Hit and Hope

My Dad is a very competitive guy. As kids he never used to let us win. It probably explains a few things about the way I am now. Snooker was one of his favourite games; I never used to have much patience for it, still don’t. He used to call all my shots “hit and hope”. Me blasting the cue ball around the table for fun, him cursing and calling it a “fluke” on the very rare occurrence I actually potted one.

How much hit and hope do you do daily? How many appointments are you simply “fluking”? It strikes me so many firms fail to use intelligent, targeted marketing for their offerings, instead opting to shout to the masses hoping something sticks. I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Companies buying in bulk lists, getting salespeople to cold call on the off-chance that someone might actually allow you to appoint them. Internet, phone, TV, radio, the medium doesn’t matter. What matters is the audience.

How relevant is your message to your audience? Are you wasting time on generating generic noise, shouting about stuff that nobody really cares about?

Think about how annoying junk mail is through your door, or worse still a badly timed cold call when you’re watching the football. Think about who really needs your offering and then work out a marketing strategy that’s timely, creative and above all relevant. Forget hit and hope. It’s not sustainable.

Dealing Drugs

Anyone who’s read the fantastic “Rework” by Jason Fried of 37 Signals will hopefully share my view of how inspirational it is. Jason shares his story on how he and his team built a globally successful software company with no outside investment, no real business plan and no ivory tower office.

In the chapter titled “Promotion” Jason makes reference to drug dealers. He comments that products should be so good, so addictive, that your customers always come back for more. He suggests giving away small, free tasters so that clients return smiling, with cash in hand.

It’s an interesting concept. I grew my business in the corporate IT world; selling high-value, complex IT solutions. In the early days, we witnessed competitors focusing all their efforts on that one golden-ticket deal per year, only for it to end in tears when it didn’t come in. We decided to take a different approach.
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Moving with the Times

Understanding what your customer needs, not just what you create is a fundamental aspect of long-term growth and success. Think about what you are offering. Is it special? Is it unique in today’s market? Has it evolved over time? The world has changed; businesses need to change with it.

Customers want new ideas. Ideas which challenge the status quo and give them the competitive edge. Pushing product, in an old fashioned sales approach doesn’t cut it in today’s world. Be creative and innovative in every angle – Your marketing, your product, your service, your approach. Delivering what you’ve always done, simply because it worked ten years ago is a dangerous game.

Fear is Flawed

Throughout my career I’ve witnessed many departments and organisations where fear rules.

Employees constantly looking over their shoulder for the fear that the boss is watching. The freedom to inspire and delight customers impacted by ridiculous internal processes; dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s so that the boss will be happy. Zero signs of motivation, encouragement or inspiration from the higher ranks. Does anyone enjoy working in an environment like this?

What if the company mission and culture was simply to deliver outstanding service? To make customers smile every day. Would the iron fist ruling slowly vanish because customers are placing more orders?

It strikes me too much emphasis today is placed on ticking boxes, on internal controls and politics, on pleasing the boss. What if we focussed our efforts on delighting the customer? Empowered our teams to make the right decision for the customer, not for the rule book?

I think it’s worth a shot.

Waiting in Line

Grabbing a quick sandwich from the local supermarket at lunchtime is never fun. The chances are there are not enough tills open. Not enough staff. Zero sense of urgency.

The majority of us loathe to wait. Especially if we are in a hurry.

It was my Mum’s birthday yesterday. Like the good son I am, I chose to send her some flowers. Using Interflora’s fantastic website, the whole transaction was completed and paid for in minutes. All without leaving the comfort of my office. The flowers turned up in perfect condition. On time, exactly as I wanted. She was delighted and I was a happy customer guaranteed to return.
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Get Emotional

When building a business, there’s a tendency to shy away from sharing your journey. You focus on the product or the service, hoping this will sell itself.

When I started my company, my aim was to create something memorable. Something I could stand back and be proud of. Something that made a difference.

There is no doubt, as a business owner or CEO you have passion for what you do. If you don’t, then why do it right? The passion was visible, but I was forever frustrated that people weren’t connecting with the brand in a way that I wanted.
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