I’ve recently found a very cool site — fab.com. Fab is the brainchild of Jason Goldberg. I posted about him earlier in the week.


Clarity of Vision = Focus = Power
In marketing, it’s important to know what you stand for . . . as it helps you to stand out by standing up for something specific. Jason, as CEO and Founder of FAB.com has done this beautifully, IMHO.

FAB’s Focus . . . Design and Customer Experience
As you read the ‘Mission Statement’, it’s pretty clear that two terms come clearly to mind . . . DESIGN and CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  This tight focus makes it easy for FAB’s management to make decisions — decisions that align with the audience of people who are FAB’s target market — people who appreciate both outstanding design as well as a good bargain.

Mission . . . drives how you operate and how you’re perceived by your target market

A recent post on LinkedIn prompted me to reply.  The question was prompted by a company asking, “How can I compete with the ‘Big Boys’ in my business?”  The business in question is ‘home remodeling’ and yes, there are all kinds of players in that field — from newbies to seasoned pros who’ve been in ‘the biz’ since they were born (or, so it seems!)

ASK . . . And Ye Shall Receive (Great Marketing Insight!)
I suggested the person survey his clients and learn what his ‘ideal client’ wants from a remodeler and then use those insights to make sure he’s operating in such a way that he’s seen as ‘more’ attractive on those qualities than his competitors — big or small.

A Practical Example of Managing Impressions to Cement Perceptions
One of my clients, a siding and windows company learned (by surveying his clients) that ‘appearances’ affect which firm a prospect is likely to hire. As a result, he pays for his crews to have a clean uniform and a truck wash EVERY day! Why?

Because it’s what his target market members want from a firm they’ll hire to replace their siding and windows. When this firm does work in someone’s home, they also wear surgical booties over their shoes, too. Why? They are managing the IMPRESSIONS they make on a client. That helps the client form a PERCEPTION about the firm that, “All things being equal, THIS firm is ‘better”. Seems to be working as his market share has been growing . . . at the expense of other firms in the same geographical area and business.

Manage the EXPERIENCE . . . Cement the PERCEPTION . . . Beat the COMPETITION!

Lately, graphic information (not the “Oh no, I did NOT need to know THAT!” kind) has been prolific.  Whether it’s the state of your equity assets or the rate of (un)employment, there’s definitely no shortage of information about what’s happening in the world, is there?

The Heisenberg Effect
Werner Heisenberg won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics.  The ‘Heisenberg Effect’ got its name from his experiments that revealed the fact that observing an event changes the event.  Heisenberg observed the velocity and movement of sub-atomic particles.  If he focused on a particle’s velocity, its movement changed and vice versa.

Tracking Your Behavior . . . Changes Your Results 
In your daily life, Heisenberg’s effect is operating, too.  The action of tracking your behavior makes you more aware of it and, somehow, it affects your performance.  Athletes keep score not only to know who won the round or game but because it drives them to improve.

Behavioral Goals . . . Matter
Goals reflect either 1) a consequence or 2) a contributing factor.  “Make $1.2MM in gross revenues” is a consequence . . . of doing many things correctly before that becomes a reality. “Develop visibility and credibility with CEO’s in our target market” is a contributing factor. The former reflects a meaningful achievement.  The latter is what will cause it to happen.

Keep Score . . . tracking your contributing factors leads to successful consequences! 

In the short time human beings have been on the planet, we started out as ‘hunter-gatherers’ who had to stalk and kill prey to eat to ‘farmers’ who learned to cultivate the land for our food.
Moving from ‘hunting’ to ‘farming’ was a huge step in the growth of civilization.  OK, the ‘thrill of the kill’ may have been lost, but the fact is farmers tend to eat more regularly and predictably.

Farming . . . Leads To Predictable Productivity
Farmers know that planting in the spring means they’ll have a harvest in the fall.  Sure, there’s some risk — like drought, insects, etc. — but overall, “input => output” in farming with a fairly high degree of probability.

Business . . . Has Reverted
In the world of small business, many firms seem to prefer ‘hunting’ rather than ‘farming’.  The problem is that hunting is a ‘hit or miss’ proposition. Cultivating opportunities . . . is not.  But it requires a strategic perspective, not a tactical one.  Not easy to find these days.

You Do Have a Choice
Assuming you’re aware of these two options, which one are you choosing — farming or hunting?  If increasing the predictability of generating everything you need to ‘go to the bank’ — leads, referrals, opportunities and (lest we forget!) revenues . . . is important to you . . . why would you not want to be a farmer of your business?

Be a farmer . . . cultivate relationships for the referrals and revenues they offer! 

Seriously, do you like to hear a client complain about their experience with you or your business?  I doubt it.  But it does happen.  How you respond to these ‘bumps’ in your client relationship road may help you turn them into marketing gold.

Here are some points to keep in mind to make the most of these ‘moments-of-truth’ that may have gone bad:

Welcome Negative Comments
The expression, “Don’t shoot the messenger” is very true here.  Your client is giving you a GIFT . . . of insight that you may not have known and might never learn . . . except from the symptomatic loss of clients and revenues that a problem may suggest.  Don’t turn off this excellent source of insight that, used properly, can help you build a better business experience and increased client loyalty to your firm and brand.

Respond Quickly and Effectively
Another expression.  “Actions speak louder than words”.  What you DO to recover from a compromising experience speaks volumes more about whether you care about your clients than any boilerplate copy in your marketing collateral.  Use these difficult but important ‘messages’ to show you care and DO whatever is necessary to demonstrate that to your clients and all ‘fans’ of your brand.

A Little ‘BAD’ Generates a Lot of ‘GOOD’
If all you hear are good things about anyone or anything, you’re probably going to discredit the comments and the legitimacy of the firm.  But if you have some not-so-perfect comments made along with positive ones, your credibility factor will rise like the temperature on a July day!  Just make sure any negative information is a small percentage of the total and show that you used the comments to respond effectively.  That . . . is a winning strategy.

Negative comments are blessings in disguise — Welcome them and Respond to them  

August 24, 2011.

Steve jobs resigned as CEO of Apple.  It was the right decision.  It was an unselfish decision.  It was a tough call to make.  And, to take, as well.

“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple”s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Steve has cancer.  He was in remission. But it returned.  That’s what he’s referring to when he says, “. . . if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties”

Succession . . . Reflects Leadership
Institutions that go on and on . . . the British Royalty . . . the US Government . . . Apple . . . all recognize the need for succession planning.  It’s akin to drafting your will.  It’s your acceptance of your fragile mortality that we all understand and yet, most  find difficult to acknowledge.

In your business, anticipating the inevitable — and acting accordingly — is ‘good business’.

If your business is to enjoy an uninterrupted existence, you must plan for it.  That means you must PLAN.  Not only for your annual objectives and daily tasks, but for it’s perpetuation over time.  With you and, alas . . . without you, too.

Business perpetuation is never an accident — it reflects both strong leadership and your ability to have a plan in the first place.

I don’t often tout a product.  Today’s an exception. 

I found a really cool little online service this week.  ContactMe. This cloud-based service makes it easy for people who find you online to contact you and it helps you manage your follow-up with them, as well.  Very nice little app — Check it out on the right side of the page!

I also found another service called “Notebook“.

This little app organizes all kinds of information that I find on websites, in emails, Word documents, etc. in a way that’s very intuitive and extremely easy to use.

Where’s The WOW Factor?
These apps exist because they solve problems. Period. And these apps are . . . FUN!

“Easy and Fun” Beats “Difficult and Complicated”
I’ve given up far more sophisticated CRM software because ‘hard-to-learn’ or ‘difficult to use’ is going to LOSE . . . every time.

Form and Function (Should!) Go Together 
Both these apps are GOOD LOOKING,  INTUITIVE and SIMPLE.  That’s not easy!   It takes a lot of thought to create something you can use easily and effectively without thinking about it.

In the ContactMe blog there’s a post where they introduced an innovative change in their service.  They wrote, “You Asked.  We Listened.  We Delivered”.  That reflects their attitude of CARING for the relationships that make their business successful.  Do that for your business.  It is a beautiful thing to see.

Demonstrating you CARE about what matters to your client . . . is a competitive edge 

Many people don’t think of management as a marketing strategy or as a key to growing revenues  But it is.

I recently changed a banking relationship from one bank to another.  The new manager, Bill McDougall was a big factor in my switching.  But it wasn’t until today that I realized why I’m glad I’m now with Farmington Bank.

While in the bank I casually mentioned in front of a teller that my ‘transition’ to their bank was not as smooth as I had hoped or expected.  Not a deal-breaker.  I wasn’t a ‘flight risk’.  And I probably shouldn’t have said anything in front of the bank teller.  But I did.

Later that day, I got an email from Bill who said, “I heard you had some challenges.  Let’s talk.  We’re committed to making sure our customers are happy”.  No defensiveness.  Just regard for my experience and for the experience the bank could use to improve their performance with other customers.  WOW!

I reflected on this. The more I did, the better Bill and Farmington Bank looked.  Here’s why . . . Bill’s email reflected a sincere regard and CARING for me as his customer.  The fact that his tellers LISTENED to what I’d said (another form of caring!) and then SHARED that information with Bill (a reflection of TRUST in Bill and of their RESPONSE-ABILITY to act in a proactive manner on behalf of the customer and the bank) are all good signs.

OK, Farmington Bank isn’t perfect.  Neither am I.  Who is?  But a bank with a culture that:

  • has and honors a commitment to its customers,
  • recruits people who can demonstrate that commitment with their actions
  • encourages people to create a WOW! experience
  • has managers whose leadership encourages trust in their staff

Is pretty darned amazing!  You may not be near Farmington Bank.  But you can learn some great lessons in marketing by seeing how they manage their customer’s experience.  Now THAT . . . is a great basis for differentiating any business — including yours — from its competitors.

Caring is the unconditional regard for your customers that manifests in action on their behalf

Sooner or later, it’s going to happen.  A disaster.  You didn’t plan on it (DUH!).  You certainly didn’t want it.  But you have to deal with it or your business is in serious doo-doo.

Experience and commonsense suggest that quickly and openly acknowledging an experience your customer or client or patient found compromising and then doing something positive in response is not only likely to retain their business but make yours even more attractive.  It’s called response-ability — your ability to respond to the need of your client for a ‘warm fuzzy’ about your business or practice is . . . huge.

Airbnb . . . screwed up but . . . recovered nicely!
Airbnb is an online service that allows people to offer their home to others, for a fee.  It’s a cool idea, actually.  Say you’re traveling to Paris, France.  You check available accommodations and Voila! you have a not-so-commercial way to be ‘in country’ that most travelers will never know.

Unfortunately, risking a great experience exposes you to a not-so-good one, too.  That happened to a lady in San Francisco, CA who used the online service and had her home trashed by her ‘guests’.  Not good.  Airbnb’s initial response was to blame the client and protect itself.  Evenutally, due to public outcry, it owned the problem and went to great lengths to remedy the lady’s situation.  As a result, Airbnb turned ‘lemons into lemonade’.

______ happens.  When it does, learn to recover quickly, decisively and effectively!

Planning is a good thing.  Action is, too.  Together they are . . . great!

The moment you begin taking actions to achieve your goals you’re no longer planning.  You’re DO-ing!  And that’s a whole new ballgame.

Lesson: The Apollo Spaceflights
Before lift-off, before ever leaving earth’s orbit, the Apollo astronauts had a ‘plan’ for their mission to the Moon.  It indicated where and when the astronauts would be from lift-off to touch-down.  But their flight plan could never anticipate all the things that could happen.  That’s why they made ‘minor corrections’ — a 2 second engine ‘burn’ here, a 5 second ‘burn’ there — throughout the mission.

Historically, the astronauts were on their ‘flight plan’ only about 2% of each flight!  But, by regularly evaluating their position and taking corrective actions as needed, they always achieved, in the end, a successful flight.

Evaluation is Diagnosis . . . Done After ‘Lift-Off’
You begin your planning process by assessing where you are, now.  As you implement your plan, you want to assess how you are doing ‘now’ at regular intervals over time.  You want to compare your ‘actual vs. planned’ results.  As you find discrepancies (trust me, you will!), you can use a problem-solving process to help you take actions to correct the situation.  Eventually, you will achieve your larger goal because you’re making corrections ‘in-flight’.

Periodic evaluations and corrective actions . . . lead to SUCCESS!