Inspirations/Quotations

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
—Henry Ford

And when someone is looking?

Quality is your chance to outshine every other Experience the customer has had. That’s Job One.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

The entrepreneur in us sees opportunities everywhere we look, but many people see only problems everywhere they look. The entrepreneur in us is more concerned with discriminating between opportunities than he or she is with failing to see the opportunities.
—Michael Gerber

The world is a crazy, topsy-turvy place right now.

I know it can be tough to invest in the future.

Heck, some days it’s hard to believe in the future. It’s tough to pull your head out of the muck enough to make short-term choices or long range plans that will grow your business…

… unless you stop seeing it as muck.

Funny thing about a topsy-turvy world—all sorts of things you might not normally see have been turned over, turned out, and turned toward you, if you’re willing to take a look. When all around us, things are completely different from the norm, it’s almost a guarantee that some quiet time will allow you to think in a fresh way.

Take some time to see the many opportunities that are everywhere you look today—and instead of grimacing at the problem ideas, have fun discriminating which is the best among them.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because they have information about a product or a service that the customer does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand. This explains the profitability of brands.
—Peter Drucker

The department store salesperson who created such a great Customer Experience for me (in yesterday’s post) had information I did not, for sure. I’d had the usual sales conversations with other folks in the weeks surrounding that trip, and no one had shared this info with me.

Yesterday’s post also prompted a few discussions off this site, confirming that I am not the only shopper who’d never heard of the method some stores use to keep some items on near-permanent sales. (When I worked as a retail buyer, we knew there were rules against permanent sales too, so we switched back and forth between similar items the way your grocery store switches between sales on Coke and Pepsi. But to sell the same item, with a different covering… surprising!) Good to know it’s not common knowledge that I’d missed, but it did make me think back to this old quotation from Peter Drucker.

While it’s true that there is power in knowing that an item will remain on sale forever, more sales power was given to the knowledge (in the case of this undecided window-shopper) by sharing it. Now I know that rather than having to decide-quick-or-find-another-store, I can decide slowly and come back to this store, the store where the staff was so helpful.

I don’t think this means Drucker is wrong, though. Instead I think it has to do with the second half of his statement—the power of brands.

In many industries, the power of the brand is essentially gone. Too many choices which are too similar, and are available from too many locations online and off, means that the item of your dreams comes down to intangibles—like Customer Experience.

Put another way, there are many industries in which the “brand” no longer sways sales as it once did.

Where Drucker misses the boat, for me, is in making a blanket statement about brand trust. Sure, I may trust a Cadillac more than a Hyundai (your customers still do make a lot of assumptions about price and quality), but if we’re looking at items in a similar price range many folks will do their research online and trust no one offline, no matter their name.

The market power that may be in trade secrets is no longer yours because you hang on to it tightly. It’s very likely that your brand doesn’t have that pull now.

With today’s customer, the power may be in giving that insider info away.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

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Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

If [hand-drawn animation] is a dying craft, we can’t do anything about it. Civilization moves on. Where are all the fresco painters now? Where are the landscape artists? What are they doing now? The world is changing. I have been very fortunate to be able to do the same job for 40 years. That’s rare in any era.
—Hayao Miyazaki

Yesterday, we discussed possibly-fading industries and what might (or should) be done about them); today, the great animator/auteur Hayao Miyazaki weighs in:

[Be amazing and] hang on longer than almost anyone else in a fading industry. Don’t worry too much about the way things are trending.

The funny thing is, that’s great advice whether you’re way ahead of the curve (at the forefront of an industry that’s just getting started) or the last of a breed.

In fact, Be amazing and hang on tenaciously is pretty fine advice no matter what your industry is up to.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

Our business in this world is
not to succeed, but to continue
to fail, in good spirits.
—Robert Louis Stevenson

To which I’ll add:

Fail out loud, if it’ll help to rally folks to your side. As Stevenson says, do it with grace.

Fail boldly, early, and often.

Never fail to ask for help. That’s been the true downfall of many a small business.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.
—Mary Kay Ash

A “million-dollar idea.”

Everybody’s got one.

Or wants one.

Or knows someone who’s got one, and is guarding it jealously.

Maybe you’re waiting for yours?

The thing about million-dollar ideas (and million-dollar-idea men and women) is that they’re a dime a dozen. This stymies some people, believing they’re not “ready” because some mystical lightning bolt hasn’t hit them yet, but you probably know at least one person who generates “great” ideas all the time—then does nothing with the ideas. Because lightning bolts rarely get up and do the dirty work for us.

So if you’re sitting around on your two-bit idea, worrying that you can’t make a go of it because it’s not The Next Big Thing, stop worrying.

You’ll make a go of it if YOU are the kind of person who can Make A Go Of Things.

If you can do your research and plan (further than you think!) in advance, stick with your plan for the long haul, create an Experience that’s worth talking about, and connect with your customers, you’ll make a go of it. Even if your widget is not the most original widget in the world.

While other people sit around, guarding their ideas, if you’re the type who can’t wait to make it happen, day in and day out, you don’t have to worry about whether the idea is worth a million dollars.

The real million-dollar idea is, “Let’s shout about this until we’re hoarse. Let’s get customers so thrilled that they shout about it. Let’s make this happen!”

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.
—David M. Ogilvy

There’s no room for sissies in business —if you want your business to grow.

Your message has got to be strong. Neither management nor customers will see how great your idea is unless you can present it as rocking-awesome. But wait, there’s more…

I had a chance to write a guest post at Copyblogger yesterday, talking about making your message more than strong—your message has got to be enchanting, to the right people, to help you drive sales. (If you haven’t read it, I’d love it if you’d click away for a minute to check it out!)

In that post I used the example of Guy Kawasaki, former Apple chief evangelist, current venture capitalist, author, and speaker—but not an overnight success at all, just a creative, original thinker and a good salesman—to show, in just a few steps, how you can strengthen your message with a little of your own enchanting magic.

Strong, enchanting message? Sure. But selling that message? Ay-yi! Sales, more than any other aspect of growing your business, is not for the faint of heart. “Selling” frankly scares some people to death.

Though they want their business to succeed, they hope that anything at all except being a salesman will make it succeed. And nothing will.

So one more little “secret” from Guy Kawasaki’s CV today: Re-name the thing that scares you. (A rose by any other name really will smell as sweet.)

Don’t think of it as “sales” anymore. Instead, be your company’s Chief Evangelist.

Try it for the next week:

Don’t try to sell anyone anything. Just tell ‘em why you love it. Why you believe in it. Why you invest your blood, sweat, and your 75-hours-a-week in it. Tell ‘em about the results Mrs. Jones got, and how her thank-you made your day.

In the modern world of business, even Mr. Ogilvy might agree—hard sales tactics have less and less power. But enthusing about what a great help your company has been, and how proud you are of the work you can do for folks? Glowing about the solutions you provide… the reasons why you (and your customers) go home happy?

That’s called being real. And these days, that’s Maximum (Selling) Experience.

And you didn’t even have to say the word.    😉

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.
—Marilyn vos Savant

How many people stop running a marathon when they’re “this close” to finishing?

How many people give up on their Vision when they’re “this close” to making it?

The numbers are bound to be very different. Practically zero for the first. Un-countable, and possibly uncomfortably high, for the second.

What’s the difference? The ability, training/ working, and dogged determination are there in both cases.

But in the second case, there’s no finish line (in sight). When you can’t see where you’re going, sometimes you think you aren’t getting anywhere.

So when the going gets rough for you, do be realistic. Maybe you are on the wrong path. It happens. But maybe you just have a couple of yards to go. Spend some time thinking about it and consulting with your trusted advisors.

If it’s only a temporary condition, don’t give up (and make it permanent) when you’re right about to break through.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people who are convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another.
—Ellen Goodman

The essence of your small business. The essence of mine. Working hard, making small changes—for ourselves, our families, and for the larger community.

Pretty awesome. Keep on making those small differences.

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.
—Ross Perot

While you’re working on capturing your natural way of speaking for your website copy, brochures, and the like (as we discussed in yesterday’s post), you may consider keeping a record of you, actually speaking to customers.

It’s a great way to see what key phrases you use when explaining how much your product or service can help them—along with the tone of voice, and general level of explanation that works best for your Ideal Customer.

Now that you’ve got that recording, play it back and listen for you, listening.

—Do you do enough of it?

—Do you truly listen to the customer (and does the course of the conversation change based on what you hear from them), or are you really “waiting them out” so you can get your next sentence in?

You’ll answer “Yes” to both of those before you’ve played back the recording. (Almost all of us would—after all, we’re exceptional!) But when you play it back, you may be able to “hear between the lines” and realize that some of your listening time probably isn’t really spent… listening. Or maybe you are listening to the most pressing needs being expressed, but on a second listen there are nuances to the conversation that you missed when you were having the discussion, trying to solve problems/ make the sale in a hurry. Like Mr. Perot said, a lot of companies have the same problem.

When that recording has helped you to capture your style of speaking, it might have a brilliant second life as a reminder of your style of listening, as well—and both will boost your company’s connection to the customer. What better way to boost the bottom line!

It’s a cinch! Speak to prospects and buyers authentically in your writing. Listen to them whole-brain-edly while they talk. Your customers will thank you—twice!

 

Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson