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It’s often tempting to simply list “features and benefits” when writing copy. It’s often appropriate, or even necessary, to talk about how what you have is better than what the other guys have. If that’s the best way for you to make your case, go for it.

On the other hand, you might also want to consider how something you DON’T have may be the EXACT reason why the prospect should become your customer.

For example, in their commercials, Nationwide Insurance talks about the fact that they don’t have shareholders. The implied benefit is that they are focused on taking care of YOU, the customer, not shortchanging policyholders in an effort to maximize shareholder returns. The fact that they are not some huge, publicly traded company is presented as having VALUE for you.

Even having fewer customers than the other guys can be a benefit to your customers. The benefit is that you can assure your customers they won’t get lost in the shuffle. You can promise your customers more intimacy than the other guys. Or more customized service. Or more tailored solutions based on how well you know and understand their business as a result of working so closely with them without having an enormous customer base distracting your attention.

Avis Car Rental did this superbly many years ago when it stopped trying to compete with Hertz for the #1 position and instead proclaimed, “We’re #2, so we try harder.” They came right out and said, yep, as the “little guy,” we know we NEED your business, which means we can’t afford to make mistakes. So we’re going to work to keep you happy and keep you coming back. The whole “underdog” story resonated well with the marketplace.

Next time you’re thinking something like a smaller footprint in the marketplace is a drawback, try saying to yourself “That’s exactly why you should hire us,” then put yourself in the shoes of your customer and figure out how what may appear to be a disadvantage could indeed be the very reason why they should do business with you.

What you “don’t have” could turn out to be your biggest asset!

 The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car, its the one who refuses to lose” – Dale Earnhardt


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You’ve probably heard this one before, but like a lot of good stories, it bears repeating.

Two sales people from an American shoe company visit Aboriginal Australia. One reports back, somewhat despondently, “There is no market here…nobody wears shoes.” The other reports back, excitedly, “There are tons of customers here…nobody wears shoes! Send inventory immediately!”

Both could be proven right based on their interpretation of data. A key difference between success and failure is often going to be VISION, which is why even though “big data” and all these other tools sound so great, there will never be anything that replaces entrepreneurial instinct and enthusiasm.

The artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life. The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art




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I’m as bad as anybody else about complaining about how it seems like everyone is either talking or texting, that none of us communicate in person like we used to, that it’s a big time waster, yadda yadda yadda. But perish the thought that I might have to ever go an hour without my smartphone!

It’s not too big an exaggeration to say that the smartphone you and I are carrying around is really nothing short of a miracle when you stop and think about all the ways it has enriched, or has the potential to enrich our lives in the form of convenience, savings, information connectivity… the list goes on and on.

Just think about how remarkable it is that such power, which didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago, not only exists today, but is affordable. Just about anyone who wants to can  personally own more computing power than the richest and most powerful among us could even access not too long ago.

Technology author Aurthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Next time you use your smartphone for something, think about how you would have accomplished that task before the advent of the smartphone, if it was something you could do at all, and you may find that it is indeed magic!


Comments Off on Stop taking that smartphone for granted!

Technology can be both an opportunity and a threat. On one hand, it’s a threat because a new technology can kill a great company or even an entire industry, regardless of how big a player in the industry an organization is. Imagine being Smith Corona and being a market leader in typewriters, then to do an OK job of making the transition to word processors, only to get slaughtered by the personal computer.

On the other hand, technology is a remarkable opportunity, because it lowers entry barriers! An organization of just about any size can afford a computer, and there are tons of free software applications out there from business plan templates to free accounting programs to free programs to help you build your website. FREE! Check out places like Quickbooks and Google Docs and WordPress before you spend a dime! Technology has lowered transaction costs and entry barriers in more ways than we can count!

On the other, other hand, it’s tough to compete on just technology. If we try to differentiate ourselves through our “fancy website” or that we offer “secure shopping,” or that we offer “free wifi,” before too long, the consumer says, “So what? So does everybody else!” thanks again to the prevalence of technology. The 49ers’ new stadium fiasco is an unfortunate example of that.

Plus, because technology is changing so rapidly and so vastly, it requires an ongoing investment that we have to consider in our strategic planning.

As you might have guessed, whether technology is a threat or an opportunity largely depends on whether it’s in the hands of a capable leader like YOU! Incidentally, this is also why LEADERSHIP will never go out of style. As Jack Welch predicted way back in the 1990s in his book, Jack: Straight From the Gut, “While information will be available as never before, it will always be human judgment that makes the organization grow.”

You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails.” -Christophe Poizat