The Cart Before the Horse

When people ask me what the most important factor in marketing is, they are surprised when I use the term culture.  Most expect a much more exciting answer: advertising, social media, big budgets, and SEO.  What these people don’t realize is that these are tools successful businesses use to communicate their culture.

Look at successful businesses: Apple, In-n-Out Burger, Nordstrom, and Zappos.  All of these businesses stress corporate culture.  These businesses understand they are not for everyone, but they strive to be the best to the people they serve (this includes customers and staff).  They consistently check the pulse of their fan base to make sure they haven’t missed a beat and are always looking for ways to improve their products and services.

How can a company be successful if they don’t know what type of people to do business with or what type of people to hire?  If a company doesn’t know what they stand for, how can they effectively market to their customer base?  Better yet, how do they even know who their customers are?

A defined company culture makes working and communicating with people an easier process.

1.) With the customer in mind:

  • You understand who to market to; which allows for a better ROI with advertising dollars
  • Your able to build your services and/or products around your customer base

2.) With your staff in mind:

  • It helps you find the best candidate to join your team.
  • Your staff is given clear direction so that everyone is reaching for the same goals.

Create a company culture, then create marketing campaigns focused around the culture.  Reminds me of an old saying…

Blade Runner and Business Sequels

Earlier in the week, I was shocked to hear that Ridley Scott plans on doing another Blade Runner film.  For those of you who haven’t seen Blade Runner, go watch it.  For those of you who have seen it, you understand what I’m thinking.  While it is a great idea to launch a new story based on Blade Runner, this has the potential to disappoint fans as well.  I started thinking about other sequels that may have made box office money, but in the long run ruined the franchise.

  • Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
  • The Star Wars Prequels
  • The Godfather III

According to research that Den of the Geek did earlier this year, there are 95 movie sequels currently being written, filmed or discussed.  95!  Some of these movies shouldn’t ever been produced, let alone get the green light for a sequel.

The idea of producing a successful sequel has also been a decision making factor in business.  Think about it…

  • Anytime someone starts a new job at your company, they immediately want to replicate successful plans and strategies that were in place with their previous employer.
  • A business strikes gold with one type of product, then decides to tweak it slightly so that they can target another market.
  • A business is successful with a new product or service and immediately their competitors are looking for ways to copy it and brand it as their own.

This type of strategic planning can create short term success, but to create long term success, a company must always be evolving, looking forward and acting upon other ideas.  Stay within a target market and stay within your depth of knowledge/expertise, but find other needs.

Apple is a great example of successful sequels.  The company created the iPod, then it’s sequel the iPhone, and now finishing off the trilogy is the iPad.  Apple wasn’t content with just producing more and more iPods, Apple used the technology and insight to produce other services based off the success of the first edition.

Who knows, maybe the new Blade Runner will be more like The Empire Strikes Back instead of The Phantom Menace.

What’s in a Name?

Every Monday our branch managers participate in a weekly teleconference. During the call, each manager gives an update on the status of their location in regard to sales and service. In addition to discussing accounts opened and loans closed, our managers also discuss how they interact with their customers. Here is one great example.

About a year ago a customer opened a small account with the bank. Recently the customer came into the branch and opened a large account. When asked why he opened the larger account, he said, “For over forty years, I have had an account at (competitor). Nobody at that branch knows my name. I have one small account with your bank and everyone that works here knows my name. Everyone here says hello to me when I walk in and says goodbye when I leave. That is why I will be closing all my accounts at the other bank and move all the accounts to you.”

Wow! Now I’m not going to go out and say which competitor the customer was talking about, but I will point out some differences.

  • The competitor has five (5) locations in the county. We only have one (1).
  • The competitor advertises great rates. We are able to provide better service at a premium price.
  • The competitor brags about providing great service. We remember our customers’ names (sorry, couldn’t resist).

At the end of the day, we are a business where people interact with people. Is it worth getting a “great rate” if the person you’re doing business with doesn’t even know you, your business or even your name?

STAR State Horse Show

STAR LogoLast weekend, I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR for short).  Star is an organization with a mission to foster personal achievement by providing therapeutic experiences using horse related activities for persons with disabilities or other special challenges.

The STAR State Horse Show is an annual event and this was the second year that my company volunteered to assist with the show.  Individuals who rehabilitate at STAR compete by riding a horse and performing in an obstacle course.  Last year I worked the concession area and wasn’t able to view most of the event, but this year I was able to work outside and view most of the event.

STAR Group

A great team of volunteers!

Halfway through the day, a co-worker and I were asked to hand out award ribbons.  As someone who has never ridden a horse, I was amazed by how everyone was able to do an exceptional job riding and conquering the obstacle course.  It was also very humbling handing out awards to the children that participated in this division.  Each child placed in the three different judging events and they all had family and friends there to celebrate with them.

Leaving STAR on Saturday, on thing was certain: I’m not going to wait until next year to help STAR.

On October 1st, STAR is hosting an event titled “Hoof It!”  I hope to see you there!

Honey the Mini

Honey, a "Mini" Horse with a "Big" Heart

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