August 8, 2012

5 Step Business Plan

Things don't have to be complicated to be effective.

I've been thinking a lot lately, trying to pinpoint the basic ingredients that make some businesses great. Here's what I came up with—a very basic five step business plan...

1. Employees come first. You can't pull the cart all by yourself. So treat your team members like gold and they'll pull harder for you.

2. Create something (a product or service or idea) that is truly remarkable and wrap it in a story that people can relate to and want to share.

3. Get it into as many hands as possible (give it away at first if you have to).

4. Reward the people who are telling your story. Treat them like royalty and they'll reward you with loyalty.

5. Profits start flowing when loyal customers begin evangelizing for you. Take a big chunk of those profits and re-invest it into improving the Customer Experience.

What do you think? What would you add (or change)?

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  1. Patrick, point #2 resonates with me very well at this stage of creating my business. I specifically like the part of "wrap it in a story that people can relate to".

    I've seen (and did it myself) many people having a great product (or potential of one) without knowing how to wrap it in a story.

    I find that to be an invaluable skill to learn, especially by first-time entrepreneurs.

    Any resources that comes to mind that may aid in that process?

    Appreciating this read indeed ...

  2. Hi Mazen! Thanks for the comment. Creating a story around your product (or service) is challenging. And I think it leads to another question... Who really creates the story? Is it the company or the customers? I believe the company can TRY to create a story initially, but as NLP teaches us, our communications often get distorted. The story you TELL isn't always what the target HEARS.

    So I would say, a marketer should make his best effort to craft a story with the intent to elicit an ideal emotional state.

    For example, I had lunch at Cracker Barrel today. The story they tell is about old-fashioned home cooking. They aren't trying to be a hip, trendy five-star gourmet restaurant. They want you to feel at home. Kind of a throwback to yesteryear. And the food and the waitresses and the old country store in the front of the restaurant are all consistent with their story (their brand). If Cracker Barrel stopped serving chicken and dumplings and started serving caviar, it would totally destroy their story.

    Now, knowing that our stories can and will get distorted, I think it's important to focus on creating remarkable experiences for your customers. Imagine if you took your car into the shop for new brakes... when you picked your car up, you noticed they had also washed your car, filled up the gas tank, and placed a complimentary bottle of water in your cup holder! That would be remarkable! And you would become a life-time customer. And you would share that story with your friends and family.

    So rather than YOU trying to fabricate an ideal story for your company, maybe it's most important to focus on creating truly remarkable experiences for your customers. Experiences that inspire them to create their OWN story about your brand. A story that they will share with others. Collectively, THEIR stories become YOUR story.

    As you know, a loyal customer is the most powerful and influential "salesman" you can possibly have.

    You could also ask your customers to give you a video testimonial in which they tell their story about how your service blew their mind. If you exceeded their expectations and solved their problem, then they should be happy to reciprocate with a testimonial.

    What do you think? Does that make sense?

    Also, here are some books I recommend:

    Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the hidden power of story by Peter Guber

    The Power of Story by Jim Loehr

    Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette Simmons

    All Marketers are Liars (Storytellers) by Seth Godin

    1. It makes a lot of sense, and I appreciate your NLP perspective about writing the story copy.

      Come to think about it, you are right; the reader will distort "reality" of the product anyway. This is a great reason to write in a way that elicit an emotional response, and leave it up to the reader how to "react" or "respond".

      So, what I understood from your comment above is that the company can do it's best to craft the story, but do it is ABSOLUTE best to provide the experience that solidify the story for the client. Did I get that right?

      Thanks for the book recommendations too. Great titles and reviews!

    2. That's right. I think the company should do their best to create an "ideal image" for themselves. Then, focus primarily on creating remarkable experiences for your customers (experiences that are personalized, customized, significant and unexpected). Experiences worth talking about.

      Over time, the customers' STORIES collectively become the company's STORY (or brand). It is then the responsibility of the company to continuously live up to the story.

      For example, a friend tells you about a restaurant that serves the world's best guacamole. They make it fresh at your table-side. That's a great story. And it was worth sharing. But what happens if YOU visit that restaurant and order the guacamole and they don't make it fresh at your table. They just bring a bowl from the kitchen. And the guacamole is a little brown (not fresh). How does that make you feel? It ruins the story. You gotta be consistent. And you gotta put on the same show every night for every customer. Treat each customer interaction like a first date! (Just my opinion) :)


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