How to Do Business in the Future – Part 4
The Laws of Attraction for Events
Use simple and clear messaging that influences (not just informs) potential customers.
Per Guy Kawasaki; niche thyself. The holy grail of innovation is to create a product that is unique and valuable. When you do so, you make meaning, margin and history. So if you can create a mantra that explains what you do in three to four words (he says Nike’s should be ‘authentic athletic performance’), then you influence and explain to people why you exist.
Example; you could say, “The audio visual elements consist of two screens, etc” and that is giving them information. If you say instead, “When you use the first class AV equipment that we are recommending, you will be showing your audience that you are a first- class company that values its clients so much that you use only the best, the most current, and the most reliable equipment available.” That is “influencing.”
I remember a pitch to an automotive client. I asked if they would answer a question before my presentation. They agreed, and I asked, “What defines your product?’’ They replied: “Reliability, safety and reputation.” I then responded, “That’s what we have in common. You did not identify as ‘cheapest.” And then I continued to show them examples of that commonality without once addressing budget.
Don’t use meaningless words such as, “We are passionate about our product.”
I’ve made this point before, but it bears repetition. Everyone says this. And it should be a given. Of course you are passionate about what you do. If you weren’t, you’d be in the wrong business. Every word should be one that matters and sets you apart. I always think of the great jazz musician Miles Davis who said the true genius of his music is in the notes he doesn’t play. Don’t talk yourself into a corner. After a while no one will listen. Just be short and clear.
Find out what your customers watch, read, and where they go out to eat, travel, etc.
You need to relate to the passions of your client, especially the decision makers. Look at what is on their desks. Photos of family? What kind of photos? Are they on their boat? Is there a picture of a young ballerina? A football player? That’s the beginning of a great conversation.
What kind of art is on their walls? When you suggest lunch, what kind of food do they want? Where do they go on vacation? Learn who they are and relate to them on that level. Build a relationship with them. Don’t just think of them as a dollar sign.
Identify the value drivers for your customers.
This is a silly story, but a valuable one. Many years ago I was working with a client from the U.K. and kept suggesting various options in décor and theming for the company’s gala dinner. Nothing seemed to appeal to him. On a walk-through with the client’s wife I asked, “What are you planning to wear for the event?” She replied, “I am having a gold dress made for the event.” I then suggested that we create an event entirely in gold and when she poked her husband in the arm and smiled, I knew we had found what we needed.
Now that might not be a legitimate value driver. But if on your client’s desk or cabinet you see a plaque that honors him or her for charity work, you might want to take that seriously and dig deeper into his or her passions and commitments. Or if there are dozens of family photos, then assume you are talking to a person with family values and aim at constructing an event that plays to those values.
Remind your clients about the risks of making a poor decision.
I have a favorite phrase for this. “Who do you want to be in the trenches with when something goes wrong?” Something almost always goes wrong. It’s what you do when that happens that can make you or break you. For instance, when faced with unexpected gale force winds that made it impossible to hold a beach party, we found a new outdoor venue that was more sheltered, put up a beautiful tent and quickly redesigned an entire party in a matter of three hours. That comes from experience. A company without experience or resources will not be able to fix a problem. Flexibility, good resources and a calm demeanor are offerings not everyone has. I use as an example: if you needed brain surgery, would you go to the surgeon who has years of successful operations or the recent graduate from medical school who got a 4.0?
Don’t sell … SHARE … this is the time of the “Sharing Economy.”
We used to sell ‘the experience economy.’ But now we’re into the decade of ‘the sharing economy.’ That’s why social media is so successful. There are no longer any secrets. An idea like crowd-sourcing as a way of creating events is very ‘today.’ Flash mobs are about getting everyone invested into one activity.
Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. Nothing attracts a prospect like knowing that known and respected companies want to work with you, so share that. According to my friend, Colja Dams, president of Vok Dams Agency, “This is an era of word-of-mouth in 3D.”
In addition, keep in mind a quote from Norman Drummond of Drummond International, “There are no limits to what we can accomplish as long as we don’t mind who gets the credit.” So think; do you want the business or the recognition?
Ask “What can we do to make it easier to do business with us?” And what else?
These are the questions everyone should ask. Realize that the end product will not be appreciated if the process of getting there has been difficult or unpleasant. Your clients will tell you when you ask this way. Do you call too often? Do you send 15 separate emails when one with all the questions asked at once would be better for them? Did you assign a surrogate to produce their event when they thought they were getting you?
And the “what else” is equally important. At the point of design where you think you’ve given as much as they have asked for, ask “what else” would make them happy.
Show your expertise to potential clients.
Google what terms your clients could be searching under and get yourself on the first page of that topic. Offer to write articles in publications your clients read. Give presentations at conferences your customers attend. Create a blog that would be of interest to your clients. Take articles that you read in print or online that they might be interested in and share them. Do this even if there is no current project. Show that you listen to them and value them. And … Never hit the “send button” too quickly.
Always aim for the highest ground possible and take the high ground. Do not get involved in the taboo subjects of politics, religion, etc.
Remember: “You are not competing with your competitors. You are competing for people’s time. You can only do this if you value them and their time and show them respect and consideration. Then, they will give you their time.” –Colja Dams