People always ask for tips to successful growth. Although there is no manual or guidebook to growth that I am aware of, I thought I’d try to capture lessons I have learned along the way and share them with you. I call these the “10 Commandments of Growth” and recommend that thou shall:
I am a firm believer that everyone has a gift, so once you discover yours, you should leverage it in everything you do. Leave your unique mark with every encounter. Make it an experience that none of your competitors could copy, so closely tied to your brand that you are the only one who could offer it in just that way. Think about flying Southwest Airlines, buying a Dyson vacuum cleaner, or receiving a gift from Tiffany’s.
Listen And Observe
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Let the customer tell you in their own words what they like and, even more importantly, what they don’t and why. Stop yourself from interrupting them. Watch how they use your product or service; it may not be how you had envisioned it. There may be a new segment market idea there, so pay attention.
Read everything your customer does, do your homework and know what your competition offers. How are the problems being solved currently? What other options are out there? There is just no substitution for hard work and knowing more than anyone else around the table. Stick to the data, but trust your gut if you need to extrapolate sometimes.
I’m also a big believer that the more you give the more you get. Every time I have helped someone because I could, it came back in ways I could never expect. Although I charge a fee to speak at an event, I gave a pro bono talk to a group of students recently and one of the other speakers there was so interested in my speech that she hired me based on my presentation. Be a giver, because in a world of takers you really stand out.
Travel to other cultures, walk the halls of your own organization or the floor of a trade show. Open your eyes and ears; use all of your senses to understand what is available and more importantly what is needed. There are many ways to solve a problem, and the one that is most natural to you may not be the best one.
Don’t get too set in your ways. You have to stay fresh and relevant in the market. Whether you are Madonna, Nike, or Apple, you have to keep up with current trends. Your customer has a short attention span and is bombarded with about 5,000 messages a day, so you have to find ways to break through the clutter out there.
Do you know what happens when a prospect calls your company or a customer has a complaint? Try walking a problem through the system and see how your customers are treated. It is five to 10 times more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep the ones you already found, so make sure they have a positive experience every step of the way.
Ask For A Report Card
Do you really know what your customers think about your product or service? Anecdotes are fine, but collect the data where you can. Everything can be measured online. If you don’t ask, your competitors will.
If you aren’t excited by your business, why should anyone else be? Enthusiasm is contagious, so spread the energy and excitement or find something else to do.
Pause And Reflect
Take time to process the good, the bad, and the ugly. What is working? What isn’t? Why? Course correct and learn as you go. The best sprinters require time to rest and recover; they train by running intervals. Do a post mortem after every major event, so you never make the same mistakes twice.
Be Courteous And Kind
Never underestimate the power of common courtesy in your success. Send thank you notes. Ask about your customers’ and employees’ families. Kind gestures go a long way in building your reputation, your brand, and your business.
Paige Arnof-Fenn is founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a global strategic marketing consulting firm working with early stage, emerging as well as Fortune 500 companies on branding, media relations, marketing strategy, advertising, and market research. She is a popular speaker who has worked in senior marketing positions at three successful startups, the Olympic Games, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola before starting her own firm in 2001.
Read more ‘Room To Grow’ columns:
When – And How – To Build On Your Success
Growth Through Trust
A Sense of Purpose
Success Follows Smart Leadership Creating A Growth Environment
The Downside Of Success