The world is rapidly changing day by day. For businesses, that means having to keep up in order to stay relevant. One of the most important steps to take to not lose sight of your place in the market is by truly knowing the business you are in. In this episode, Gerry Foster takes the time to explain what it means to really offer value to your customers without getting replaced later on. He lays down some great examples of businesses to learn from, and touches on branding and understanding why relevance overpowers being just different.
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Know The Business You’re Truly In!
This is episode nine, Know the Business You’re Truly In. I’ve been in business long enough to know a few things. One of the things that I truly know is this. I don’t know what’s worse, saying that your brand can do A, B and C, and the customer says, “That’s great but what I want is D, E and F,” or you can say that your brand can do D, E and F, but they don’t care about that either. One of the major setbacks that I have discovered for so many small business owners is that their brand is not relevant, which means that they haven’t truly defined exactly what business they’re even in. This is a history lesson for many of you who may not realize this, but back in the ‘70s there was something called slide rules.
Slide rules were popular and were invented in the ‘50s. They became incredibly popular in the ‘50s and the ‘60s. All of a sudden, electronic pocket calculators came out of nowhere and we play slide rules around the middle of the ‘70s. The main reason for that is because the calculators were considered much more affordable. They were considered significantly easier to use by a mass amount of people. However, the branding lesson there was that if the makers of the slide rules had seen themselves in the business of making calculating easier, then they could have shifted from slide rules to electronic calculators. They could have seen that trend coming.
It’s like if you go back way in history in the days of horse and buggies. The story is about how the horse and buggy business was about horse and buggies as opposed to saying, “We’re in the transportation business.” In the early 1900s, a whole lot of these horse and buggy businesses went out of business because automobiles came out. If they had seen what was coming by being in the transportation business, then they could have maybe changed their buggies into automobiles. There have been other examples of this where people come out with something they think it’s great, and then something comes along and replaces it because they put a better spin on things. Does the name Myspace ring a bell to some of you? Facebook certainly does.
What happened to Blackberry? Blackberries are still around, but they’re not the smartphone of choice anymore. It’s more about having an iPhone or an Android. Whoever thought that Blockbuster would go out of business? Look at what’s happened to RadioShack. My point is that if your goal is to offer customers more of the things they value, then you need to be clear on exactly what those things are. I’ve been preaching a lot about being different. Being different is the hardest for branding. No question about it. To have a world-class brand for each of you, to have a brand that can make you a whole lot of money and bring you a lot of personal joy and fulfillment, a lot of it rests in your ability to stand apart from others. In this whole thing about being different, that pertains to the degree in which the public find your brand unique, different and distinctive enough so that they will prefer it, choose it and be loyal to it.
However, on top of that is this thing called relevance, which means that you’re putting something out into the marketplace that people care about. Because if they care about it, it means they find it significant, they find it something that is important to them that they will sit up and take notice of. It’s this whole thing about having what’s called brand appeal. It’s this whole thing about not just concentrating on what is significantly different about what you have, but it’s also about making sure that you are authentically different. You are putting something out into the marketplace that not only is better than everyone else, but it’s something that your preferred customer will value the most.
You’ve got to ask yourself first, “What business are you in?” A therapist, for example, is not just in the business of providing therapy. He or she might say that they’re also in the business of solving short-term emotional problems such as divorce, family, stress or trauma. I work out with a personal fitness trainer two days a week and he’s not just in the business of helping me and others lift weights in a gym. He’s also in the business of providing me the traditional tips. He gives me advice on how to optimize my cardiovascular system and doing whatever else is needed so that I can obtain optimal health. At this point, and all of this discussion of big branding and what it takes to rock your industry, your category, your space, your specialty. You may want to strongly consider broadening your thinking about what business you’re in. You may well end up defining it in a way that you hadn’t thought of before that will impact the kind of marketing in selling that you do later on in order to ramp up your sales.
Business Relevance: Brand appeal is not just about concentrating on what is significantly different about what you have. It’s also about making sure that you are authentically different.
Does it make sense? To do this, you’ve got to ask yourself, “If I’m going to clearly take a look at what business I’m in.” Take note of this. You want to identify the one component of value that you wish to highlight and raise to a level of excellence that will put all your competitors to shame. That means knowing what your ideal customers prefer the most. Where do they place their value? In another way, what are the key factors that your customers consider to be most important to them that will make your company more profitable?
For example, do they value the highest product quality you can give them? Could it be that they value the most comprehensive solution or your speed or turnaround time or how reliable, dependable and accurate you are? Maybe it’s that magical transformation that you bring forth or could it be that you are a technology leader or a category innovator? Could it be the prices you charge? How convenient is it to work with you? Could it be the state of the artwork you do? Is that your expert advice? Do you offer more customer service? It starts with narrowing down exactly where you want to leverage the strength of your brand. What are those things that you should be zeroing in on that will make your brand stand out and set you apart even more from all others that you are competing against?
This could also include any proprietary intellectual property or capital that you have. You might have some trade secrets. You might have some unique processes. You might have a special service delivery system, but it’s all part of you leveraging those things that are going to give your brand the biggest advantage possible in the marketplace. As we continue this episode, I’ll be getting much more into all of this stuff but ask yourself, “What business am I truly in?” Until next time, take care.
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