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What business are you really in?

 20 January 2020     Donald Cooper 

A few years ago, while walking through a shopping mall in Calgary I came across a beautiful flower shop. Displayed outside the doorway, in the mall aisle, were mixed bunches of fresh flowers, nicely wrapped and ready to go. A great idea to make that ‘impulse sale’.

But there was just one problem. I searched everywhere for a price and there was none to be found. There was no price sign and no price on the flowers – nothing that would allow me to make an instant decision to buy, which is what an impulse sale is.

I nipped into the shop and chatted up the proprietor, asking her how much the flower bunches were.  “Oh, they’re $12,” she said. “And, how do they sell?” I asked. “Not very well and I don’t know why,” she replied, adding, “they’re a great price.”

I asked her what business she’s in. She looked at me as if I had two heads and said, “I sell flowers.  Can’t you see that?”

“Yes, you do,” was my reply. “But that’s not what business you’re in. You’re in the ‘love’ business; the business of helping people express caring, joy, sorrow, support or celebration – and all of that is love. And you’re in the business of making it easy for people to buy. So, what those flowers need is a sign that says, ‘Bunches of Love…only $12.00’ and I bet you’ll sell out every day!”

I asked her to humour me and give it a try. I also gave her $50 to get the sign made. Then, I asked for her business card so I could call her in one month to find out how her ‘Bunches of Love’ were selling.

I followed up, as promised, and learned sales of those ‘Bunches of Love’ had immediately tripled. She also reported she and her staff were now focused on doing everything with love and treating every customer with a feeling of love, joy and gratitude – and overall sales were already up 15%!

In every market, whatever you sell, the business that figures out how to add emotional value to every customer interaction and then makes it easy for the customer to buy will become the dominant player.

How might this apply to your business? Ask and answer these two simple questions:

Question One: “What business are we really in?” Define what you sell by how it adds value to your customers’ lives and by how it makes emotional connections with them.

Question Two: “How can we make it easier for our customers to make a wise purchase decision? How can we become their ‘Caring Coach’?”

So, how can you redefine your business and the products or services you sell, in a way that focuses on helping instead of selling, while making powerful emotional connections with your target customers.  And how can you communicate that in words to enhance those connections and change your focus. That’s what ‘Bunches of Love’ did for a flower shop in Calgary.


Phoenix AMD
MIFF 2020
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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