Experience is the Best Teacher

A Series of Inquiry

No hurdles!

No limits.

What do Customers Want?

November 22, 2019

How does a small business owner compete with larger players?

Offer better service? Lower prices? Yes. No. Maybe?


Ask yourself: what do my customers want? Then ask your customers. How do the answers compare?


Don’t assume. Ask!

  1. Market research: Whether in survey form or through one-on-one feedback, research is one way to test your assumptions. If you assume you know your customers’ needs, you may be indulging your blind spots.
  2. Sales analysis: What are you selling more of? Less of? What has the highest margins? Does your business model rely on lower margins but higher volume? If so, your research should also test how quickly you respond to customer inquiries.
  3. Service analysis: How effectively do you deliver on the goods or services? Do you exceed expectations? Have you asked?

Business owners I’ve met started their businesses because they enjoy a specific trade, product or service. They enjoy making products or solving problems. Analyzing business metrics may not be their strong suit. Marketing frequently isn’t either.


CEOs don’t want to ask their customers for feedback. They are fixers and fear that because they cannot immediately fix a negative, they shouldn’t even ask. 


Can You Handle the Truth?

Letting a customer share their criticisms yields more information about them. Their priorities. Their challenges. I admit, in many cases, it’s the premium customers I’m asking. After all, those who do the most business, mean more business!


Thorough research and analysis can help you find answers and better inform your path.


Can’t get it done?


That’s what I’m here for.

Experience is the Best Teacher

A Series of Inquiry

What's the Point?

Your Need. Our Solution.

What's the Big Idea?

December 6, 2019

Why would you leave it to others to determine your message?


Don’t Think of an Elephant, the 2004 book, profoundly affected my work in public relations. Working for an advocacy organization, I used the premise to train field staff and leadership to speak to the media and the public. It helped as we positioned issues and shifted individual and public opinion on topics. It explained persuasive communications in a manner no other educational experience did.


Your Brain Feeds on Visual, Emotional Cues 

Lakoff's premise is to frame your message with an emotional and/or visual reference point. As soon as you tell someone, “don’t think of an elephant,” that’s the visual cue in their mind for all ideas or concepts of your subject. 


The brain has imprinted that visual cue. It becomes the reference point.


In communications, fundraising, advocacy or sales, I used it this way:

“Do you care about “justice?” Justice is an emotionally significant concept for attorneys. The concept was a significant one when marketing to the legal profession.


“Educating teens” and “prevention” were resoundingly effective messages when marketing a health care provider to baby boomers worried about the health and safety of their own children.


Education, in fact, connects many of us to the causes and services we seek. If your business has any educational component to it, I strongly urge you to consider how you can incorporate this term.


Consistency Gains Traction

I hear many business owners, membership associations, and charities say “no one knows what we do”! Often those organizations haven’t invested in strategic communications to address their big ideas and map out their communications strategies to convey them consistently to their stakeholders. Rarely have they invested in proactive communications to address “what we do.”


Think seriously about framing your business, its customer benefits and services, and how you can use your “frame” to create the image of your business that customers are seeking. What are the benefits to your customers? How does that translate into those big ideas that speak to them by solving their problems?


Your brand depends on these tools. More on that in a future post.


Contact Browning Business Strategies LLC for more on this topic.

Experience is the Best Teacher

A Series of Inquiry

One in a Million

Find the Pearl

Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

December 11, 2019

I hate crowds.


Pushy, smelly masses of humanity. I used to see it as a challenge, navigating my way through them at events, concerts, and groceries. I don’t have that kind of time now.


When you are a business owner in a crowded industry, you might hate crowds too. They cost you money you often don’t want to spend. Let me help you determine how to spend it wisely.


Have you’ve defined your product or service benefits? Are capitalizing on them? Are you consistent in your communications about them?


I remember when I worked in the wine industry, and someone I met shared with me what they knew: that the Swiss had started Indiana’s vineyards in the 1800s. I almost fell down, as I was astounded that a message I’d been sharing for seven years was now spoken by a total stranger trying to impress me with his knowledge! That’s when I knew framing and repetition were allies for breaking through a jaundiced, crowded marketplace with a message.


You have to admit the image of Swiss grape growers is visually striking to your imagination.


Do you describe your services or products in a customer-friendly manner?


WIFT

What are the key benefits of your products or service? Will it save your customer time, money or space? Solve a problem? Scratch an itch? 


The mouthwash brands don't just sell you an alcohol-based product, they tell you your breath is bad, a turn-off to that new guy in the office, and offer their liquid solution. They tell you that on every online ad after you have searched "cures for bad breath." They tell you that in coupons that arrive in the mail. They tell you that in the grocery store aisle and the beauty ads.


Word Vomit

Have you ever met someone full of word vomit? That isn’t a euphemism for BS. It’s someone who spills their guts, tells you everything they can think of (and probably more than a few theories too) about a topic. You ask them what time it is, and they tell you how to build an AppleWatch.


You are left to pick through it for the information that makes sense to you. They may be quite knowledgeable about their subject but unable to share digestible amounts of the topic with you. They want to tell you everything about the topic in one breath it seems. You soon become overwhelmed with information.


Contact Browning Business Strategies LLC for more on this topic.