If you are a regular reader of this missive, you'll know I have a tendency to use it to pour scorn on the many acts of pointlessness and incompetence inflicted on us by organisations who should know better, so it is with a degree of pleasure that this month I recommend something that can only be a positive influence on your business.
I frequently run sessions with my clients based on the principles of a book called The Inside Advantage (yes, Julian, I know I still haven't given it you back), by an ex-advertising man called Bob Bloom. In short, I work through four core elements of the business, in order to formulate a comprehensive communications programme, around which all marketing activities are subsequently built.
The four elements are:
WHO is the core customer most likely to buy your product or service in the quantity required for optimal profit.
WHAT is the uncommon offering that your business will own and leverage.
HOW is the persuasive strategy that will convince your core customer to buy your uncommon offering versus all competitive offerings.
OWN IT! is the series of imaginative acts that will celebrate your uncommon offering and make it well known to your core customer.
However, a couple of weeks ago, one of my clients (thanks, Simon) sent me an online video of a 20-minute talk by a guy called Simon Sinek, which adds a vital new ingredient to the mix, and one that I recommend you take a look at.
Usually I take these guru tapes with a pinch of salt, but I have to admit to having watched it three or four times. Don't take my word for it: visit http://blog.ted.com/2010/05/how_great_leade.php
In case you can't be bothered, though, here is the gist of it...
WHY DOES YOUR
Instead of starting with the WHO, WHAT and HOW questions, (Who is your core customer, What is your uncommon offering, How do you articulate that creatively), Simon Sinek recommends you start with the question 'WHY?'
What is your cause, belief or purpose? Why does your business exist? Why should anyone care? He argues that most businesses know what they do (the core product or service) and many understand how they do it (their USP or uncommon offering), but few know why they do it (other than to make a profit). And, he says, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Most businesses start with the What, move on to the How, and finish with the Why? "We make great computers; they are features heavy and really easy to use; want to buy one?" Uninspiring.
Truly great businesses (and individuals) start with the 'Why?' and move back through 'How?' to 'What?' and he uses physiological evidence, based on the make-up of the human brain, to support him. Taking Apple Computer as a prime example:
WHY: "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and in thinking differently."
HOW: "We make computers that are beautifully designed, simple to use and are user friendly."
WHAT: "Want to buy one?"
By turning on its head the traditional approach to business, Apple has inspired a generation of innovators and early adopters to stand in line for hours, in order to be one of the first to own one of its new products, even though they could have bought one a week later with no queuing or inconvenience. And this inspirational quality has helped the business to overtake the mighty Microsoft itself as the biggest-selling global player in the high-tech market.
Even if this hasn't inspired you to do one small thing for your business education, by watching the video (http://blog.ted.com/2010/05/how_great_leade.php), at least ask yourself this: what actually is the purpose of your business? Since people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it, what exactly do you believe in? (And by the way, making fat profits is the answer to the What? question, not the Why?). People buy from you because they believe what you believe.
So if you want to build a great business, rather than just an average one, understanding and articulating what it stands for is probably the most important first step you can take.