A check arrives in my office and a one-day meeting is scheduled. The business owner arrives on the appointed day.
This is going to be tough. It always is.
To earn my money, I must take the client through 5 steps that are easy to understand but hard to do. This is the process my staff and I use to grow little companies into big ones. But our magic can’t happen until we’ve extracted these answers from our client.
What are we trying to make happen? How will we measure success? See it clearly. Say it plainly.
What is the competitive environment? Do we understand the felt needs of our prospective customer? What is holding us back? Name the limiting factors.
When two of our goals come into conflict, which one bows the knee? Prioritize our objectives.
What would be the shortest route to our primary goal? What levers might we use to dislodge impediments? How might we nullify other limiting factors? Are we willing to modify the business model? This is the moment when the future is won or lost.
Are we willing to pull the trigger? Lets quit talking and DO something. Nothing changes until action is taken.
Seventy-five or eighty percent of the time we can tell business owners how to get to the next level and they’re happy with us. But about 1 in 5 business owners will fixate on a symptom and refuse to see the root disease. Here’s what it can look like:
I ask, “What are we trying to make happen?”
“Traffic is flat. We need more traffic.”
After evaluating the limiting factors, I say, “Your media plan indicates that you’re already reaching more than enough people to achieve your goal. You’ll have more traffic when you have a stronger message. What new message are you willing to give me?”
“Can’t we just say more strongly what we’ve been saying all along?”
“No. The limitation isn’t the language; it’s the message itself.
“I don’t think we need a new message. We just need to use a different media. Which one do you recommend?”
When the client’s self-analysis is wrong, they often grow frustrated when I refuse to join them in their delusion. “But Roy I don’t think you fully understand our essence. We truly love the customer. We treat them far better than any of our competitors. We greet them at the door with a smile, get them a cup of coffee or a soft drink and then listen attentively as they tell us about their problem. We provide a far superior experience. If only you could capture this and communicate it with a really great ad or through a more effective media, I just know our company would grow.”
In the old days, I would accommodate these people by telling them that they weren’t on the right track and in my professional opinion their message plan couldn’t be made to work, “but if you insist, we’ll go ahead and do the best we can.”
I no longer do this because I got tired of hearing the report, “Roy, we did exactly what you said and it didn’t work.”
I’d rather be the jerk who refused to believe in your dream than the jerk whose ads didn’t work.
There is no benefit in the perfect execution of a bad plan.
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