We live in a relentlessly competitive world. The daily pressure to work "better, cheaper and faster" can make even talented business owners and entrepreneurs lose site of first principles. As you cope with the decisions and details of running your business, focus on the fundamentals! Regardless of the type of business or the products or services you sell, here are my suggestions for the Top 10 Basics that will make your fortune:
1. Client Benefits.
You and your clients must clearly understand the benefits that your products and services provide. Most buying decisions are based on the consumer's perception that a new color will add prestige or that a smaller, lighter product will be more convenient. Clients buy benefits.
2. Extra Value.
Clients must receive more in value than you charge for your goods and services. Most of us don't want a "fair" exchange, we want a bargain, the sense that we got extra value for our money.
3. Extraordinary Service.
This means attention to detail. Answering the phone on the first ring, providing an 800 number and 24-hour customer service numbers are examples. L.L. Bean has made a fortune with it's "no questions" guarantee. So can you!
4. Know your Audience.
Every business has to know their audience. Volvo and Nissan have very different audiences, and their advertising, pricing and even the location of their dealerships reflect this. Young adult audiences may value low price, while another group may value quality, performance, reliability or some other item. This is even more critical for service organizations who's products are invisible (consulting, education, coaching, etc).
In the old days, this meant the street address of your shop or store. Now it means getting your marketing messages into your client's hands when and where they are receptive. Be certain your website is located at the top of the search engines. Make your Yellow Page ad larger or distinctive. NASCAR race fans are the most brand-loyal consumers in America. If you want to reach them, buy space on a race car!
Clients expect to shop at their convenience, to pay by credit card, to call an 800-number, and to have their questions answered correctly the first time. Obviously, most service providers (medical, legal, consulting) can not be available 24-hours a day, and how you handle that problem will say much about you and your business to potential clients. Make it easy to do business with you!
New is good, newer is better. Clients expect the benefits of the most modern technology. At a minimum, they expect the convenience of email, voice mail, pagers, and fax. If there is a faster, better, cheaper and more reliable way to do it, adopt cutting edge techniques before your competition does!
Consumers assume they can rely on your products and services. If they are purchasing your time and expertise, they rely on your availability, your advice, your attention to detail, and your follow-through. Durability may be less important in a throw-away age, but consumers demand 100% reliability. Be available for them every single time!
Planning takes on strange twists when a computer chip "generation" lasts 6 months and a website may be "old" in 6 weeks. Planning is the ability to monitor, influence, and profit from change. Planning means having a mission statement and the flexibility to respond instantly when new information allows you to fulfill your mission more effectively. Planning means you control your destiny.
Communication means instant, 2-way communication between every level and every branch of an enterprise. It means communicating with your vendors and competitors, and working with your clients so they become your most important designers, researchers and customer service experts. It means an "open door" policy and flat organizational models. It means listening is more important than speaking. It means ideas rule the world.
By Philip E. Humbert
Image by Ivan Chuyev
Image by Ivan Chuyev
© Copyright 2003 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach. Dr. Humbert has over 300 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter! It's all on his website at: http://www.philiphumbert.com