1. Ask the right questions & listen.
2. Get to understand the customer, product, and market (and be honest).
3. Develop a strategy and stick to it (but ensure that your mother can understand it).
4. Think big and act small.
5. Marketing is All.
Listen. Ask the right questions. Understand. Get the little stuff done every day, and make sure what you're doing maps to the strategy you laid out.
Leslie Koch, President of the Trust for Governors Island, is responsible for the planning, redevelopment and ongoing operation of Governors Island, a 172-acre island in New York Harbor. Originally an abandoned military base, she led the creation of a master plan for the island's park and public spaces - no small feat having to deal with multiple interests in New York City.
Customers will only buy your product or service if they:
Remember that customers do not buy features, they buy benefits – and they select a product or service based on the total value offered.
Paraphrasing & Quoting Wikipedia:
Value is the relationship between the consumer's perceived benefits versus perceived costs of receiving these benefits. It is often expressed as the equation:
Value = Benefits / Cost
The customers get benefits (e.g. productivity, additional revenue, labor savings, etc.) and assume costs (e.g. purchase price, implementation, training, maintenance). Value is subjective (i.e., a function of the customers’ estimation).
Quite simply, a business wins an order by convincing a customer that they provide more value than other businesses. Customers, particularly those technically inclined, do not buy based on fluff and tend to rationalize any buying decisions. I have heard too many product and marketing managers justify their pricing premium with broad statements such as “We’re the name brand”, “We have the best specs”, “We’re easy to use”. Those statements and $2.50 will get you a ride on the NYC subway. Sounds like motherhood and apple pie.
You need to quantify for the customer and yourself what are the unique differentiators and the value that they bring to the customer versus the next best alternative.
Let's use a new car purchase as a simplified example:
You are looking at justifying the purchase of a Ferrari.
Economic Value Analysis (EVA)
By using an Economic Value Analysis (EVA), you can determine how much value you offer, how much more it costs a customer to work with you, and what your net positive unique value is to a customer. Many of the values change depending on customer and marketing segmentation. An EVA avoids fluffy propositions and forces you to "put your money where your mouth is". You attach a dollar value to each product feature/benefit to help quantify its worth to a customer. You can also consider it as visualizing your pricing and value positioning.
For an EVA, you need to determine :
Determine the Economic Value before negotiating with your customers. An Economic Value Analysis will help you substantiate your net unique value in quantifiable units of measure that a customer cares about and will help justify your premium.
To quote David Allen:
"Want to know one of the easiest ways to act on your creative ideas? Stop trying to hold them in your mind. Your mind is a great place to have ideas, but a terrible place to manage them."
As many of you know, I am a practitioner of David Allen's GTD system and I've used the following to illustrate life for most of us (I've always seen smiles and nods when I show this):
Here, we have Bill interrupt our thoughts at least 4 times... without a productive end result. It's natural and it's real.
So remember, your mind is for creating ideas, not to hold them. Get a system to organize your tasks and day - and stick to it...so you don't wake up and think about Bill at 2 AM in the morning.
The website 43Folders.com is a great introduction to GTD (Getting Things Done) or search this blog for earlier GTD articles.
"There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?"
- Pam's final line in “The Office”
How many of us half-jokingly feel that we are in the movie “Groundhog Day”, repeating the same day over and over? Do you sometimes just “go through the motions”? How often do you treat a person coming into your office, a phone conversation, or an email, as an interruption or just something to take care of? Have you ever been treated like an interruption?
I learned about awareness, being fully present and mindfulness from my dad - but not in the way most would think. Life changed when my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He knew that he had arthritis but we never told him about the Parkinson’s. I could see that his steps were getting slower and smaller, getting up from the couch was increasingly more difficult, his speech more slurred, yet he always had his smile and laugh. Each visit home was a chance to see and be with him one more time. Dad tended to repeat his stories about his past. He would regale about “the good old days”, being in the Merchant Marine, on British convoys being attacked by German subs, recalling the speed of the destroyers, working in Russia (“it was so cold that you can see your urine freeze as you pee'd”). I would always laugh and ask questions so that he could talk more. Someone suggested that I record the conversations for posterity but I just could not. A part of me felt that listening to them later in life would be too painful; I also felt that no recording would ever be able to capture how special those moments were to me. It was important for me to be fully present, to live the father-and-son moments. I made an extra effort to imprint those conversations and our connection into my brain and my heart. Perhaps that is why I can picture him on his couch right now looking at me, smiling and happily recounting his adventures.
Awareness, being present, mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is happening to you from moment to moment. It’s the old phrase: “Stop and smell the roses”. A manager at a major internet company sadly told me about her international travels – she hated it because all she ever saw were airports, hotels, and offices.
It’s also about respect and honor – for others and one’s self. I learned the importance of seeing each person as worthy of my undivided time and attention. I refuse to gaze over to a ringing phone or flashing PC calendar – the individual talking to me is the most important person to me at that moment. It is a privilege not an interruption. Managers (especially technical people) tend to try to solve the problem in mid-conversation, to interrupt and be impatient. I learned not to be judgmental, to do what Stephen Covey calls “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. The same applies at home. No matter how tired I am, I try to live the moment with my family trying to imprint the time reading with my boys or just going to the playground.
It also means transparency and honesty, to only make those commitments that I can keep and to push back when I know that I cannot deliver.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Being present and mindfulness means taking the time to acknowledge, connect with others, to thank them, to touch base, to genuinely care about someone's family or something of importance to them, to show them that you value and appreciate them. It's about thanking the cleaning lady and returning the shopping cart at the parking lot - all people at all levels. These personal connections and conversations have led to better understanding and more productive and fulfilling relationships. Colleagues and customers have become friends and people whom I truly care about.
Finally, awareness, being present, and mindfulness means to be grateful for all you have received and to repay those who helped you in your journey. Pay it forward by helping others through acts of kindness, good deeds and charity.
The character, Jim, in the final episode of "The Office" said: "I wish there was some way to know that you're in the good old days before you leave them." Try to be fully present, aware, and mindful. What you are looking for is often already around you - you were too busy looking to see it.
Frank Lio is a Product Manager, Strategist, and Change Agent in the Hi-Tech industry. His growing track record of successes include creating 3 winning software products, leading nationwide seminars, and turning around a failing business unit. He is currently serving a dual role as Product Manager and Business Team Support Manager at Instron ITW.
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