I’m often asked, "What’s your business strategy?" and thought I would answer it briefly here. I’ll take the problem/solution approach in the hopes of simplifying the answer.
The Problem is that most businesses (small and large) have failed to grasp the imperative of establishing and maintaining a relationship with individuals. This is important because the days are gone when you can present yourself as a corporate monolith and expect people to be attracted to you. Perhaps you’ve heard the age-old and oft-repeated notion that, “People don’t do business with companies, they do business with people.” That seems obvious but judging from the way most companies present themselves, you wouldn’t think it’s widely recognized.
Not only do people do business with people, they do business with people they know, like and trust (hat tip: Bob Burg). If that’s true (and I think it is) then the goal of your web presence should be to give people the opportunity to know you (as a person), and reasons to like and trust you. Big companies naturally get tripped up when they hear this because the follow-on question is always, “Get to know who?”. If there’s not a central “attractive character” whose story can be told (the better option) then you can always tell a compelling story about the company (the recommended format for this story is the subject of another post).
Once I’ve given people a window into my soul through the telling of my story, how do I move on to the liking and trusting bit? The way you get people to like and trust you is simply by giving them something they value. It couldn’t be any simpler. “Every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.” (Proverbs 19:6)
Of course if you’re going to give people something of value there’s a presumption that you know what it is they value. This is where we often miss the mark. We presume to know what people value and we’re perplexed when they don’t value what we’re giving away. Finding out what people value and giving it to them is the foundation of every successful business development endeavour.
The Solution (i.e., the Vidalia Media business strategy) is coaching companies in the development of content and (often internet-based) mechanisms that promote a relationship with individuals. These are built on the foundation of an understanding of what the customer wants. Fortunately, there are more faster, better, cheaper ways of finding out than ever before.
That’s a fairly radical change for most companies because they’ve fully bought into the “feature-function” approach to attracting customers. “If we build it, they will come. If we describe our product accurately and convince people that it has enough features and functions then surely they’ll buy it.” This flies in the face of the reality that “all buying is emotional.” People generally buy for personal and emotional reasons based on the benefits that a product or service provides. The value-for-money proposition is nearly always a secondary consideration. Increasingly, the emotional and personal reason for the purchase is that they know, like and trust the seller.
My approach is fairly simple. Through careful research, I identify an attractive market niche that maps to the client’s core strengths. We research that niche to identify the “core complex” – (i.e., the beliefs, fears and desires) of potential buyers. We then develop content that speaks to this core complex. From here we proceed to give away valuable content as the means whereby we establish a relationship with buyers. That relationship is earned and naturally leads very comfortably to a conversation where commercial benefits are realized on both sides.