Mike Abrashoff, former U.S. Navy Captain
Originally published: 01.01.08 by Terry Tanker
As the owner of your company, can you give an articulate, logical and concise answer to this question? What about your sales team and the rest of your employees? I’ll bet if you walk around your company and ask this question many won’t have an answer and the rest will struggle to make something up on the spot.
The answer to this question is commonly referred to as your company’s value proposition. It’s probably a safe bet you’ve spent years developing, tweaking and refining your business but don’t be surprised if you struggle with this, too. This answer isn’t something that is developed on the periphery. Someone needs to sit down and think about the right answer.
As the owner, you have the vision and strategy for your company. If you don’t regularly share these ideas with your team, it’s the reason you’ll get the blank stare when you ask them, “Why should someone do business with us?”
The knowledge of your organization’s products and quality of service is critical in this formula, but it’s the things that
Why did you start the company?
What were your goals and have you met them?
Does what you do make a difference in people’s lives?
How does your company make a difference for the customer?
I’ve had a few conversations about this with our columnist Guy Kawasaki. He has a great take on this topic and calls this the company mantra. He believes a mantra should be developed for the employees and if developed properly the mantra would explain to every employee and customer what the company stands for, and ultimately it answers the question, “Why should a customer do business with you?”
He illustrates his point with these examples in his speech “The Art of the Start.” [LINK TO speech on home page mentioned in original article] (The whole speech is about 45 minutes. If you’re pressed for time, the “mantra” portion starts around the 9-minute 40-second mark. Just fast forward to it.)
Wendy’s – “The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and partnerships.”
Guy’s version – “Healthy fast food.”
FedEx – “When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight.”
Guy’s version – “Peace of mind.”
Nike – “Just do it.”
Guy’s version – “Authentic athletic performance.”
After answering the questions I’ve posed above, the next step is to engage your employees and ask them for their input — get them involved. An interesting thing happens when employees start to grasp the real meaning of the company — they begin to understand their place in making it all happen. They understand that they are not merely cogs in the machine, but rather the heart of the business. When employees have a sense of pride in their work it shows. And when someone asks why they should do business with your company, brilliant soliloquies are effortless.
I hope this article has you thinking that a clearly defined communication strategy must be developed around this simple, yet very important question, why should a customer do business with you?
At HVACR Business our answer resides in our own mantra: Helping contractors master critical business techniques for success. That said, please take the opportunity to renew your subscription. If this issue of the magazine has a renewal card over the cover, it means your subscription is about to end. Please don’t let that happen — we enjoy doing business with you.
Terry has over 23 years of experience in the advertising and publishing industries. He began his career with a business-to-business advertising agency. Prior to forming Hutchinson Tanker Ltd. and HVACR Business in January 2006, he spent 20 years with large national publishing and media firm where he was the publisher of several titles in the mechanical systems marketplace.
In addition to his experience in advertising and publishing, Terry has worked closely with numerous industry-related associations over the years including AHRI, AMCA, and ABMA. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the American Boiler Manufactures Association (ABMA) and as chairman, for both the Associates Committee and the Marketing Communications Committee of ABMA.