“The Live Difference” going Viral

I just watched the latest TED video on “Crowd Accellerated Innovation” as result of a post on Seth Godin’s blog. I think everyone needs to see this.
My friend and colleague Tom Curran refers to the power of live web casting as “The Live Difference.” It put’s all this ‘text’ based social networking in perspective.
The reach of this powerful medium is mind-boggling, as is self-evident by this and the countless posts and tweets that will bring attention to this video. The question in my mind is which messages will influence the generations to come…

5 Principles to Maximize Your Value Proposition

A colleague and I were talking recently about how we present our value propositions. This is always a topic of interest, especially for us consultant types. Clients hire us because they trust us (who we are) and because they believe they will gain something of value from working with us (our value proposition). Both must be authentic and clear and, when it comes to the ‘something of value,’ it must be what they value. Lenora Edwards just wrote a great post on this subject titled “Sell Your Result, Not Your Process”.
Your value proposition should be integrated into all aspects of your business operation. To that end, I offer these 5 principles for maximizing the impact of your value proposition:

  1. Know it – From your client’s perspective

  2. Clarify it – Including your client’s responsibilities for a successful outcome
  3. Charge for it – Don’t lose money due to mononegotiatus
  4. Deliver it – With a consistent process that always keeps the end in mind
  5. Confirm it – To know the immediate and enduring nature of your results

Know it: As Lenora explains her post, the key is to know the value that you deliver from your client’s perspective. The more you know about how your value translates to your client’s needs on all levels, the better you can effectively present your value in a way that is relevant to a particular person or situation.
Clarify it: This is more than having an elevator speech and marketing materials. It is important to convey your value proposition consistently in how you interact and communicate as well as with the content and presentation of your materials, proposals, reports, invoices, etc. I also think it is important to clarify the responsibility that your client has in achieving a successful outcome and to be up front with them about it.
Charge for it: Your fee should reflect the value of the results you deliver, not the time it takes to deliver it. If you do 1 and 2 well, your prospective clients will ‘get it’ and you become a smart investment they can’t pass up. You can sabotage yourself if you don’t truly understand or believe in the value you deliver. I wrote an earlier post on this subject referring to a common malady that I call Mononegotiatus’ – The art of negotiating against oneself on behalf of one’s client. We have all done it, and it can be costly.
Deliver it: This is where the rubber meets the road and you do what you say you can do (given that the client understands and meets their responsibilities too). While it is results that count, your process is part of generating those results. Therefore, your process should consistently reinforce your value proposition and maintain your client’s confidence in you and in a successful outcome.
Confirm it: It is important to confirm that the value you think you delivered is the value that your client thinks they received. This is a key step for fine-tuning and continuously improving your value proposition in order to maximize the results that you and your clients achieve. I believe this should be a personal process and not relegated to some questionnaire or on-line survey (at least not as a primary means). I also think that it is a good idea to do this right after the engagement and once again after some time has passed. What you learn about the enduring nature of your value proposition can be very enlightening (and also point to new opportunities to serve).
Now it’s time for me to go back and re-read this post for myself so I can do a better job in my business…

Simple AND Easy: Acknowledge your Customers

Much of what I write about (and work with my clients on) comes under the heading of “Simple, Not Easy.” Some things, however, are Simple AND Easy. Acknowledging people is one of those things.
I went into a store the other day and stood waiting at the counter to get some information. The clerk was talking to a customer and there was another couple ahead of me also waiting to be helped. The time dragged on and on and the clerk never seemed to even notice me or the other couple (we were all standing within 6 feet of the counter and there was no one else in the store). I became increasingly frustrated yet I stuck around fascinated to see if he would ever make any effort to simply acknowledge our presence.
What would it have taken? Looking up and making some eye contact? A nod? Maybe a quick break from his conversation to say “I’ll be with you shortly” or perhaps a quick phone call for help from his fellow employees (who were most likely hanging out somewhere in the back room)? It seems so incredibly basic – such common sense – and it would have changed the whole experience.
At some level, all business is personal and as ‘persons’ we want to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, it seems that this lack of acknowledgement is becoming more common across the board. How many times have you sent an email or left a voice mail for someone with whom you have an association or do business with only to be ignored for days or weeks or forever? You have to call/email again (if you even bother). Are you going to go out of your way to buy from or refer that person? I’m not.
If you make your living by providing products and services to others it is common sense not to ignore those of us who have the potential to buy or refer or talk (or blog) about you. It’s even worse if we are already customers!
Even if we can’t get what we are looking for right away, we at least want to be acknowledged. It doesn’t take much to satisfy that want. It should be a consistent process you follow or it should be delegated in such a way that it is still personal.
Acknowledgement; It is such a simple and easy thing to do. It boggles my mind that so many people/businesses don’t do it.