Archive for December, 2012

Keep It Simple, Smarty

Naked Businessman Keeping it Simple for Success UndressedAs nudists, we’ve already figured out that architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was right: “less is more”. As entrepreneurial nudists designing, building and operating our businesses, let’s keep that lesson close to our invisible vests.

Simplifying your business can make it manageable, enjoyable to run, and attractive to prospects and customers. Make life a little easier for your customers and they’ll keep coming back and telling their friends about you.

How can you simplify your business for a more positive customer experience? Try these tips on for size:

Lose the baggage

My partner is always amused that I pack so much to go to a nudist resort for a week: towels, food, computer, books and magazines, sunscreen; an abundance of everything except clothes. Likewise, business owners often carry too much baggage into daily business life. We try to do too much in too little time. It can weigh us down like an overstuffed suitcase in each hand. What’s the fix? Ask for help when you need it, especially with those parts of your business for which others might be better suited.

Keep your elevator pitch short enough for a quick ride

Your elevator pitch is that 10- to 15-second answer to the question, “What do you do?”. Keep it simple. Keep it short. Keep it focused. Remember: too much information can overwhelm a prospective customer. During that initial meeting, don’t inundate the prospect by detailing everything you do or every client you serve or every success you’ve had.

Answer the Universal Question

Ever hear of WIIFM? It’s the ultimate question in the prospect’s mind: “What’s In It For Me?” Specifically, to turn prospects into customers, you’ll need to accomplish two things: 1) build rapport, and 2) let the prospect know what you can do for him or her better than anyone else can. Asking questions up front and focusing on the prospect’s needs (rather than on your products or services) can go a long way toward accomplishing both goals. And the likely result of maintaining an interested “servant” mentality is that you will answer WIIFM even if the prospect doesn’t come right out and ask the question.

Keep your “user interfaces” simple

Google, Apple and John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (publishers of the “For Dummies” books) have built global success stories by making sure their user interfaces are simple. Even though your business is most likely not destined for world domination, you still want a market leadership position. Knowing your market – and identifying your ideal client – is essential to making that happen. But regardless of the type of customer you seek, it helps to make your user interface as simple and intuitive as possible.

Just what IS a “user interface”? It’s any point where the prospect or customer “touches” your business. Any point at which your business bares part of itself in pursuit of a satisfactory customer experience.  Your company’s user interface(s) could be your website or your phone system or your salespersons or your customer-facing staff.

Ask yourself: Do these points of contact satisfy or frustrate? Does your website answer the WIIFM question with a minimum of searching? Does your phone system simply and intuitively lead callers to the right person or answers? Do your salespeople listen actively and offer solutions based on the prospect’s needs? Does your frontline staff make the customer feel comfortable and important? If you’re not sure, ask your customers. Make necessary changes to simplify and enhance their “user” experience.

Be easy to do business with

You – yes, you – are a user interface. Are you easy to work with? Are you often thanked for going the extra mile? If so, you are blazing a trail toward success. I’ve now done three projects for AANR; I’d like to think that this is due in part to being easy to work with, a partner committed to the best results and a positive working relationship. If you are not getting repeat business and referrals, maybe you aren’t going far enough to serve and satisfy your customers. Play nice. Put the customer first.

The Bottom Line:

Remember the acronym, KISS: Keep It Simple, Smarty. Simplicity almost always creates a better environment for customer acquisition and a more satisfying ongoing working relationship. Less is more. It’s the way of the nudist, and the path for the business owner to enjoy…success undressed!

How have you simplified your business? Be sure to comment!

Bob

Better Answers to Better Questions?

Naked man thinking Success UndressedMy holiday gift to you is a shorter-than-usual blog post. (You’re welcome.) Here it is:

One of the most common questions we ask, and are asked, is “What did you do today?” Almost invariably we answer with a laundry list of minor accomplishments: “I washed the car and did the laundry and finished that report I’ve been working on and I finally got a call back from…” and on and on. It answers the question, certainly, but in a literal, if less than meaningful or memorable way. Such an answer gets the small talk out of the way so we can get back to doing more “things”, and to creating and absorbing more noise.

But what if that question and its variations were banned? What if, instead of asking one another, “What did you do today?” we asked, “What did you learn today?” After all, just because we are no longer kids in school doesn’t mean we stop learning, right?

Or maybe the question should be, “Whom did you help today (that you weren’t paid to help)?” Doesn’t that elevate the very notion of being helpful?

And on that same note, what if the question became, “Whom did you sincerely thank today, and what did they do that went beyond what you expected?”

Or what about this one: “Whom did you compliment today?” Or maybe: “How did you take someone by surprise and make them smile today?”

Or these:

“To whom did you listen, today? That is, to whom did you really and truly listen? Listen not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your heart. And how did that make them feel?”

Or, “What did you do, today, to make a child feel grown up?” or “What did you do to make a grown-up feel like a kid again?”

Aren’t questions like these just as important as – or more important than – “What did you do today?” But even if that typical, expected question isn’t banned, you can still answer it in an unexpected, but more meaningful way. You can respond that what you did was learn something and help people and thank them and compliment them and hear them. And you can say that when you did those things, you transformed the person, just for a moment, but the moment was enough, because it made their day a little better. And isn’t it true that better days make better lives? And that better lives make better people?

The sad fact is that in business and in life, we follow scripts. They become embedded in our DNA. Society says, “Do this,” or “say that” or “go here,” and these become the narratives that chart our course. We do unto others as we have seen others do thousands of times.

But we nudists are a different lot, aren’t we? We often see the world in a different light, stripped bare of pretense. So, as we approach the new year, aren’t we the right types to shed the expected and start looking at life in a new way?

Consider this to be food for thought (that might be a tad more palatable than Aunt Minerva’s holiday fruitcake). Till next time…may you enjoy health, happiness and continuing success undressed.

Bob

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