We’ve entered an entirely new marketplace for business with an entirely new set of rules. Businesses can no longer thrive following a strategy of going out and getting customers. Today we must become, in effect, magnets for customers and create a never-ending flow of new business that comes to us. It requires letting go of much of what we’re used to, what we’re comfortable with, and what used to work.
Let Cate represent a business. Cate can be in any arena of business – retail, business-to-business, consumer, industrial – it makes no difference. There are some new factors at work that can, if Cate gets them right, ensure steady and ongoing growth. Of course, the main rule is this: the rules always change.
The first factor that Cate must understand is that traditional advertising and marketing will play a much smaller role than ever before in creating business. They are still part of the mix, but the most powerful factor in buying decisions, whether business to business or consumer purchases of products and services, is word of mouth. Nothing else even comes close. It is the single most important element in the growth of any business. It is more powerful than any advertising and it should be at the core of Cate’s marketing strategy.
To be a magnet for business Cate must also change how she thinks about social media. It’s not what she says about herself on social media that influences prospective customers; it’s what her existing customers say about her. The Internet has changed the math on the power of Cate’s customers, be they satisfied or dissatisfied. They don’t tell a handful of people anymore. They tell dozens, or hundreds, or thousands. Today’s buyer of almost anything goes to the Internet to see what others think as they make their buying decisions. If the Internet, meaning everyone who posts their impressions of Cate, says “we love Cate’s business,” then her success is assured. She becomes a magnet for attracting business. If the Internet says “one star – stay away,” they stay away.
But Cate can’t have a strategy of just “hoping” that her customers or clients are saying positive things about her. Cate has to have an intentional strategy that first identifies exactly what she wants people saying about the experience of doing business with her. It’s not enough to want people to say “good things” about her. She’s got to pin it down.
The most powerful foundational strategy to enable Cate’s business to become a customer magnet and the simplest approach to creating winning relationships in business (and in life) is this: The Win-Win Strategy. It’s not just a good idea – it’s the best idea. It is a strategy and a mindset that never fails. Business magnets understand that to win, you have to create wins for others. This isn’t just some feel-good, motivational approach to business and relationships. This is how market leading magnets do business, with a constant focus on creating wins for customers, employees, business partners, and others in their universe of relationships.
Strategically, Cate’s first move should be to simplify the way she and her employees think about the business. If Cate is like most people, she’s making things way more complicated than they need to be. This is true of 90% of the people in business. We complicate things because it’s so much easier than the hard work it takes to simplify things. But if you can make things simple, you can move mountains.
To simplify and get everyone laser focused on what matters most, Cate should identify the three things that she must get right every time with every customer. These will be the three things that, if executed with excellence consistently by everyone in Cate’s organization, will drive that positive word of mouth that will grow her business.
One trap that Cate must avoid is thinking that her goal is to be “different” from her competition. To be a magnet Cate’s business should constantly focus on being better. Better beats different – every time and all day long. It’s become popular to think that a business can compete by simply being different. The problem is that “different” can be copied. It wears off. Quality never wears off. Market leaders succeed and sustain their success through never-ending improvement on delivering quality products and services.
Tactically, there is an amazing, simple, often overlooked competitive advantage in business that’s available to Cate and everyone else. It’s the advantage of being incredibly responsive to customers, prospective customers, and business partners. You simply cannot win and keep today’s customers if you make them wait. It is the unforgivable sin in business. Those companies that respond immediately create a distinct differentiation.
To sustain her business’s magnetism, Cate must adopt the Magnetic Mindset. First, she needs to know that her competition is good – really good. Cate should never fall into the trap of underestimating her competitor. It’s the ultimate rookie mistake. Second, she should make it her goal to never apologize to a customer. There’s only one way to reach that lofty goal: never do anything you have to apologize for. Cate and her team must get it right with every customer every time. Finally, Cate should say “No” to anything that distracts her from the handful of things that make her business magnetic. This applies first and foremost to customers who are the wrong fit. All business is not good business.
Becoming a magnetic business is simple, and really, really hard. Cate will have to do the hard work necessary to simplify, consistently excel at what matters most to customers, create winning relationships, be better than the competition, and stay focused on what matters most. But it will be worth the hard work, because once you become a magnet for attracting business, you create a stream of new customers and growth for your company.
– Joe Calloway is a top business advisor, speaker, and author of the new book Magnetic: The Art of Attracting Business. His clients include Coca Cola, IBM, Cadillac and American Express. Calloway is the Executive in Residence at Belmont University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and has been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame. Find out more at JoeCalloway.com and follow him at @joecalloway.
Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!