Five steps to famous
In business, famous is good. Famous is larger than life! Famous has visibility and credibility! People flock to famous. They pay more for famous. They text, tweet and blog about famous. The media promotes whatever is famous, making it even more famous! Being famous creates powerful marketing opportunities and makes a huge difference to your bottom line. We’re not talking ‘Hollywood’ famous here, but rather being famous to your target customers, in your chosen market. That’s all that matters.
But famous doesn’t happen easily or overnight. We’ve all heard of musicians and performers who have struggled for 20 years perfecting their craft in order to become an overnight success. You have to do the work to be extraordinary and then constantly market and promote that which makes you famous.
In business, becoming famous is a five-step process.
Step 1: Deserve to be famous. There’s no free ride here. You need to commit to doing something absolutely extraordinary that grabs your target customers and differentiates you from your competitors. Mediocrity is no longer an option.
What will be the ‘big idea’ in your business that clearly sets you apart? Will it be your uncompromising quality, innovative design, large or small selection, high or low price, your speed, your expert knowledge, your technology, your personal and joyful service, convenience or, perhaps, the famous people who do business with you?
In my days as a fashion retailer, we became famous for our policy Please take as many items into the change room as you wish. No other fashion store in the world did this. We offered free hot and cold drinks, electric massage chairs for husbands, a Pirate Ship Play Area for kids, and change tables with free diapers, wipes and cream for babies in distress.
We offered awesome merchandise at honest savings and our staff were not on commission. In fact, a sign just inside our front door announced Our staff are NOT on commission. They treat you this well because they love what they do. Women hate pushy commissioned salespeople, so we dealt with that.
This is the stuff that made us famous. Women drove for hours to shop with us, the media talked about us over and over and our sales were three times the national average. To be extraordinary takes insight, creativity and courage.
There’s lots of talk in business today about creativity and innovation. But nobody talks much about courage. There’s no point in being creative if we’re not also courageous, because without courage we’ll never have the guts to implement the cool creative stuff that we come up with.
So, in your business, specifically what insightful, creative and courageous things will you do to deserve famous?
Step 2: Earn their trust. The next step on the road to famous is to be trusted. If you aren’t building trust, you aren’t building anything. Trust in your ability, trust that you’ll deliver as promised and trust in your integrity and values.
Take car repair, for example. First, I need to trust you know how to fix what needs fixing, on time, first time. Next, I have to trust you won’t overcharge me or do unnecessary work to pad the bill. Finally, I need to trust your staff won’t take my car out for a joy ride or steal the parking meter money stashed in my console.
We all have trust issues. And for good reason. None of us was born cynical. We got cynical one bad experience at a time. So, in our fashion store we had a clear customer commitment: No games, no tricks, no lies. We lived by that every day. And it created trust.
So, in your business, what specific things will you do to deserve and keep the complete trust of your target customers? What policies or practices need to be created, changed or dropped completely? There’s no ‘smoke and mirrors’ here. Don’t try to fake it. Sooner or later, that will end badly.
Step 3: Get noticed and remembered. After creating something worth being famous for, and being trusted, the next step is to make sure you’re noticed and remembered by your target customers. If you’re not noticed and remembered, you don’t exist. How will you stand out in your crowded, undifferentiated and cynical marketplace?
What is it about your business name, slogan, logo, web site, packaging, location, physical premises or advertising, promotion and use of social media that will get you noticed and remembered?
There once was a liquor store in New Zealand called Cheap Liquor. Simple, clear and easy to understand and remember. Their name was their brand promise – just like Miracle Grow plant fertilizer. Contrast that with this personal experience. No long ago, I needed to rent a car for a week, I found Discount Car Rental was $400 more than their competitor who didn’t have the word discount in their name. How can that be? Have a clear and compelling brand promise and keep it with every customer, every time! A business can’t be built on broken promises.
So, in your business, what will you do to create clarity, get noticed, be remembered and create excitement? And will you always deliver?
Step 4: Build relationships. Go beyond being trusted and remembered by building relationships with customers as a group and as individuals. Relationships that make strong emotional connections and create true customer ownership. Relationships that have customers coming back, becoming fans and telling others.
Regular customers want to be recognized, thanked, appreciated and rewarded. And they want that to happen joyfully. The good news is technology now helps you do all of that affordably. But first you have to want to do it. You and your team need to be passionate about and committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives. More and more, great relationship-building customer experiences will be delivered by technology. But they will first be driven by the heart. Without the heart, the technology is useless.
In the first ten years of owning our summer cottage, I spent well over $80,000 at Home Depot. But they didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. They did nothing to recognize, thank, appreciate or reward me. So, when an excellent, locally owned building supply business opened nearby, I immediately switched. This new business used heart and technology to quickly learn who I am, what I had bought previously and what I might want in the future. I was greeted and appreciated by name, they were joyful, knowledgeable and proactive, they kept their promises and, when there was a problem, they fixed it. We had a relationship and I loved it!
Depending on the size and nature of your business, there are many ways to proactively build relationships. From hiring, training and encouraging knowledgeable, joyful and caring people to implementing data analytics that allow you to proactively communicate tailored offers to individual customers, you have many human and technology-based options.
Be their caring coach. Coach customers on how to wisely choose, effectively use, maintain or update, and in some cases, safely dispose of what you sell. Make a list of everything they need to know or do to have a successful experience with what you sell at every touch point. And then coach them on how to do that.
So, what specific things will you do, or stop doing, to build relationships that add value and give you a powerful competitive advantage? When will this happen, who will make it happen, at what cost – and how will you measure the results?
Step 5: Effectively communicate your compelling value. There’s no point being the best if you’re also the best kept secret. If you embrace the first four steps wonderfully with creativity, passion, courage and flare in a way that creates excitement and builds trust, you have a good shot at becoming famous! But you must also constantly communicate your extraordinary products, services, value, values and experiences. Do this through advertising, promotions, events, contests, a world-class web site, one-on-one conversations, your customer database and social media to create followers and fans who text, tweet and blog about you, you have a better shot at becoming famous!
Bonus tip: Many business coaches and marketing books tell you to create and grow a customer database. You should have three different databases because you’ll send different messages to each. Creating and updating these three databases is a great job for a student intern.
They are a customer database, a prospect database and a ‘media and key influencer’ database.
If you create a database of media and key influencers who broadcast, write or blog about what you sell, then proactively tell them the exciting new things you’re doing, what’s happening in your industry, what consumers need to know or beware of, you have a good shot at becoming famous! Dare to be the articulate, passionate, intelligent ‘go to’ authority on whatever it is you sell or do. Become the trusted and respected spokesperson for your industry. Be a story and then tell your story. That’s how it works. The media will help make you famous!
If you sell business-to-business, become actively involved in your customer’s industry association. Serve on their board of directors, write articles in their industry magazine, deliver helpful seminars at their annual conference and participate in their social events. This will help you become famous!
There you have five clear steps to becoming famous. Is this more work than quietly bopping along being mediocre and whining about lousy sales and a crappy bottom line? Absolutely. It always takes an extraordinary effort to deliver extraordinary results. So, how will you use these five steps to make your business famous? Remember, famous is good. Do the work.
That’s it for this week. Stay safe and live brilliantly!
Editor’s Note: This is an update of a column Donald wrote back in 2014. His message is particularly relevant today, especially in an ultra-competitive retail sector bracing for a new normal in a post-pandemic world. MJK.