The fastest way to grow revenue is through your existing customer base. This requires some introspection and a few strategic conversations, but it is the fastest and most cost-effective way to increase revenue. Here are the three things you need to do:
Know your competitive advantage – Talk to customers, business partners, advisers and colleagues to determine what you do better than anyone else. Why would a customer choose you?
Know your target market – Determine who can most benefit from the products and/or services you offer and what their needs are. Who would most benefit from what you offer?
Communicate effectively – Once you have determined what you do better than anyone else and who will most benefit from that, you need to find an effective means to communicate that message to potential customers. What is the most effective way to communicate your strengths to those who would benefit from them the most?
A client of mine followed this strategy when expanding into new markets and they were very successful. They held numerous meetings to review the marketplace and identified the areas where they felt they were stronger or offered better value than the competition. They then created a profile of their target customer, including what that person's lifestyle might be like and what associations and organizations they might be a part of. From this they developed a strategy on how best to reach and communicate to that customer. The result was a huge increase in revenue as well as a reduction in the time spent generating that revenue. This increased productivity allowed them to meet with more potential customers and achieve a higher conversion rate for new customers, creating an additional surge of revenue.
The more time I spend talking with people in different industries, the more I realize that success is about building relationships. Whether you are a teacher trying to find a job or an insurance advisor trying to attract new clients or a doctor trying to make a difference, it is all about the relationships that you build. Provide tremendous value and treat each person with care and you will be successful. Don't try too hard, but let your natural personality come through. Think about what is in the self-interest of the other party and help them get there.
No social media platform or smartphone or software program will ever replace our ability (or inability) to develop deep, trusting relationships. Think about that the next time you are reaching out to someone through email or Facebook…
I gave a presentation yesterday in front of 20 Chinese delegates. Most of them were deputy mayors from cities whose populations were as large as Canada, and none of them spoke English. The speech was being simultaneousy translated. I had never done anything like this before and it was an amazing experience. I learned a couple of key introductory phrases and it made all of the difference in the world. A colleague of mine who lives in China mentioned to me that everyone starts their speeches with "dajia hao" which means "how is everyone doing today?" When I started off this way, everyone in the room smiled and clapped. They were put at ease by the fact that I had made an effort to learn something about their language and was a great way to start off the speech.
Aside from the fact that a speech that was supposed to last two hours ended more than an hour early (try getting into a flow when you need to stop after every sentence to have it translated), it was a great experience. There were a lot of questions and even a group discussion, both of which are uncharacteristic behaviours for the Chinese. I attribute this to the fact that I learned a couple of key phrases and learned what hand gestures to use so as not to be offensive, and this not only gave them face, but also made them feel comfortable. It just shows that a little effort goes a long way in bridging the cultural divide. How much effort are you putting in to make your audience feel at ease? Think of it from their perspective…in a foreign land where they don't speak the language and don't know the culture, so it is the small things that matter to them.
The recent Nike ad featuring Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers asking "what should I do?" solidifies a new age of marketing for sports figures. The ad addresses the fact (however indirectly) that Cleveland fans felt betrayed that Mr James chose to leave his hometown of Cleveland for the opportunity awaiting him in Miami Beach. This decision has been criticized by fans and players alike and Lebron wanted to respond. This is not the first time Nike has used a commercial to allow a sports figure to 'apologize.' You may remember the creepy Tiger Woods commercial from earlier this year where we just watch Tiger's somber face while his deceased father's voice scolds him in the voice-over. Why does Nike think this will work? But more importantly, why do the athletes agree to it? Why not just come out and apologize? "I am sorry for my infidelity," "I am sorry for leaving Cleveland, I felt it was the best thing for me and my family." What's so wrong with being honest?
Ego…that's what. We put these athletes on a pedestal so they want to immortalize themselves, what better way than through a creepy commercial? Tiger's commercial did nothing for his image, neither will Lebron's. If you want forgiveness from your fans, employees, family, whomever, then just ask for it. No gimmick or video or TV commercial will make up for a good old-fashioned apology and an ask for forgiveness. I wonder if our connected world is causing us to be more impersonal? It sure is causing us to look for different ways to interact by avoiding personal connections.
Why is it that I can save documents and files to the 'cloud,' I have a wireless device where I look up anything I want wherever I want and there are touch screen computers, yet my house alarm can be cut off by simply cutting the phone line? This seems a little archaic compared to the rest of the technology world, no? Apparently no company has seen it to be important enough to change. If I can have wireless access to the Internet, why can't my security system do the same thing? Many people don't even have home phones anymore, so how does that work?
The home security industry is due for a change in technology and business model. It is one of the only businesses I can think of that has not changed in almost 15 years. So why hasn't is changed? Because new entrants are trying to change how people are dispatched to your home, but not the ingrained technology. There is a huge opportunity for someone to come in with a more stable product and a different approach. Rogers seems to be tackling this challenge and we will see over the next few months how this turns out. Just another service that they can 'bundle' you with, but maybe this one might actually improve the way things are done.