Some thoughts on evaluating a successful business. There are three aspects to growing a successful business, and all three of these need to be great:
- Quality Products
- Quality Brand Marketing
- Quality Sales Force
I’ll elaborate on each of these aspects in the following paragraphs.
What makes a quality product?
A quality product fulfills a need. It can be a need for pleasure, or a need to avoid pain. It’s understanding your customers, and paying attention to detail. The more attention the detail, the better you understand what your customers care about, the higher quality the product. There is no detail that should go unscrutinized to ensure that the product experience is different from its competitors. It should be an “experience” that speaks for itself. It should feel good, or unique, or memorable. It should stand out from the crowd in form and design, in function, in the material its made out of. Whatever the product does, it should do it well. And it should be enjoyable to use. The “user experience” or “usability” should be intuitive and easy. Whatever the product does should make life easier or better. It should conform to whatever the environment the typical user is in, and however they are comfortable doing the activity. It should be “easy”. Out of the box, it should be attractive, weighty. Quality is the name of the game.
- Function: whatever the product is designed to do, it should do it better than previous designs in use and execution.
- Form: the product should reflect the attitude and tastes and lifestyle of the user. It should be a comfortable and easy and enjoyable experience that engages the senses in a positive way.
What makes quality brand marketing?
First, what is a “brand”? A brand is the culture of the company behind the product. It is the values, the tastes, the preferences, the vision, the attitude, the personality, the traditions. The brand reflects the people representing the product. When you see a product, what do you see? What do you feel when you see it? Who do you associate it with? What are they like? What do they like? What kind of things do they value?
The brand reinforces the “Who” that’s behind the product. When you purchase a product, you are endorsing the people who created and support it. You want to know who they are. The brand should communicate this, subtly or overtly. Perhaps you use bright colors to communicate fun and easy going? Perhaps you use earth tones to represent a more natural, sustainable, earthy vibe that indicates your allegiance to sustainability and nature? Perhaps your use more recyclable materials? Perhaps more industrial vibes, for durability and long use? Perhaps more vintage vibes to communicate a timelessness and classic appeal, people who appreciate the past and traditions? Who is behind the product. That’s what brand communicates, and it should seep into every aspect of the marketing. Which leads me to marketing….
Marketing is a multi-faceted word that could mean dozens and dozens of things to different people, but essentially marketing is about understanding people and their idiosyncratic relationships amongst each other. Understanding marketing contains three aspects: Knowing who you are targeting, how to deliver a message, and what message is most effective. Said another way: knowing who your market is, knowing how to communicate with them, and knowing what they value in order appeal to them and capture their attention and generate interest. Knowing who allows you to be effective with effort. Knowing how allows you to be efficient with time. Knowing what allows you to be efficacious with your desired result.
Knowing your market: Who are your consumers, and where do I find them? This is about identifying a community of people who possesses the need your product is targeting. It is understanding the demographic that will use your product:Who are they? Men or women? Single or parents? What ages? What geography do they live? What culture do they participate in? In what class do they exist? What are their values? High income or low income? What is important to them? They you ask behavioral questions, such as where they live, where they work, what their lifestyle is like, what are their tastes and preferences.
Knowing how to communicate with your market: This is about identifying how this community of people lives with one another in order to craft and adapt the message of your brand to appeal to them. This involves understanding how the consumers spend their time. It’s understanding their daily lifestyle, and their daily activities. How does your market consume information? What do they read? Do they spend their time inside or outside? Where inside? Where outside? Do they value the word of authority, or the word of familiar references? If authority, what authority is important to them and where do they look to find that guidance? If familiar references, who? Family? Friends? Those in the same occupation? Neighbors? Online communities? What print do they read? Do they read newspapers? Magazines? Do they drive past billboards? Do they watch TV, and what TV? What websites do they visit? What buildings do they visit and frequent and how do they get there?
Knowing how to capture attention and generate interest: This is about what your market values, which directly links to your brand as well as the product your presenting. Knowing who your market is allows you to adapt your language and the way you deliver your message to produce the ideal result. What language do they use? What unique values appeal to them? What idioms and slang do they use that is unique to them? What idiosyncrasies do they possess? It is understanding the need more than anything else. What resonates with them? What is important? What do they crave? What do they want more of? It’s about presentation. When your target customers are going about their day to day life, what will stick out and capture their attention? Then, what will hold their attention? It must stand out and speak to them in a way that appeals to them, in a way that satisfies something they are looking for, that they want to associate with. Perhaps it speaks their language. Perhaps it represents something they value, like high class, like cultured taste, like family values, like nostalgia, like education, like quality, like practicality.
In the end, knowing who your market is, how they communicate and live, and what they value allows you to connect in a sustainable way and gain loyalty.
It’s now enough to have only one or two of these. You need all three for effective marketing.
What makes a quality sales force?
Sales is about closing deals, or getting as many target customers as possible to agree to purchase.
There are two aspects to sales: presentation and process.
These words can be used interchangeably with a host of other synonyms that infer the same thing. But what we’re talking about here is how to be effective, and how to be efficient.
The presentation part is what most people think of when they think of sales. It’s the charisma. It’s the salesman on the phone, lauding the features and benefits. It’s the impression they make on you. The attitude they possess. It’s everything you perceive when the salesman is presenting you an opportunity to buy, to make a transaction that acquires you some perceived value. This is the “front end” of sales, the side the public sees. The image. You can always be more effective in your presentation, because it deals with human interaction. Effectiveness is the name of the game. When you’re speaking with a prospect, what’s your close rate? That determine’s how we determine how effective you are. Presentation engages perception, and appeals to values. Presentation improves by identifying and implementing best practices. It deals with what’s at hand, and how to adapt to the moment in front of you to yield the desired outcome.
The process part is the organization behind the madness. It’s the systems that are implemented to organize activity to be most productive, it is the CRM, the scheduling, the follow up, the metrics, the goals. This is the “back end” of sales. Its the aspect of sales that involves self-management. In regards to process, efficiency is the name of the game. Process deals with time, and time is finite. How can we do more work with less time? You have a list of 1,000 leads, and you’re goal is the speed at which you acquire new business. How do we contact, follow up, and track the progress of each of these leads in the most efficient way? This is the study of process. It is the methods in which you tackle your goals. It deals with delivering you to the moment at hand in a way that maximizes your time, and eliminates wasteful energy.
There is a balance, however. One cannot spend too much time on one or the other.
There are countless other aspects of business to elaborate on, but this is the outline. There is of course operations which involves accounting and order fulfillment and customer service and human resources, but these are, in my mind, less important than what was mentioned here, and while necessary to running a business, they will not make a business great. They are only necessary for completing the transaction.