It should go without saying that your business is not really about you. It’s about the “other” guy, your customers. This was one of the first things I learned as an Event Marketer/PR Consultant. The best most successful marketing programs and PR strategies focus on others and not on you.
When you’re running your business day to day it’s easy to forget that it’s not all about YOU. I know, that may be a bit of an ouch for some, but for others, they are cheering as they read this because they understand what it means. Yes, it’s your business, your idea, your hard work even your money when it comes in, but in order for your business to grow and make a lasting impact it has to focus on what it can do for others. How can it solve a problem, meet a need, answer a question or provide inspiration. Whose story do you want to tell? And how much is it worth. For example, you have an air filter company. You decide to send out a newsletter to your customers as a way to stay in contact. In your first issue you write about how you and your son Bobby have built a nice air filter business. You even post a photo of you and your son looking happily successful. That makes your customers feel good and they will remember the nice father-son moment photo. It may even make them think of their own father. That’s your pay off, they remember you. But they don’t necessarily buy from you.
However, what if your first newsletter focused on Katie’s Hospice Care? You write about how Katie’s Hospice Care was having a difficult time keeping the staff for getting overwhelmed by colds, allergies and other air pollutants. Katie ordered one of your filters and placed it in the staff work area, in short time finds that everyone feels better and they are not going through boxes of tissues at the rate they were before. And, as an extra added benefit the patients in the hospice are breathing better. Katie orders more air filters for all of the community rooms and the employees feel so good that they order air filters for their homes. They also tell their friends about the company who helped everyone finally get past the draining cold bug they were passing back and forth. You tell Katie’s story in your newsletter making sure to focus on her and her hospice and you get the attention of others who want to tell their success stories and purchase your air filter.
This is the moment it is about you, because you have an opportunity to build a connection to your customer by making a great sale which should start a long relationship.
It’s hard to get some business owners to understand that customers care about finding and getting on their own road to success. They want service that will focus on them. This understanding is gold for the few smart people who get it.
In the book The Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann, business man Joe’s life is transformed when he, through a series of events and wise counsel comes to understand the sheer power of focusing on others. At first he’s not so sure of the giver “idea” but in time he experiences for himself the impact that making his business about others has.
The dollars are out there and even in this uncertain time, people are willing to part with their treasured bucks for a meaningful offering or a great bargain.
How do you make your business meaningful? Simple, think about your customer, in fact walk through the steps that your customer walks through when doing business with you. What is that experience like? Are you kind to them? People under rate the simple act of kindness and often overlook the connection that kindness gives to their customers. Just thanking your customers for their business or welcoming them to your service goes very, very far. Are you one of those companies who has everything in place to make the sale and once it’s made you ditch your new found “networking partner” never to be heard from again, until you want the next sale? If this is your style I strongly urge you to consider changing it. Not because of what’s in it for you, but what’s in it for them.
With the economic climate shaky and uncertain, it’s important that you guard yourself from getting into survival mode and trying to grab every dollar as it passes by. In time, people come to know you as a company who is only concerned about what you “get” from them vs. what you give. The gap will widen between the businesses that are growing and those that sink. Those businesses who master the art of caring for their customers will win out while others fall by the wayside.
I mentioned your customer as your “networking partner”. That’s what they are. The new networking model includes your customers, service providers and even the person who cleans your office. These are the people who spread the word about who you are and what you are about. They will talk about you for good or for bad. While you can’t make everyone happy you can make a positive contribution to the chatter about you by letting it be known that you care.
Ken, a customer of a little specialty collectible website told me of his recent experience with a merchant. “I like what the guy has to offer and I’ve ordered from him a few times. However, each time we spoke the guy would just talk about him and anything that I said just fell to the ground. He was only interested in taking my money; he was not interested in me, even though we shared the same hobby. I was prepared to make a regular order from the site, but after a few times of his indifferent service I’ve decided not to keep giving him my business. I like his products, just don’t want to feel like I’m only a wallet to him.” We can all learn a lot from Ken’s story.
Your business, while you run and manage it can feed your ego or feed your life and the lives of others. What’s your choice?