What’s the most important question in business? That’s the premise of the book I’m reading by Ian Chamandy, who also spoke at The Art of Sales conference I attended two weeks ago. This book is challenging how I view business and marketing. It’s a book that I recommend every business owner and leader to read.
Ian Chamandy writes that the most important question that a business or organization should answer is, “Why should I choose you?” At first, you think that this question only relates to sales and marketing. But it actually applies to the entire strategy of a business. Here’s the various ways that this question can be asked:
– Why should I give you my best effort when I work for you?
– Why should I read your email (and answer it)?
– Why should I trust your company?
– Why should I pay attention to your presentation (or your commercial)?
– Why should I invest in you?
– Why should I pay your invoice in time?
– Why should I donate to your cause?
– Why should I approve your proposal?
These questions relate to different parts of the company such as HR, Operations, Purchasing, Research & Development, Finance, Administration, Sales, and Marketing.
In a World Full of Choices, Clarity is Refreshing
The world is getting more and more complicated. With increasing technological advances and the plethora of information at our fingertips, we have more choices now than we’ve ever had before. In this article by Time Magazine, Microsoft researchers measured the average attention span of 2000 participants. Since the year 2000, the average attention span of people has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. That is apparently less than the 9-second average attention span of a goldfish.
That’s why it’s even more important today to have a clear, concise, and compelling message. Because if you don’t, your audience will just scroll to the next thing on their smartphone, looking for something interesting that’s worth their attention.
Answer the Question in 7 Words or Less
Ian Chamandy challenges businesses to define who they are in 7 words or less. These 7 words should be memorable, to the point, and articulate the company’s DNA. He calls this the business’ core proposition.
Here are a few examples of core propositions from Ian’s book:
– DG Ltd (a retail shelving installation company): Coming Sooner
– Daniels Corp (a residential developer): Love Where You Live
– Longo’s (a chain of multigenerational family supermarkets): Treating You Like Family
– VHA Home HealthCare (a not-for-profit providing home health care services for the elderly): More Independence
– United Van Lines (a moving company): A Higher Standard of Care
My favourite part of Ian’s book is the case studies he shares of the companies listed above (and a few more). He gives the background of the organizations and how their lack of clarify was hurting them. He then explains the process they went through to understand the core identity of the organizations and how they came up with the “7 words or less” core propositions.
Here’s a few more examples of the vision statements / core propositions of other businesses:
– Birite Market: Creating Community through Food
– Charles Schwab: Helping Investors Help Themselves
– Cold Stone Creamery: The Ultimate Ice Cream Experience
– Instagram: Capture and Share the World’s Moments
– Nike: Just Do It
– Salesforce.com: The End of Software
– Disney: To Make People Happy
– Oxfam: A Just World Without Poverty
Clarify Transforms Your Organization
One of the things I believe in is the importance of having focus in an organization. Ian Chamandy writes in his book, Why Should I Choose You? that having a clear vision transforms your company in six ways:
1. It gives you a strategic focus that guides every decision you make and every action you take.
2. It gives your leadership an elevated confidence to lead more boldly into a bigger future.
3. It gives your employees a focus for their thinking that makes them more innovative and creative.
4. It reveals new opportunities for revenue you never knew existed.
5. It gives your employees a sense of purpose that inspires them to perform at a higher level.
6. It gives you a clear, concise and compelling answer to the single more important strategic question in business: “Why should I choose you?”
Who are You at Your Core?
Gaining clarity and focus is actually extremely difficult. The question “Why should I choose you?” is closely related to the question “Who am I at my core?” Answer this question requires reflection, self-awareness, and digging deep. You have to understand the things that you care about, how you view the world, how you want to make the world a better place, how you impact the people around you, and what the people around you value about what you do.
I am currently working with a business to define their vision. We’ve spent a few months (on and off) brainstorming, reflecting, meeting, writing, editing, and re-writing and we feel like we haven’t nailed it yet. It’s been a frustrating experience because I initially anticipated that it would take a few weeks. The challenge is narrowing everything this business does down to one short sentence. Through the process, everyone on the management has gained a deeper understanding of who the business is at the core and what makes them stand out from their competition. That in itself has been very valuable. Everyone believes this process is important and so we continue working at it.
Why Should I Choose You?
Can you answer this question in 7 words or less? If so, I’d love to hear what it is. Send me a quick email or message to let me know!