3 Steps To Better Boost Business

how to better boost business improve company performance

Stand Out From Other Services

I’ve been in the market the last few days for a vendor. Specifically, a tree removal service, because a storm knocked over a great big tree into my yard. If you’ve never had large-scale yard work done, it’s not inexpensive; a service like this can cost you anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 depending on the type of work and where in the world you are. The purchasing process followed the standard customer journey: awareness, consideration, evaluation, purchase, and it went something like this. 

Awareness: Google for tree removal service near me. See a list of a dozen vendors. Consideration: With my wife looking over my shoulder, three vendors immediately lose consideration. Why? She points out two of them drive too fast down our road consistently, disrespecting the community. One of them we had a unsatisfactory experience with in the past. Six of them don’t have websites where we can check to see if they offer emergency tree removal service. That leaves three vendors. 

Evaluation: I make two initial calls, one to a vendor whose name we recognized and one to a vendor that has EMERGENCY TREE SERVICE prominently featured on their website and leave voicemails. Vendor 1 calls back right away and says they can come out to make an estimate later in the morning. Nothing from Vendor 2. Later that morning, Vendor 1 calls back and says - sounding very much off-kilter - that the morning got away from them and could they give me a call back tomorrow? I said fine, sure. No word from Vendor 2. So on a lark, I call Vendor 3. They pick up on the second ring, and with somewhat broken English tell me their crew is nearby and can they come by for an estimate in 30 minutes? I say yes, and true to their word, they pull up 30 minutes later and present the estimate. I let them know I’m waiting on two other callbacks and I’ll have an answer by the next morning. Purchase: The next morning comes and Vendor 1 doesn’t call back. Still nothing from Vendor 2, so I call back Vendor 3 and sign the agreement. They won the business - and it’s almost US$3,000 worth of work. Out of 12 vendors, only one made it to the final round. Let’s unpack what happened and where these companies’ marketing failed them: Speed matters. Vendor 3, while not in the initial consideration set, was the fastest to get the process rolling and was what ultimately won them the business. Digital presence matters. 6 of the 12 vendors had no websites, and websites are the fastest way for the customer to check if you can solve their problem. Vendor 3’s website wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright ugly, one step above a website from the 1990s. But it did its job perfectly: I had a problem, and they presented that they solved that problem. Responsiveness matters. Vendors 1 and 2 dropped the ball; Vendor 1 worst of all by promising something and not fulfilling it, while Vendor 2 just didn’t bother to return the call. Reputation matters. 3 vendors got knocked out because of how they conducted themselves long before I was a buyer. Something as simple as driving too fast down my road was enough to give a negative brand impression to my wife, and that meant they had no chance of being considered. Now, evaluate your own marketing and sales processes. Are you the fastest to return a call to the customer? The fastest to get them an answer? Does your website clearly state the problems you solve? 

You’ll note that despite this being a large purchase, I didn’t bother looking for testimonials, case studies, or white papers about tree removal. I looked for whether a vendor could solve the problem at all. When you promise something, do you fulfill it? Vendor 1 burned themselves because they couldn’t keep a promise even in the sales cycle, which meant they definitely wouldn’t deliver good service after purchase. What is your brand doing to build a solid reputation for itself? Little things matter! These lessons are basic and near-universal. If you get them right, your sales and marketing will be difficult to beat.

Avoid Online Entitlement

I observed a few other interesting interactions this week: I watched a prominent politician complain they weren’t getting the limelight, getting all the press they thought they deserved. I listened to a brand manager express bewilderment that no one paid any attention to their latest announcement. I heard an online personality bemoan that with so many webinars and livestreams, no one was tuning in. I received a scathing message on LinkedIn from someone who said they were entitled to a response to an unsolicited message from someone I’d never heard of. The last message was the one that resonated most with me, that truly highlighted the common problem: an entitlement mindset. Entitlement is a symptom of the “build it and they will come” belief, driven by ego and amplified by social media marketing. If we’re there, our audiences should be as well. If we’re putting in the effort, we should automatically be rewarded. No one is entitled to anything beyond basic human rights or things we have committed to in a contractual agreements. We must earn attention every day, every moment, every interaction. If we don’t deliver value, our audiences are in no way obligated to deliver anything to us in return. I get it - we put a lot of effort into our work. But effort isn’t value. Just because we invest heavily in something does not automatically mean it’s something other people want. I’ve written 22 marketing books over the last 20 years. Only two of them have done well. Did I work hard on them? Every one. Did I deserve more downloads, more sales, more attention? Nope. Because as hard as that is to stomach, I didn’t deliver the value that my audiences wanted. The only way to earn attention is to deliver unquestionable value. The only way to deliver value is to find out what our audiences want and give it to them. That’s something I’m working on every day, and if you want the attention your marketing needs, make it a focal point as well. It’s not cheap or easy - well-done research never is - but it’s the only long-term pathway to success.

Data Driven Business

Another new business observation: When people ask, “Why aren’t more organizations data-driven?” the usual panoply of stodgy business school answers come up: We don’t have a data-immersive culture We don’t treat data as a business asset Data lives in separate silos Data is a cost center There’s also a simpler, more personal answer: sometimes, being data-driven hurts. I’ll give you an example. When my parents asked what my holiday plans were, I had to tell my parents that it’s unsafe to travel for the upcoming holidays due to the pandemic. They’re almost 80, so they’re in the highest-risk category, and the data right now is going in ALL the wrong directions. More cases. More hospitalizations. More deaths. They were really, really upset with that answer. And who could blame them? We’ve spent the majority of 2020 isolated from each other, from normal activities, from friends and family. Some folks have endured loss of jobs, others loss of health and even life. If disease were something sentient to be negotiated with, this would be the time of year to do it, right? But it’s not. And the data - and credible experts say, more than ever, it’s not. So if we believe in science, if we believe in data, if we believe in facts, then we have to endure the pain of answers we don’t like at all. You’ll see this pattern in any organization as part of its adoption of data. You’ll get that first campaign whose data shows a very different answer than the emotional perception of it. You’ll butt heads with people who deem it a qualitative success even though it was a quantitative failure - especially if a project was someone’s pet project. 

At a personal, human level, this is why becoming data-driven is difficult. So why would we do it? Many don’t. Many resist it. But for those of us like you and me, it means the foundation we stand on is rock solid. When we propose something, when we launch something, when we do our daily jobs, we stand on solid ground. We can prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that what we did either worked or did not work, and from there we launch ourselves to more and greater successes over time. If you’re on a mission to become more data-driven, be prepared to deal with answers you don’t like. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That one soft skill will pave the way for more success with data than any other for your business.

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