Look Like Sizzle, Be The Steak

You've heard marketing and advertising gurus quip, "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." Advertising initiatives best reach their target audience with benefits and the "wow" effect, not the value or features of their product or service. This may work well to get customers in the door. But once they're in, you better have some substance. How can you ensure you uphold the integrity of your business and still maintain the "Wow Effect"? It just takes well executed strategic steps for business AND personal development:

1. It's Already Done

Act like the goals you are working so diligently to achieve have already been reached. Walk with that confidence. Treat your leads like customers, your customers like guests in your home, and your staff like family. When you approach goals like a "done deal", you open up creativity reserves to think outside the box, access resources you didn't know you had and create opportunities for success previously unforeseen.

2. Get There From Here

It is not enough to act like you have arrived; you also get to devise a strategy map to get you there. Ask for your customers' input through surveys, polls, feedback forms. Have your sales force pay customers' a visit, just to see how things are going. Send a birthday card, send flowers, and send an article clip that can prove useful to a client. Never miss an opportunity to create relationship. The best way to ensure you don't miss opportunities is to create a plan.

3. Who Cares?

Make it fun and fulfilling to work in your company. Engage your human resources department to implement career development initiatives and placement programs that allow employees to choose their career tracks. Keep them in alignment with their skills and experience, as well as your staffing needs. Develop opportunities for your employees to volunteer in the community. Build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Run a marathon, or half-marathon. Sponsor a scholarship with your local high school and choose employees to be part of the selection committee. It increases your visibility, their corporate involvement, and your company gets to be a good corporate citizen. All for a good cause. Invest in your employees and in your community. Show you care.

4. Say What You Mean, and Mean What You Say

Address issues as they come up or as soon as appropriately possible. Sometimes we let things slide or leave things unsaid. This devalues what's important to you and insults the intelligence of the other person. Be open in your communication.

5. Create Win-Win Solutions

The belief of "looking out for number one" is so embedded in our collective consciousness that we have forgotten we are ALL #1 because we are all one. When you create win-win solutions, you not only generate good will among peers and supervisors, but you develop a reputation for fairness and professionalism. Everyone collaborates with a collaborator.

6. Acknowledge the Feedback

When customers take the time to write a scathing letter or make an irate phone call about horrific customer service or product quality, they are providing you with a valuable opportunity: Free feedback that you didn't ask for, didn't pay for, didn't market for or followed up on. It just fell on your lap. So thank your customer for being committed enough to your company to give you feedback on how you can improve your service. Give something away or at a steep discount. You have a choice: Swallow your pride, or dwindle your profits.

7. Invest in Your Employees

Celebrate birthdays. Give your Employee of the Month the coveted parking spot for the whole month. Offer direct deposit. Reimburse tuition 100% for courses in which they received an A grade. Publish accomplishments in the company newsletter. Have a company picnic. Offer discounts with common vendors (cell phone company, local bookstore, banks, dry cleaners, etc.). Host a company-wide, week long brainstorm session on how each department can increase its productivity and profitability by 30% within a certain timeframe.

8. Go Back to Kindergarten

When you take lunch, take a walk to a park, eat leisurely, and come back to the privacy of your office for a quick 20 minute power nap. You'll feel refreshed and replenished. Don't have an office? Build a nap center for all employees. Make it fun and, most importantly, nourishing.

9. Tie Up Loose Ends

Pay the parking ticket. Write that letter. Clean out your files. Make up with that client. Enroll in school. Back up your computer systems. Run the Clean Sweep Program on yourself, then your department, then the company (for more information, email us at [email protected]).

10. Give Yourself a Makeover

Lose the 15 pounds. Get that haircut. Buy fresh makeup. Reinvent your wardrobe. Give your car a paint job. Rearrange the furniture in your office or lobby. Give away old clothes. When you get in the habit of installing new practices and letting go of old ones that no longer serve you, you generate and circulate fresh energy.

11. Keep Your Commitments

When you say you are going to do something, do it, or else renegotiate another arrangement. Very few things are as difficult to earn back as your credibility and the trust of those who deal with you.

12. Play a Big Game

When setting your goals, ask yourself if you are stretching. Set your goals high enough to have to stretch for them. Make your growth systematic and strategic. If your goal is to call 20 leads this week, to close one sale, what would you have to do and believe about yourself to make it possible to call 50 and close three sales? If your goal is to go to dinner with your brother, just to reconnect, how about stepping it up and actually saying "I love you?" You know you are playing a big game when your first reaction is a big whine "I can't do that!" Yes, you can. Surprise yourself.

13. Be a Contribution

How can you make your customers' life more livable, your employees' work more enjoyable, and your community more cohesive? Everyone wants to know, what's in it for me? When you focus out, you immediately speak their language and enroll them in playing yours. No one plays with you if they think you are not on their team. So join them. And they will join you.

Monikah Ogando is President & CEO of Ogando Associates, Inc., a business consulting and coaching firm that works with start up and expanding businesses to implement action driven and results oriented strategies for profitability and a rewarding company culture. You can reach Monikah by email, [email protected].

In The News:

Bankers less glum about small business losses  The Australian Financial Review
Relief for small businesses  The Garden Island

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