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A-Z of Business: V – Values – Your Guiding Principles

You may think of value as being the value you provide to your clients.  This, of course, is important.  After all, if you are not providing value to your clients (or customers), why should they work with you?  The value of your product and service needs to be clear and tangible to them if you are to have a sustainable business.

However, just as important are the values which drive you in your business.  Values are what you consider to be important.  They link into your vision, your mission and your strategy.  They are your guiding principles.

Values are also part of your brand – the personality of your organisation.

As well as guide you, they can be a barometer in decision making.  Let me take an example.  Let’s say your values are:

  • Quality
  • Teamwork
  • Integrity
  • Customer delight
  • Innovation

If there is an opportunity to buy into a joint venture which stacks up financially with a quick and generous return on investment, but the quality of the offering is lower than your current product or service offering, this will undermine your values of quality, customer delight and possibly integrity.  So, while on paper the deal may appear lucrative, the net effect is likely to be negative as people stop trusting your brand and you lose customer loyalty.  If you lose customer loyalty, this will, in turn, impact your revenues.  Remember it is more cost effective to keep an existing customer than it is to attract a new one.

But more important than that is your reputation.  Working counter to your values undermines your brand and your brand values become different to your espoused values.  They become your reputation – what people are saying about your company when you are not in the room.  It is important to really understand the values which underpin your business.  So, here are some questions for you:

  1. What is important to your business?  Truly?  (This is no time for self-deception)
  2. What do you want your clients and customers to be saying?
  3. How is this different to what you imagine them to be saying now?
  4. Are your values supported in your decision-making processes?
  5. Your marketing?
  6. Your logo?
  7. Your website?
  8. Your communications?

Remember that everybody in your organisation is an ambassador for your business (for good or ill), so it is important that they buy into your values with their own behaviours and attitudes.  To what degree are your values reflected in the following:

  1. Your hiring processes?
  2. Your hiring decisions?
  3. Your inductions?
  4. Your training?
  5. In your leadership style (and that of your other managers)?
  6. In how you the performance of your staff is managed?

Perhaps your lived values are different from the values you would like to be known by?  If so, it is possible to change them.  However, it requires a structured and integrative approach.  They need to weave into everything and to underpin everything with buy-in from each and every member of your staff – otherwise it is just a PR exercise which will backfire.  Getting this right can create more customer loyalty, more employee satisfaction and attract new business to you.
© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: U – USP – Why You Need One

Unique Selling Point

Do you really need a Unique Selling Point?  What happens if you don’t have one?  Well, unless you are in an industry with no competitors then your USP is what will set you apart.  It will give your prospects a reason to go with you instead of someone else.

In a struggling economy, you need all the competitive advantage you can get.  And if you are looking for a job, you need that competitive edge too. 

So, why should someone buy your product?  It is no longer enough to say “we are the best”, you need to say how.  And it needs to be based on reality rather than an aspiration that you are working towards. 

There was a wonderful sign displayed which went like this:

“We offer three kinds of service – Good, Cheap or Fast.  You can pick any two.  Good and cheap won’t be fast.  Good and fast won’t be cheap.  Cheap and fast won’t be good.  ”

At the gym yesterday, my personal trainer said the best advice he was given is to always think of yourself as number two so that you would still strive to do better.  This reminded me of the Avis USP which is “We are number two – we try harder.”  What a great USP which succeeds in turning a negative into a massive positive.

Apple’s USP is to think differently – they are the company best known for their innovation, having broken many technological boundaries.  They can be relied upon to be innovative, fun and customer-focused.

If you are finding it difficult to identify your USP, go back to testimonials you have been given by your customers.  It is easy to forget these but hopefully you have kept a log of them.  Also, consider what your competitors are doing and what they are promising.  How are you different to them?  What are the problems you are solving for your customers?

Let’s take an example.  For an IT support company, their customers may suffer from not being terribly IT literate, having to wait a long time before an engineer can fix their problem, or their technology is stopping them from getting on with their work

Let’s look at the customers’problem, potential USPs and their corresponding straplines:

  1. Waiting a long time for an engineer
    • USP – getting their IT problems solved quickly
    • Strapline – Your IT Support within 24 hours or quicker
  2. Not very IT literate
    • USP – use jargon free communication so that the problem is easier to understand
    • Strapline – Taking the Jargon out of IT Support
  3. Technology stopping them from working
    • USP – getting you up and running quickly
    • Strapline –Helping you to work when your computer doesn’t
  4. Frustrated that every problem seems to mean a new computer
    • USP – providing the simplest, most cost effective solutions
    • Strapline – Simple Solutions to Complicated Problems

Whatever your USP, do make sure that you live and breathe it.  You don’t want your USP to be “tried and failed” – it should enhance your reputation, not undermine it. 

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: M – Marketing for Success

Marketing for Success

Marketing is the activity which creates awareness of your products or services and brings new business in.  However, it does require you to spend time on your business rather than in it.  This means, creating a cohesive and sustained marketing strategy to create awareness and desire for your services or products.  A mistake a lot of people make is to try something once and, if it doesn’t yield the desired result, drop it and move onto something else.  That’s understandable but means that you are never leveraging off that effort.

Imagine that you decide on an advert.  You spend a fair amount of money, but nada.  Not one single enquiry.  Is advertising wrong for you?  Not necessarily.  There are lots of factors which could affect its success:  Was it the right publication?  Is your branding attractive and in keeping with your product or service?  Was the advert professionally designed?  Is your USP clear?  Is the wording enticing?  Does it have a call to action?  Does it clearly state how they can contact you?  Is it on the right page?  Does it lend itself better to radio or TV?  Is the timing right for you?  With advertising, one insertion is rarely sufficient.  It needs to be part of a campaign, but before committing to that, you need to make sure you have everything right.

Advertising is just one of many different marketing methods from seminars to networking, newsletters to referrals, direct mail to PR, internet to telemarketing, direct selling to alliances.  Social media is extremely popular but it is so easy to waste a lot of time if you don’t do it right.  How do you know which will be right for you?  How do you know where to invest your hard earned cash?  Marketing is an art, not a science, and it very much depends on your product, your competition and your available budget.

There are certain areas that you shouldn’t scrimp and save.  For example, I have seen many businesses who describe themselves as selling a quality product but whose business card is cheap, flimsy and ill-designed. Yet others who have hired telemarketing people who do not understand their product at all, and who follow a script which does not fit the conversation.  And yet more who spend a lot of money on a beautiful website, only to have no-one see it because it hasn’t been optimised.

Points to consider are why someone should buy from you?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competition?  Where can you differentiate?  Who is your ideal customer?  What problems are you solving?  Remember that people don’t want a washing machine – they want clean clothes.  Speaking directly to your customer and their needs makes all the difference – you want to inspire them to buy and have a brand which is suitable for your target market.

Once you have your campaign in place, it is important to monitor all your enquiries to see which effort is yielding the best results for you.  This lets you know what works and why, what doesn’t and why, so that you can refine, refine, refine.

Of course, once you have attracted a customer into your business, it’s essential to keep them happy. Happy customers bring more prospects to you.

If you would like help in navigating this minefield, do call me on 0845 130 0854.  I would love to help you make a success of your business.  After all, my success is your success!

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey – click HERE to find out about the author.

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A-Z of Business: B – Brand

We normally think of brand in terms of  company name, tag-line or logo and it’s an important part of your marketing.  Personally, I view brand as much more than this.  Let’s say your company name is  “Precision Accountancy Partners”, there is a promise implied in that name which suggests a level of accuracy and professionalism.

This message can be undermined unless you make sure that the following supports this message:

  • The quality and design of your business card and website
  • Your personal image – how you dress and how well you are groomed
  • Your voice
  • The words and language you use
  • Your body language
  • The behaviours you choose
  • The decisions you make
  • The quality of your work
  • Whether you deliver on promises
  • Whether you turn up on time
  • How organised you are

Whether you mean to or not, you are constantly communicating your brand.  I wonder what message you are sending out?  How does this compare with how you want to be perceived?  If there is a mismatch, what can you do to get back on track?  Sending out the right message can make all the difference for you and your business or career.

As Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney said “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.”  If you want to know more, why not book a session so you give your business the best chance of ongoing success?  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

To your success!

Tricia Woolfrey

PS  Have you recently had a psychometric profile?  This can really help you to understand your strengths and blindspots so you can work at your very best.  Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2012

About Tricia Woolfrey

Tricia Woolfrey is a business, performance and productivity coach, helping people to succeed in their business, and for their business to succeed. She has extensive experience with clients across several business sectors, including IT, telecoms, event management, entertainment, recruitment, finance, PR, coaching and therapy, support services, legal and more, ranging from large corporates to start-ups and the solo-preneurs.

Prior to running her own consultancy, she was Group HR Director for a multi-national organisation and is a member of the Chartered Institute for Professional Development. Her integrative approach to change has had profound results for individuals and organisations alike.

“The results there were nothing short of fantastic”- Guy Apple, VP Marketing & Sales, NVT, UK

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