Thank You Steve Jobs: Why Join the Navy When You Can be a Pirate?

Posted on October 6, 2011. Filed under: Differentiated Messaging, Management Concepts | Tags: , , , , |

“Thank you Steve Jobs.”  This content with this hashtag froze Twitter today.  I daresay, since the launch of Twitter, nothing has prompted so many millions of people to tweet, to retweet, to have the need to talk about an event, as has the passing of Steve Jobs. In my own opinion, the world lost a brilliant individual yesterday. His passion for innovation, excellence, and development of the “coolest” products is felt by me everyone (yes, I’m a Mac) and will be felt for many generations to come. But what about him inspired so many people?  I’m bringing back a post that I first wrote about a year ago.  It, to me, sums up what I’ll take from Steve Jobs…to be proud of being different.  Read on and, in honor of Mr. Jobs, find what makes you or your company different and go for it!

 

“Why join the Navy if you can be a pirate?” It’s a quote from Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. Jobs is universally recognized for his brilliant planning, bold statements, and charismatic keynotes unveiling the latest and greatest Apple has. (If you’ve never seen one of his keynotes, Google them; they are pretty entertaining.)

But Jobs is best known for leading Apple from market flunky status to market icon status. His willingness to be a pirate in the marketplace, versus joining the Navy, has led to Apple’s reputation of innovation. What would Apple be if it had gone the path of the PC world…if it had given up and said, “‘Me too’ is a high-enough goal for us?” I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have had the raving advocacy, the market growth, or the investor return we’ve all witnessed. It would have become one in the masses or, worse yet, gone into extinction. Instead, it’s a household name.

What is the key to Apple’s success? In my opinion, there are several:

1. Apple wasn’t afraid to be different; in fact, it embraced its uniqueness and staked a claim in its market for that uniqueness.

2. The company looked for what made it different – innovation – and used that to its advantage as a differentiator.

3. Apple made a decision to live and breathe its differentiator in every part of its company and customer experience, from its products to its advertising to its stores and employees. Have you ever bought something at the Apple store? You don’t go to a cash register…your card is swiped on a handheld device! You don’t get a mandatory paper receipt…you get an email receipt! Even the normally-mundane purchase process is innovative.

Find out what makes you or your company different. Then determine how it helps your customers. Does your speed to market give your clients a competitive advantage? Does the insight you bring to the table put your customers in a better place to foresee market changes and proactively prepare for them? Whatever your differentiator, find it, determine how it benefits your clients, then use it to your advantage…in your communications, your sales conversations, your customer experience.

Arrgh! Go on, be a pirate!

jkl

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Are You Buzzword Bingo Worthy?

Posted on March 28, 2011. Filed under: Differentiated Messaging | Tags: , , |

Have you ever heard of Buzzword Bingo? It’s a game, somewhat prevalent in corporate America, which was conceived to poke fun at the overuse of buzzwords in place of meaningful concepts or information. It’s not a difficult game to replicate in your workplace – simply create bingo cards and fill the boxes with the corporate jargon you hear every day. When you hear the word, block it out – when you block out an entire row, you’ve got a bingo.

Are you Buzzword Bingo worthy? Consider the following questions:

  • Is your product or service real-timescalable, and user-centric?
  • Do you have the bandwidth to take on more and still reach milestones?
  • Is your company uniquely qualified to offer a particular service?
  • Do you provide world-class solutions to mission-critical challenges that result in a win-win-win situation?

If you tend to use the bolded words in your sales and marketing materials and language, you’re pretty Buzzword Bingo worthy – and that’s not good! In essence, you tend to use jargon in place of relevant words. And that means you’re not creating a clear message for your prospects and customers about how you can help them solve their challenges or meet their objectives. Rather, you’re throwing overused buzzwords against the wall to see what sticks…and, by the way, so are most of your competitors.

So if buzzwords are the confusing norm in the market, think how easy it can be to differentiate your company simply by clarifying your message. And you can clarify your message in three steps:

  1. Choose your words carefully and define them.  People define words and phrases differently…make sure you and your prospects are on the same page by defining the buzzword rather than actually using it. For instance, what does real-time mean?  Is it instantaneous, within an hour, perhaps within half a day or even an entire day…or longer? Who’s to know unless you define it?
  2. Rather than using a buzzword, tell what you help your clients do. For instance, what can your clients do because of the instantaneous information you provide them that they couldn’t do before they had it? Can they plan ahead, react faster, save time, or save money?  Say that! Take that next step and tell what getting that instantaneous information means to them and their business.
  3. Tell a story that proves your claim. Nothing sells like a story. What story brings your claim to life? Tell that story – but no buzzwords please!

Are you Buzzword Bingo worthy?  Please, please, please pass on that “honor!” Clarify your message, tell it in simple, descriptive language, and toss a story, rather than a bunch of buzzwords, to your prospects. Let your competitors win the bingo, you focus on wining the sale!

jkl

 

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The Dog Biscuit Miracle

Posted on December 6, 2010. Filed under: Customer Experience, Practical Branding, Stories | Tags: , , |

The following article is from David Bond, the creator of The Wallace Street Journal. It’s a great testament that a stellar customer experience can be delivered in even the most unexpected circumstances. Read on…and thanks, David, for allowing me to share this!

Wallace, Idaho – To those in search of miracles, I give you this:

Without fail, every morning, give or take 5 minutes depending on the weather, at 0530 our newspaper appears on the front porch. Not in the weeds or the snow. On the front porch, right by the door, so a be-slippered old geezer can reach out for it without embarrassing his neighbours or getting frostbite on his toes, even in the dark.

The impeccable and predictable timing would be enough to remark upon. Except that, winter or summer, tucked into the newspaper is a dog biscuit. Whoever throws the paper on our porch has never met Chase, our dog, because he is inside the house at this dark hour. But Robert has heard a grump or a woof and figures somebody inside would like a treat.

Comes out of his own pocket, this newspaper-carrier’s milk bone. Now, milk bones are not the most expensive of things, unless you buy them 365 days a year for the hundreds of dogs who live along his route. And I know that our paper-guy does this, because at 3:30 a.m., throwing papers way up in Mullan, he is doing the same thing for the dog-people there. I have witnesses.

Now, come to find out, this individual lives in Smelterville. Smelterville is 30 miles west of Mullan. So in the damned cold and dark (winter or summer, take your pick) he departs the comfort of his feathers, picks up his newspapers in Kellogg, and by 0300 is in Mullan, throwing the day’s news and doggie goodies, and by 0530 or so is tossing the newspaper and the milk bone onto our front porch. This round-trip is about the distance between Seattle and Olympia.

And to top all of that, a couple of days ago, he dropped a Christmas card into the mix, strapped into the same rubber band as the newspaper and the milk bone. It was there on the front porch, at 0 Dark 30. The return address was, simply: The Newspaper Guy. Chase ate the milk bone and spared the card. Who says dogs are unsentimental?

I’ve caught the newspaper guy two or three times on the front porch, his beater breathing exhaust, thanked him for the good work he does every day. He respects my thanks, but he has a route to deliver, he is on his way. By looks he is an old hippie, like me, like most of my orbit. Just doing what he needs to do, except with a flair. I wonder, was he growing pot in California in 1965, or maybe just bugging out of the orange smoke at LZ Crystal on the last Huey before Charlie shot guys out from under him. Maybe, like me during those turbulent times, he was just passing through. I don’t know and I don’t care. Sacrifice is sacrifice and redemption is redemption. We all muddle through.

What I do know is that a guy gets up in the misery of the night, and goes beyond the minimum. He makes Chase, our dog, happy. And once a year thanks me for his business with a Christmas card.

If there is an America to be saved, it will not be trillions to U.S. and foreign banks. It will not be the Fed. It will not be a hideously powerful military steaming through the Straits of Formosa into the maw of an Exocet missile. Salvation will come from a guy waking up 20 miles to my West in the middle of the night, driving 30 miles to his east in a blizzard and, in addition to doing his job, caring about my dog. Without complaint, and with a great deal of grace.

Visit David’s website at silverminers.com

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Why Join the Navy if you Can Be A Pirate?

Posted on November 23, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

“Why join the Navy if you can be a pirate?” It’s a quote from Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. Jobs is universally recognized for his brilliant planning, bold statements, and charismatic keynotes unveiling the latest and greatest Apple has. (If you’ve never seen one of his keynotes, Google them; they are pretty entertaining.)

But Jobs is best known for leading Apple from market flunky status to market icon status. His willingness to be a pirate in the marketplace, versus joining the Navy, has led to Apple’s reputation of innovation. What would Apple be if it had gone the path of the PC world…if it had given up and said, “‘Me too’ is a high-enough goal for us?” I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have had the raving advocacy, the market growth, or the investor return we’ve all witnessed. It would have become one in the masses or, worse yet, gone into extinction. Instead, it’s a household name.

What is the key to Apple’s success? In my opinion, there are several:

1. Apple wasn’t afraid to be different; in fact, it embraced its uniqueness and staked a claim in its market for that uniqueness.

2. The company looked for what made it different – innovation – and used that to its advantage as a differentiator.

3. Apple made a decision to live and breathe its differentiator in every part of its company and customer experience, from its products to its advertising to its stores and employees. Have you ever bought something at the Apple store? You don’t go to a cash register…your card is swiped on a handheld device! You don’t get a mandatory paper receipt…you get an email receipt! Even the normally-mundane purchase process is innovative.

Find out what makes you or your company different. Then determine how it helps your customers. Does your speed to market give your clients a competitive advantage? Does the insight you bring to the table put your customers in a better place to foresee market changes and proactively prepare for them? Whatever your differentiator, find it, determine how it benefits your clients, then use it to your advantage…in your communications, your sales conversations, your customer experience.

Arrgh! Go on, be a pirate!

jkl

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