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Your company is absolutely unique. So much so that nobody else on the planet is able to do what you do.

Except, of course, that your products are so similar to the competition that people have a hard time recognizing the difference.

By the way, this tension is a universal experience. Read the rest of this entry »

photo by Christopher SardegnaFor me, 2016 highlighted some important things about how we think.

It was amazing how much energy and attention was put into the presidential election. It consumed every waking moment, as if aliens had landed on the planet.

The fact is that government does what it does. Sometimes it affects what we do in our businesses, but mostly other things are far more important. Read the rest of this entry »

Cobbles IcesMost sales processes assume that you have what the customer wants.  Or, you can convince them that they want whatever you have.  Or, that your product or service can be made to fit whatever their needs are.

When I state it that way, the fallacy is obvious.  Yet we continue to approach sales with this mentality.

You say you want food that’s gluten-free?  Well, uh, maybe these rolls don’t have much gluten in them.  Not satisfied?  Well, I can sell you a salad.  Not what you’re looking for?  But it’s such a fantastic salad!  You should really want it!

Read the rest of this entry »

I had a chance to view a short video recently, a conversation between Eli Goodman (O’Reilly Programming) and Greg Leppert (Svpply).  I recommend it.

Now, perhaps you’re telling yourself that “those weirdo tech guys just don’t have to think like a real business owner” and that this doesn’t apply to YOUR company.  It’s absolutely true that there are some unique aspects of high tech, but I found the conversation useful because it was about more general management and leadership concepts.

A simple example:  Hiding bad news from your employees.  Read the rest of this entry »

I had an intriguing conversation with someone at DrupalCon about the emergence of Drupal Apps.  So I thought I’d offer an outsider’s viewpoint.

One concern I heard is that the emergence of apps into the space will destabilize the balance of power Read the rest of this entry »

•Where are competitors better than us?
•Where are we falling behind market changes?
•Where have we created a bad impression?
•When are customers choosing not to buy from us?

I had a chance to give a couple of presentations this week on competitive analysis, using a straightforward technique known as SWOT analysis.

This is important for anyone in business who needs to build a larger customer base through taking decisive action and delivering clear messages.  That’s all of us, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

I was speaking with my brother yesterday about the column I wrote for the NCBR entitled Take advantage of service with a smile.  His was actually one of the businesses that I was thinking of when I wrote that, because I’ve seen the power of what he’s done.

He has a car restoration business in Denver, but has never done a bit of advertising in 40 years.  His company is visible, all right, but because he’s involved in a whole bunch of places where his target customers hang out: rallies, car shows, magazines, and so on.  But he gets his business by word of mouth, and the company known across the country as one of the premier businesses in its field.

He mentioned that there’s maybe half a dozen companies in the US that provide superb quality of service.  That’s it, that’s all that the market will support, because there’s a limited number of old British cars here.

Interestingly enough, there’s not much of a second tier of restoration companies, because you either have to be very good, or you can’t sustain a business over the long term.  It’s the personal relationships that keep customers over many years and decades.

So who’s the competition?  Well, those six top-tier companies don’t really compete strongly against each other; they’re more like a loose community of people who are all passionate about the same thing.

The competition is people who get rid of their old British cars because it’s just too much trouble to take care of them anymore.  The competition is the shrinkage of the overall market.

And what keeps the market from shrinking?  Delivering an experience that helps customers to stay passionate about keeping their cars and continuing to keep them running.

This is what great service looks like.

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