find other ways to solve our needs and often they are much more severe to your bottom line. Besides, how long will it be before one of your competing studios blinks? Didn’t we live this same scenario “back in the day” And what happened…aggressive smaller studios emerged understanding the needs of consumers and and one of you big guys blinked. Some of you held your ground (more stubborn and stupid, driven by your own needs and egos instead of being strategic marketers) and how did that work for you back then? I remember, do you?

I can remember the 28,000 independent video stores and large movie distributors placing pressure on the studios to not ship new video releases directly to this 14 store chain in Texas called Blockbuster. At the time they were buying through distributors like Big State, Commtron, Ingram, and others. Well that little chain of 14 video rental stores quickly became a market leader.

I am a huge fan of Red Box.

They solve problems for me;

· I want to rent a DVD fast, I like the experience

· I want to rent a DVD and do my grocery shopping in one trip, in one location, one stop ( I am already late for dinner)

· I do not want to pay what Blockbuster charges , no late fees …but still a lot more than $1.00

· I only want the movie for one night

· I don’t want to have to join Net flicks or others and pre plan my month of movie viewing

· At a $1.00 rental, I feel like I receive a value , if I like it I go to Wal Mart and buy it

· I do not want to have to “shop” at a movie rental store only to find out they have all the new releases checked out

· I do not want to pay more for a new release than an older movie

· I do not want to buy movies through my cable provider as they are already raping me with what they charge

· The box office theaters are increasing their prices ( again, feels like they are thinking about their own needs and not mine)

So what are you going to do Dumb and Dumber? Are you going to repeat the past and focus on your needs or are you going to understand the market, it’s consumers and our changing needs and not only enable us to enjoy movie entertainment, but who knows you may even find new products and serves that solve our unresolved problems that Red Box fails to solve?

When I wrote my post : Attention leaders: Don’t look now but your lack of market knowledge is showing… I was talking about companies like you that have lost touch with their markets and they guess , assume, and use their gut and intuitions as their way of hitting their goals. They make inside-out versus market -in decisions and their shareholder values decline rapidly.

Your choice…focus on your internal needs and try to control the market… Or gain an intimate knowledge of your market today and it’s consumers like me and build products and service delivery systems that serve me and solve my unresolved problems.

Oh I can hear the movie exec’s now…”easy for you to say, we have billions at stake here.” Well you are right, you do. But you will eventually supply the kiosk companies with new releases at the same time as others. While you figure it out, Red Box will go to a mass retail store on the day of the new release and buy them. While you figure this out you will remove profit from your movie distributors.

So the question is how long do you want to be a “buggy whip” manufacturer saying this horseless carriage is a fad? Or, do you embrace your market, its changes and evolve into a new company that meets our needs today and into the future?

Maybe you develop a “imovies” since my kids seem to download their favorite DVD’s onto Apple laptops? The only hassle is the download from the disc. Not a big deal, but maybe you take the time to understand why they are doing this, the problem it solves for them and solve it brillantly?

We are all watching…

How about your company….

Are you trying to control your market? How’s that working for you?

Are you trying to control your vendors trying to slow down a new service model in your industry?

Are you the buggy whip manufacturer saying this new horseless carriage is a fad and will never last?

Or are you studying your market, your consumers and intimately understanding what and why they do what they do?

All is not lost by the way as some forward thinking buggy whip manufactures found as they learned to make leather seating for these horseless carriages.

Trying to control a market is foolish and expensive. Understand and embrace your market and become a market leader, not a market loser.

More Big-Money-Wasted by BMW in new ad campaign? We will have to wait and see…

I read an article on BrandWeek today by Anthony Crupi titled: BMW Pumps Diesel and Anthony did a particularly good job in grasping BMW’s objectives behind what we are about to see in a new BMW ad;

“For us, it’s about changing the perception that diesel is still that noisy and smelly [technology] many people remember from the ‘70s.” “For us, it’s about changing the perception that diesel is still that noisy and smelly [technology] many people remember from the ‘70s.”

The trouble is, as a potential consumer of one of your driving machines…I really do not care Patrick (the guy in charge at BMW) what it is about “for you”.

What problem are you solving for me?

Affluent Americans don’t want to sacrifice performance for fuel efficiency,” McKenna said. “The 335d can go from 0-60 [mph] in 6 seconds flat …That’s immediate power.”

Now you are talking!

But what about starting my diesel car at the Cleveland airport in the winters…did you solve this?

Although not as focused on the environment and fuel efficiency as I should be, I do follow the cost per gallon of fuel, and if I am not mistaken, one of the historical advantages of why consumers chose diesel vehicles was the lower cost per gallon.

On the one side you have Mercedes, who did a great job of connecting their product to; Luxury, power and torch, and longevity (they run forever)

On the other side you have VW who have raving fans of their economical diesel vehicles that are fun to drive and last forever as well. VW too is tapping consumers on the shoulder today with a message of ““Better performance AND higher gas mileage than a Prius”.

From my days in international sales I still have relationships with past JV partners in Germany that are now friends and they openly share how fun their BMW 3 series are to drive.

GO TALK WITH CURRENT RAVING FANS NOW; CONNECT TO THEIR VOICE, THEIR PASSION, CLEARLY UNDERSTAND, IN THEIR VOICE THE PROBLEMS YOU SOLVE.

What this “feels” like is you are trying to win the hearts and pocket books of “potentials” those people who are not current customers, and are not currently shopping, but thinking about diesel vehicles? So you are actively attacking their perceived problems with your solution. Your current raving fans in the US who own M5’s will pass on your new offering.

So who is your targeted buyer persona?

New buyers of diesel vehicles are more likely to swing into VW’s camp as their position is clearly defined if their need is; fun to drive, economical, and longevity. If what they want is performance and Luxury, they will swing to Mercedes who currently owns this position.

Is this Product Launch (re launch really as you are one of the leaders in diesel vehicles in Europe) an example of “Right idea but late?” We will see…

I am looking forward to see this ad, as I am a huge fan of your vehicles, engineering, fit and finish, just not a fan of your execution of marketing “messaging” as of late as I discussed in my blog post : The Expression of Joy Ad campaign by BMW; May be an Expression of Big Money Wasted http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/the-expression-of-joy-ad-campaign-by-bmw-may-be-an-expression-of-big-money-wasted/ . Business leaders follow you “Big Guys” and I would hate to see smaller businesses clouding their messaging with “creative that requires an interpreter”. (But there I go again being a ROI driven Neanderthal)

Again Patrick, you make amazing vehicles, but because of that my expectation is your messaging will also be amazing. To be amazing I want to “get it” when I see it, and not be like everyone else in a packed movie theater and groan when your ad is played.

I want you to clearly state the problem you solve for me. I do not want some “foo foo marketing creative” that requires an interpreter, because then BMW means Big – Money- Wasted to me.

 

How about your business….

 

Does a big expensive ad add value in your business?

 

Or do they send a message you are disconnected to the market’s true needs?

 

Or worst, do these big budget ads and media buys make you, as a loyal customer feel you must have over paid for their product if they can afford such Big Money Wasted?

 

I predict this campaign will be a flop if I need an art director to explain it to me and they do not explain their distinctive competence clearly with an emotional attachment  that resonates with me.