Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt.3

(If you didn’t read Part 2 of this series, check it out here)

“Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.”1 John 3:18 (NLT)

I think if I had one message to share with the world it would be this: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. This idea applies to every area of life. Let’s focus on how it pertains to business for now.

Businesses don’t exist for their own sakes. Sure, you become entrepreneurs to earn money and to try to live the life you dream of. Hopefully you also hope to make the world a better place and improve the lives of others through your work. But ultimately, your business is not about you.

Walmart founder Sam Walton reminds us that “There is only one boss. The customer.” Without customers, you have a hobby, not a business. So why do so many companies treat their customers and clients like anything less than the very reason they exist?

Why do many entrepreneurs fall in love with their product or service, to the detriment of the people who they are designed to serve? Theodore Levitt gives some terrific illustrations of this point in an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review in 1975 called “Marketing Myopia.” Using examples from Hollywood to oil companies to railroads, Levitt shows numerous billion dollar mistakes companies and entire industries have made because of their preoccupation with their products instead of their customers. Many businesses have made themselves obsolete in the process.

(I strongly encourage you to read “Marketing Myopia” and take notes. The historical and practical lessons are profoundly valuable.)

Instead of being enamored with what we offer, we need to make our customers our number one business priority. How do our products serve them? How do they want to be served? How could they benefit them even more according to their expressed desire?

Elsewhere I have called this mentality “lowercase syndrome.”

As a Christian entrepreneur, you put God first, others (aka your customers/clients) second and yourself last. You should esteem others more highly than yourself, offering yourself as a servant, even as Christ humbled Himself to become a servant (Philippians 2:3-7).

Should you try to earn as much money as possible? Absolutely! Do it by offering the most value in the marketplace, becoming the most trusted provider of whatever you sell and making it as easy as possible for your ideal customers to buy from or work with you.

(John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, had 3 rules concerning money. The first rule is to make as much as you can.)

For many of us, business is what the Lord has purposed for our lives. Do you think He designed a plan for you that required you to focus on yourself, your needs, your desires? Of course not. Selfishness is never God’s desire. He wants you to consider the needs of the people around you. Your business might be one of His ways to help you think about yourself even less.

Be a good steward of your opportunities. Be a blessing to each and every one of your customers instead of thinking of them as walking dollar signs.

In the words of advertising legend Leo Burnett, “What helps people, helps business.” I think God is pleased with that.

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In Case You Missed It

Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege and wonderful pleasure of being interviewed by Yasmin Razaq for her Explode Biz Profits event.

We talked about:
– how recessions are good and USPs are bad
– possibly the dumbest advertising sign I’ve ever seen
– two foundational principles for writing copy that people will respond to, and
– how to keep your messages out of email jail.

I also shared how you can get my ebook Stealth Selling gratis.

Go check out the replay at http://businessmarketinggirl.com/explodebizprofitsreplays/. I’m not sure how long Yasmin will keep this page open, so if you have any interest at all, don’t wait too long.

Update: If you’re interested in hearing the recording of this hour-long interview, I’ve got it right here. If you’re interested in getting a copy of my book, send me an email and we might be able to arrange something.

A note on Unique Selling Propositions
Theodore Levitt said that selling focuses on satisfying the needs of the business, whereas marketing works to satisfy the needs of the customer.

With that in mind, the USP is inherently focused on the company, product or service itself. Even a benefit-rich USP can be off-base.

Feature-focused USP: “Our product is awesome. It’s made from the strongest steel ever produced.
Benefit-focused USP: “Our product is awesome. It’s more durable than other products, so they don’t have to be replaced as frequently, saving time and money.”

Sounds good, right? But even the benefit-driven USP can be improved upon. These are selling points, rooted in the needs of the one who needs to make the sale. What if you moved into the realm of marketing defined by Levitt?

Unique Value Proposition: “Our customers are awesome. They save time, money and headache by using with the most durable product available. It works more reliably, for longer periods of time and with fewer replacements needed.

The wording is purposefully corny, but you see the difference, don’t you? It may seem like a tiny distinction, but even the tiniest change in perception and approach can create a big change in results. A slight edge makes all the difference in the world.

Don’t make your audience dig for the value they’ll get from you. Sure, they might be able to figure it out by your statements about how great your product is. But why not make what’s in it for them obvious?

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Quote of the Week 62

“In a sense Ford was both the most brilliant and the most senseless marketer in American history. He was senseless because he refused to give the customer anything but a black car. He was brilliant because he fashioned a production system designed to fit market needs. We habitually celebrate him for the wrong reason, his production genius. His real genius was marketing. We think he was able to cut his selling price and therefore sell millions of $500 cars because his invention of the assembly line had reduced the costs. Actually he invented the assembly line because he had concluded that at $500 he could sell millions of cars. Mass production was the result, not the cause of his low prices.” – Theodore Levitt, The Marketing Imagination

Need I say more?

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