Why Should I Be Your Customer?

I often ask my clients to answer, “Why should I be your customer (client or patient) (CCP)?” from the point of view and value proposition of their ideal CCP’s, not their point of view.  That question is also featured in many of my seminars and workshops.  In fact, I posted a blog in October 2015 entitled “What is Your Product or Service?” which expanded on that very important question.  I just finished an article in the December 2018 edition of Builder magazine entitled “Closing The New vs. Existing Divide” by Vincent Salandro which offers another very practical take on this subject. While focusing in on the factors that lead home buyers to buy newly constructed homes rather than existing homes, the article presents a statistical approach to understand home buyer preferences and how a builder might increase their market penetration.  The article quotes data from the Zillow Group New Construction Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018 to make a strong case for developing a very deep understanding of the value proposition of the ideal customers of new home builders. The Zillow Group report found that while 38% of potential home buyers considered buying a newly constructed home in 2017, only 11% purchased one.  In delving deeper into the data, the author expands on many of the factors that would be useful in refining a builder’s definition of their ideal customer.  Some of the factors included where:

  • Age – new home buyers tend to be older
  • Ethnicity – 74% of new home buyers self-identified as Caucasian/White
  • First-Time buyers vs. Moving Up or Downsizing buyers
  • Geography

The article goes on to look at the top fourteen reasons buyers purchase new homes.  Such factors as:

  • Everything is new/never used – 48%
  • Ability to customize features of the home – 23%
  • Ability to have smart home features – 6%

These were a great look at new home builder’s customer value proposition. Finally, the article looked at how new construction home buyers shop for their home.  Most who purchase newly constructed homes relied on technology, 68% using a laptop or desktop and 46% using mobile devices to shop for their home.  Only one-third of new home buyers used mobile, much less than buyers who purchased existing homes. What does this have to do with your business?  To answer that, I have a homework assignment for you.  I suggest you ask yourself the following questions:

  • How well do you understand your ideal Customer, Client or Patient? – When is the last time you gathered any market statistics that might be used to refine who your ideal CCP is?
  • How well do you understand ALL the various factors that make up your ideal CCP values? – Have you asked your CCPs why they buy from your company?
  • How well do you understand how your ideal CCPs found you? – Are you “hanging out” in all the places you should?

My colleagues and I are well equipped to assist you to better define, understand and find your ideal customers, clients or patients.  The better you are at serving them, the more successful you will be.

2018 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 1

For the third year in a row I must say, the Business Excellence Forum (BEF) gets better each year, and the 2018 event was no exception.  This year there were more than 700 business owners, executives, team members and business coaches in attendance in San Diego, California.  With that many attendees, there was an abundance of formal and informal exchanges of ideas, strategies, success stories and best practices. This year’s forum had an extensive list of keynote speakers whose presentations yielded many Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs) and new ways of looking at things.  The following are some of the BFOs that struck a chord with me, most of which will enhance the value I bring to my clients.  I am sure that some of these will have a similar effect on you. During the opening session, Brad Sugars, founder, and Chairman of ActionCOACH shared the following during a presentation of the 21 Biggest Mistakes in Marketing:
  • Mistake #4 – No Numbers / At ActionCOACH we have the concept of Measure & Test. For example, in creating marketing materials, such as advertisements, we coach our clients to test multiple headlines and measure the level of response, rather than simply using one headline.  After measuring response, our clients can hone in on an effective headline.  Brad suggested that Google or Facebook are perfect venues to test marketing headlines.
  • Mistake #9 – Going for 1 sale vs. 100 / The concept of marketing for multiple sales, rather than going for one sale. This involves targeting out-bound message, while calling for in-bound response.
  • Mistake #12 – Wrong Words/Pictures / Marketing materials must address your target’s values, not your company’s values. I will be blogging and tweeting more of the 21 Biggest Mistakes during the next few weeks.
Our first Keynote speaker was Elizabeth McCormick, an amazing lady.  Ms. McCormick was the first female helicopter pilot in the US Army.  In addition to teaching the entire audience how to fly a helicopter, she laid out many gems, here are a few:
  • “If you believe that something is hard, it will be hard. If you believe something is easy, it will be easy not as hard
  • She demonstrated the “Can you exercise.” She asked a volunteer to the stage.  The volunteer extended their arm out to the side with their thumb down.  Elizabeth then:
    • Pushed down on the volunteer’s arm while the subject was resisting to establish a benchmark of the amount of force needed to overcome the resistance
    • Next, she had the subject say “I can’t” three times. When she pushed the volunteer’s arm down this time she was able to easily overcome the resistance.
    • Finally, she had the subject say “I can” three times. This time she had to apply much more force to overcome the volunteer’s resistance. Just in case we thought she was faking, the entire audience paired off, did the exercise and came up with the same result.
    • The purpose was to move us from our comfort zone to our Potential Zone.
  • “We all have a responsibility to lead from where we are.”
Stay tuned for the next installment of BFOs from the 2018 BEF.

2016 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 4

The first speaker of the afternoon on the second day was Chris Cooke of Luv4 Marketing one of the ActionCOACH strategic partners.  Luv4 has enrolled me and many of my colleagues in a social media master class.  In addition, we are able to offer a comprehensive marketing class to our clients via our strategic partnership.  My BFOs from Chris were:
  • Leads generated on the internet will not necessarily be successful if they are directed to a crappy website or landing page.
  • Internet leads will research you online, just like you research companies you are considering doing business with.
  • Your sales process must be revised to reflect the unique methods necessary to maximize your conversion rate of online leads.
Our chairman Brad Sugars wrapped up the afternoon and the BEF with mostly housekeeping announcements and one major BFO:
  • In order to improve your conversion rate, keep an Objection Log. Work answers to your most prominent objections into your sales process and materials BEFORE they arise.
The next two days were devoted to the annual North American Coach conference.  We were introduced to several new strategic alliances.  In addition, there were many speakers addressing best coaching practices and client strategies that worked for our clients.  The following are some of the highlights: In a session about KPIs, one of my colleagues showed a clip from the movie Money Ball Ball (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGf6LNWY9AI) to highlight using KPIs to overcome biases.  He then introduced the concept of subdividing KPIs into Leading, Lagging, People and Productivity KPIs, which was a BFO for me, having only thought of KPIs in general. KPI Examples Slide Balance KPIs Slide By the way, if you are not familiar with Net Promoter Score, I will cover NPS in a upcoming blog, stay tuned. In addition, he also had the audience do the following exercise: KPI Table Exercise Slide You should too. Another colleague of mine ran a great exercise based on the ActionCOACH formula for change:

(D x V) + F > R

Step 1 – write out a challenge you would like to eliminate Step 2 – write out your Vision of when the challenge has been eliminated Step 3 – rate your Vision 1-10 (btw if your vision is not a 10, rework your vision) Step 4 – rate your Dissatisfaction with the current situation 1-10 Step 5 – write the consequence of not eliminating the challenge Step 6 – R – list your top 3 resistances to the changes needed to eliminate the challenge Step 7 – write out the First Step Step 8 – Be x Do = Have – write an I Am related to the Being needed to overcome the challenge. (The I Am statement will influence your unconscious behavior related to your DISC) Step 9 – Four steps to learning – Step 7 moved you from u-i to c-i / what needs to be learned to move to c-c? 4 Steps to Learning Slide Step 10 – question how DISC is effecting behavior (both yours and your team’s) toward solving the challenge

Finally, another colleague presented a process for creating “I’ll be happy when …” and personal purpose statements.

To create your “I’ll be happy when …” statement

Write your top 2 personal goals Write your top 2 professional goals List how you will feel when those goals are achieved

Use your top goals and the above list to Create your “I’ll be happy when …” statement

To create your personal purpose statement

List your 2 most positive and unique skills and abilities For example: Experience and Insight

List how you demonstrate these skills Coaching & Mentoring

What does a perfect world look like to you?  Harmony between having positive impact on many clients and enjoying my 70s with my wife and family

Put all 3 together into 1 statement I use my experience and insight to assist my clients to build very successful businesses that create many great employment positions in their communities.

 I trust you will find some ideas in this BFO series of blogs that will accelerate your success.  My colleagues and I are available to assist you in implementing the concepts presented in these four posts.

What is Your Product or Service?

As promised in my last Blog “Is Your Business Commodity or Value Based?” I would like to discuss the definition of your product, the total definition of your product, the real definition of your product.  First, a little background.  I have too often encountered business owners and professionals who stop at the obvious definition of their product, “I’m a pediatrician, I provide medical care to kids,” never either consciously or unconsciously going deeper.  And if the owner doesn’t fully understand what his or her company is delivering, what are the chances that their team consistently delivers the complete product?  That is why I consider understanding of the complete definition the product or service of a business one of the fundamentals of having an exceptional business. In my last Blog, I said “Once you have determined your clients, customers or patients (CCPs) definition of value, you must marry it to your product or service in order to have your UVP (Unique Value Proposition).”  Without a genuine UVP, you are doomed to playing the features leap frog game with your competitors.  So how do we marry our CCPs definition of value with our product or service? The answer is simple, but not easy.  You and your team must answer “Why should I be your customer?” from the customer’s point of view.  One way to accomplish this is to try this exercise that I use with my clients; make a list of 100 reasons someone who fits the profile of your ideal, not your only, customer should do business with you.  The easy part is putting the first five or six on the list.  After that it gets progressively more difficult.  I must be honest and tell you that only one client has gotten to 100.  After eliminating the duplicates, we got down to a list of more than 80 value elements, each of which were part of their Total Product Definition (TPD). Returning to the pediatrician, in addition to providing medical care to kids, her TPD includes such factors as; ease of parking, short wait times for appointments and in the waiting room, waiting room decor and activities, how friendly is the team, is the office child and parent friendly, to list just a few of the more obvious examples.  Note that the list should include both tangible and intangible items.  The tangible items, such as very short wait time, are easier to copy than intangible items such as having a friendly office atmosphere. Once you have determined your TPD, you must constantly communicate it both internally and to your CCPs.  That means you and your team must live it, breath it, understand it and consistently deliver the TPD to your market.  Your TPD is your competitive advantage, the deeper and more detailed it is, the harder it is for your competition to duplicate. My ActionCOACH colleagues and I will be happy to assist you in developing your Total Product Definition.

A Survey Shows a BIG Disconnect

My local business weekly newspaper published the results of a July 2014 Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of 603 small business owners.  The survey asked the respondents to list the single biggest business challenge they currently face.  In looking at the survey results, I found a couple of concerns that are counter to some core ActionCOACH concepts.  Here are the survey results:

CHALLENGE                                        %

  • Attracting Customers                               13
  • Government Regulations                         11
  • Financial Stability / Cash Flow               11
  • The Economy                                              11
  • Government (general) / Taxes                10
  • Hiring Qualified Staff                                  7
  • Product Improvements / Updates            6
  • Healthcare / Obama Care                           6
  • Competition with Larger Corporations    6
  • Cost of Running Business                           5
  • Credit Availability                                         4
  • Marketing / Advertising                              4
  • Nothing / No Challenge                               2
  • Seasonal Issues                                              1
  • Employee Benefits                                        1
  • Don’t Know                                                     1
  • Other                                                                1                                             TOTAL       100%
  First of all, nearly one third (32%) of the owners are challenged by exactly the same issues (Government Regulations, The Economy and Taxes) that their competitors are faced with.  At ActionCOACH we advise our clients and aspire to live “above the line” of choice, taking Ownership/being Accountable/being Responsible for our results, rather than being “below the line”, Blaming others/making Excuses/being in Denial.  (For additional information about above/below the line, visit ozprinciple.com and/or read or listen to The OZ Principle by Roger Connors and Tom Smith and Craig Hickman).  Regulations, The Economy and Taxes are not challenges to the business owners who operate above the line and refuse to make excuses for their less than stellar results and treat these issues as opportunities to outpace their competitors. The BIG Disconnect I found within the survey results is the 9 percentage point difference between the top challenge, Attracting Customers (13%) and Marketing / Advertising (4%).  This gap demonstrates one of the top issues my colleagues and I find at our prospects and new clients, namely not viewing marketing as an investment aimed at “buying” customers.  It seems that everyone wants more customers, but do not have a realistic attitude about marketing.  It always amazes me how many business owners I meet who believe that simply having a better mousetrap and opening their doors will attract customers.  Today’s market environment is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing due to the greater opportunities to cost effectively reach very large audiences with our marketing messages.  It is a curse due to the tremendous amount of “noise” that there is out in the marketplace.  Our clients who view marketing as an investment, who therefore, establish proper and useful metrics, and are prepared to respond to what their metrics tell them, consistently outperform their rivals. If you are not pleased with the number of customers/clients/patients you have, I suggest that you contact me or one of my ActionCOACH colleagues before you contact a marketing consultant.  If you build the proper foundation and expectations, your marketing will be much more effective when you begin your next marketing campaign.

Top 10 Mistakes Survey

Several years ago I ran an informal survey of my networking buddies and my ActionCOACH colleagues asking each for a list of the Top 10 Mistakes their customers/clients/patients made BEFORE calling them.  I received and correlated about 100 responses and issued a white paper.  At that time the top three were:
  • Waiting too long before seeking assistance – DENIAL (not a river in Egypt)
  • Thinking they knew everything they needed to know – I KNOW ATTITUDE
  • Getting advice from unqualified sources – “UNCLE LOUIE”
Now that I have many more social media and blog followers I think it is time to run the survey again.  If you wish to participate all you need to do is send your Top 10 List and the industry you are in to me.  Please submit your response using one of the following methods: I am looking forward to your participation.  I will publish the survey results and analysis in my blog toward the end of October 2014.  The one thing I am certain of is that we will all gain insight into our own marketing message by developing our Top 10 Lists.

What Can We Learn From Our “Almost” Competitors?

Last week, while coaching one of my medical industry clients, I had a major, multi-part Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO).  This client’s medical practice has many competitors, both medically and geographically.  One competitor (called LuxDocs in this blog) in particular, has positioned themselves to be “high-end”, charging an annual fee for access to their doctors. Initially, my client did not consider LuxDocs to be a direct competitor even though they address the same area of medicine.  However, as we went down the list of LuxDocs’ actual and perceived value points and benefits, 24/7 doctor access for example, it became obvious that my client offered, or could offer, many of the same perceived high value services and benefits as their “almost” competitor. Our discussion progressed into two areas:
  1. Which of the services and benefits that my client already offers are valued by their patients but are not currently emphasized within their internal perception  or external marketing?
  2. What services and/or benefits could they add that are of perceived high value by patients, but could be offered with low additional cost?
BFO Part 1 – This concept isn’t only applicable to medical practices – substitute the word Customer or Client for Patient and re-read 1 and 2 above.  Now look at your product or service through the lens of what is already included, or could be included, in your offering that are perceived as high value/benefit, but that you haven’t emphasized? BFO Part 2 – Remember, look at product or service aspects that are of high value to your clients, customers, patients or whoever makes up your target market.  This is not necessarily about what you and your team value, it is about what your market values.  In other words, work to understand the entire, complete definition of your product, not just the obvious. BFO Part 3 – This is closely related to the concepts presented in the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.  Add high value items to the design of your product or service while eliminating high cost low value items. Action Steps – As many of my current clients have already done:
  • Completely define your product or service.
  • Make a list of as many; reasons to become your customer, ways you add value to your customer, and benefits, both small and large, of being your customer as you can.  Remember, from their point of view, not yours.  Shoot for 100.
  • Your complete product definition and the list of your value points form a major part of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Make sure you constantly and consistently communicate all of these aspects of your UVP both externally and internally.
  • Read Blue Ocean Strategy.
  If you would like assistance with the process implied above or you wish to accelerate your progress toward your business goals, contact me or the ActionCOACH business coach in your area.

Global Conference BFO’s Part 3

Here are even more tidbits that you can apply to improve your performance and the success of your business:  
  1. Make everyone you meet feel better about themselves
  2. Brad Sugars said – We put ourselves into a box we create for ourselves. Therefore, we can create a new box.
  3. From Michael Port the day three guest speaker:
    1. There are 7 core self-promotion strategies:
      1. Networking * – Develop deeper relationships with the people you already know
      2. Direct Outreach*
        1. list 20 people you wish to know
        2. set a Google alert for each
        3. reach out to the person at the top of the list, 1per day and then move that person to the bottom of the list
        4. result – you will reach out to each person once per month
      3. Referrals*
      4. Keep In Touch*
      5. Speaking
      6. Writing
      7. Web (Items with * are mandatory)
    2. Always have something to invite people to
  4. Invest in your own growth – Learn to Earn
  I hope you picked up at least one thought, idea or strategy from this, and the two previous blogs in this series, which you can use to increase your success.