Roy's Blog: Small Business

November 13, 2017

How important is the product really?

Organizations take products too seriously.

They think products convey value and stress features, cool technology and price as the reasons why people should buy.

I think the product - centric strategy is severely flawed.

Products don’t make companies great. In a marketplace where benchmarking and best practices are relied on as the main vehicle of innovation, virtually every company in a given product space offers similar products.

The smartphone sector, for example, has a number of participants whose products, give or take, are essentially the same in terms of functionality and price.

All the same

Market participants claim that they have different features and that their prices are more attractive than others, but essentially they are all the same.

If products are relatively equal across all competitors, why are some companies awesome and others not so much?

It has little to do with products.

Rather it has everything to do with the company; the culture an organization wraps around it’s products and services; the context it provides for customers to engage with them.

These 12 uncomplicated moves enable organizations to provide the WOW! cushion to sell their products.

1. They recruit sensitive and caring people who have an innate desire to help others rather than place all the emphasis on their academic qualifications and related experience.

2. They have “friendly” technology dumbed down to express the value it creates for people rather than emphasizing the coolness of what it does. Technology intimidates some; they get that and try to remove the mystique.

3. They create policies and rules created to make it easy for customers to do business with them, not control the terms of engagement. They never use the words “It’s not our policy.”

4. They offer special promotions and deals first to their existing loyal customers rather than use them as an incentive to attract potential new customers. They look at special deals as a reward for customer loyalty not as a tool to entice new customers away from their current supplier.

Special promotion

5. They make substantial investments in the local communities where they operate, and emphasize their employees and the amount of personal time they give to the volunteering effort.

6. They routinely communicate with customers keeping them abreast of what’s new and available to them. They don’t believe in mass communications; they personalize each message to make it as meaningful and relevant as possible to each recipient.

7. They proactively reach out to their customers with lower cost product and service alternatives which could save them money over what they are currently using. Their priority is to ensure each customer has the most cost effective solution.

8. They have a fun esprit de corps culture where employees are allowed to be casual with customers. Informality puts customer engagement at ease and has them leaning in rather than leaning out.

9. They empower their service personnel to make decisions to resolve customer issues fast without the need to escalate the matter to their supervisor. They trust that their frontline will make balanced decisions that represent the needs of both the customer and the organization.

10. They are willing to provide advice to a customer to seek another organization’s product when they are unable to satisfy the customer’s need.

11. They have people available to take the customers call as an alternative to being managed by call answer technology. Their customer contact strategy is to make it easy for people to engage with them, not to force customers into using a tool of technology.

12. They treat their call centers as “loyalty centers” with the emphasis on taking care of the customer rather than processing their call quickly. Maintaining customer loyalty is the focus, not managing costs.

People don’t buy products.

They buy the instruments of organizations they admire, respect and are comfortable with; whose ideals match their own.

Organizations that want to stimulate product sales should build the right culture and sales will take care of themselves.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 11.13.17 at 03:59 am by Roy Osing
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November 6, 2017

The one simple thing remarkable leaders do

What defines a remarkable leader; what single thing separates the average leader from the standout leader?

There is no silver bullet to becoming a remarkable leader; rather it is the result of practicing a number of “little things” consistently, with unrelenting commitment and passion.

But there IS one role, however, if performed well, enhances leadership effectiveness and also enables a leader to stand apart from the crowd who practice their art from theory and textbooks.

How can I help

Strategy execution is THE key role that brilliant leaders apply most of their energy on.

Great leaders are defined by their accomplishments not by their intellectual prowess alone.

A great idea that dies on paper and can’t successfully implemented defines failure regardless how clever the idea is.

How does a leader build the competence to execute that others view with awe?

They spend their time in the frontline trenches where individuals serve customers and deliver, maintain and support the organization’s products and services.

And their message to the troops isn’t a declaration of lofty intent; it’s a down-to-earth question they ask of each team member constantly: “How can I help?”.

“How can I help?” releases superlative execution because it leads to the removal of the barriers that prevent individuals from performing their roles effectively.

When there is pervasive smooth and seamless role performance, systems and procedures function well, promises to customers are consistently kept, product and service breakdowns are minimized, customer service perception is high, mistakes are reduced and rework costs are avoided.

In addition to enabling effective execution, “How can I help?” offers other key strategic benefits.

1. It promotes quality improvement and cost reduction. Front-liners know how things should be done right the first time as well as what needs fixing.

2. It drives innovation by pulling up and shining a light on the creative ideas of every employee and particularly frontline employees closest to the customer.

3. It stimulates employee engagement by reaching out to people and using their ideas to make the “internal world” of the organization easier and more productive.

4. It facilitates competitive advantage by out hustling others who are plagued with ineffective procedures and systems, “dumb rules” and dysfunctional execution.

5. It leads to a reduction in employee turnover. People are less inclined to switch employers when they feel they are making a positive contribution and are valued for doing so.

One simple question.

Numerous strategic benefits.

If you’re looking for the ONE action to take to become an amazing leader like no other, start with asking the question.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 11.6.17 at 04:19 am by Roy Osing
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October 30, 2017

How to avoid being a startup loser

So you have an awesome idea for a new business. You think you can make a difference in the world and make tons of money like some others before you have. How should you proceed?

What do you have to do to turn your “brave idea” into a “crude deed?

First you need to know that the odds that you will succeed in the long run are not that great. Many studies conclude the same thing, that around 30 percent of new businesses make it to 2 years while only half are still around after 5 years.

The herd of losers is HUGE and growing.

Startup loser

Why do so many die?

- Economies throughout the world are volatile and unpredictable;

- Competition is super intense; new competitors enter markets at a blistering rate;

- New technology “rains down” relentlessly disrupting the flow of plans;

- Markets are cluttered with sameness; products and services are undifferentiated and competitive claims are lost in the crowd;

- Customers are more empowered than ever before, establishing relationships with suppliers that deliver distinctive solutions and ignoring those that don’t.

What do the survivors look like?

Those that are able to survive and win are DiFFERENT from their competitors.

They survive the scrutiny of the discriminating customer by providing relevant, compelling value that is unmatched by their competitors.

Those that have no distinctive identity simply don’t make it.

They die.

Answer these 3 questions and discover how you can beat the odds of long term success.

Q1. Why do many companies who have been around a while fail?

a) They cease being relevant to their customers ✅

b) They don’t advertise enough

c) Their cost structure is too high

d) Their revenues decline

They get too smug and comfortable and take their existing customers for granted.

Survivors

Survivors remain relevant and invest substantial resources to stay there.

When you are up and running, never feel entitled to your current revenue stream. You have to go out and earn it every day!

Q2. What is the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make when starting a new business?

a) They fail to attract great sales people

b) They don’t advertise enough

c) They don’t test their idea with potential customers

d) Their business idea is not different from their competition in a way people care about ✅

Your idea must resonate with people; it must address something the CARE about and it must be different than anything else out there.

It’s not about gee-whiz technology and all the cool things it can do.

It’s more about captivating someone with what they can do “with your thing” and that they can ONLY get it from you.

Don’t launch your new idea until it passes this test.

Q3. What is the most critical thing to look for in recruiting people to join your team?

a) The innate desire to serve other people ✅

b) Social media expertise

c) Technology skills

d) A powerful personal network

The other attributes are important, but at the end of the day successful business is about building relationships with, and caring about other people.

Ensure that the individuals you recruit have demonstrated skills and experience in helping their fellow human beings. That’s what drives amazing customer service which is a key differentiator.

Change the world by being the ONLY one that does what you do with people that “love” human beings.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 10.30.17 at 03:10 am by Roy Osing
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September 4, 2017

What happens when you bait people rather than reward them?

Should a special marketing promotion be positioned as bait or as a reward?

I think one of the travesties of today’s marketing is the special promotion designed to bait or attract new customers.

You know how the baiting method goes.

“Sign up to our service today and get 3 months service free”; or “If you switch from your current provider to our service we’ll give you a free TV”.

Marketers today will do almost anything to attract a new customer. For some reason new customer acquisition programs are “sexy”, fun to work on, and consume a substantial chunk of most marketing budgets.

Bait marketing

There are two main issues I have with this bait marketing approach.

First, it’s lazy marketing. The easiest thing to do is to give stuff away with the mistaken belief that if you do, the recipient of the gift will somehow feel obligated to enter your loyalty tent and remain dutiful henceforth.

What a joke.

Despite the studies marketers trot out, people value what they pay for, and if they pay nothing to move from another supplier to you they laugh under their breath and wait for the next juvenile marketer who comes along and makes you a better offer. And when they find one, bye-bye.

Second, bait marketing is not only an insult to the loyal customers who have given themselves to your organization for years, it’s also intellectually dishonest.

Existing customers rarely qualify for the bait deal. The free TV is NEVER offered to the customer who has been loyal for 5 or 10 years!

They have steadfastly paid their bill on time every month. They have put up with the odd price increase and policy change but their loyalty has been resolute.

And they have rarely been offered a deal on anything. They may have been thanked for their loyalty with words or an annual free calendar, but certainly nothing as substantial as the person being baited.

And when they discover that a special promotion is being offered to new customers and ask for the same deal they are told “I’m sorry you don’t qualify for this promotion”.

How do they feel? Second rate? Third rate? Don’t rate?

Reward or retention marketing may not be as sexy as its bait cousin, but special deals should be extended to existing customers FIRST!

Marketers will explain that it’s not done because it costs too much to reward every existing customer. And that it’s not necessary in any event as the chances of an existing customer moving to a competitor are low - after all people are generally reticent to change, right?

It’s nonsense of course. Sure, margins are reduced on the deal that is offered, but loyal buying behaviour is reinforced as is the propensity for loyal customers to refer you to others “with love” - with no bait acquisition costs!

And it may be true that a low percent of loyalists will switch suppliers.

But that’s not the point; rewarding loyalty is just the right thing to do isn’t it?

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.4.17 at 04:48 am by Roy Osing
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