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DR. MARC'S BLOG

Archive for September, 2010

Identity Crisis

Friday, September 24th, 2010

 

What do you believe is one of the most important factors in operating a SUCCESSFUL business? If you said, “Sales, sales, sales!” – then you would be wrong.

Oh sure, sales are what sustains a company,
but IDENTITY is what makes a company.

Whether you’re a small mom and pop business operating a coffee truck, or the City of Las Vegas, IDENTITY is everything. Three towns east of our office is a commuter rail station. Parked in front of that station every morning, is a coffee truck that has delicious hot coffee ready and waiting for folks about to board the train into the city. What makes the coffee truck “THE COFFEE TRUCK” is not the coffee (although it’s freshly ground and tasty), rather, the modus operandi (aka the operating system that makes the coffee van so special). Purchase enough coffee to become a regular (a few a week), and guess what: The folks who operate the van will memorize your name and how you take your coffee.

It’s an amazing phenomenon to watch. The folks on the truck say “good morning” to their customers by their first name and then hand them their coffee – just the way they take it. That can be a blessing – especially during the colder months here in Chicago. They even have a punch card system so that you can grab your coffee, have your card punched – and pow – you’re off to work. What makes their business is WHAT they set out to be – which as it turns out, has very little to do with coffee.

The City of Las Vegas spends a lot of money marketing itself to meeting planners. Vegas was always known as “Sin City” – a place to gamble, drink, and have adult fun. But for some reason, to attract more families, the “experts” decided to rebrand Las Vegas as a family destination. It was like the desert version of Disney World. Alas, that didn’t work out so well.

Las Vegas then went back to embracing who they really are – an adult playground (i.e. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”). But that wasn’t good enough. Now the “experts” are once again trying to rebrand Vegas as a place “Where business gets done.”

Here’s the thing: When a meeting or a seminar is scheduled in Las Vegas, it’s not because of the meeting facilities (as nice as they may be). It’s because VEGAS IS VEGAS. No one has an event in Las Vegas because of the nice ballrooms. It’s because of what happens AFTER a day in a seminar, a day in a meeting, or a day on the trade show floor : You know, the restaurants, the entertainment, the bars, etc.

The problem with a lot of businesses, both large and small, is they don’t know WHAT they are, and even when they do, they don’t give themselves a chance to create a relationship between the WHAT and their prospective customers.

If you’re a VEGAS, then be a VEGAS – be the adult playground where people go to blow off a little steam. But if you’re going to rebrand yourself, then make sure that WHAT you think you should be – is what’s right FOR YOU and for your future. In the years that I’ve been speaking in Las Vegas, it’s gone from “Sin City” to “Family City” to “Play Hard City” to “Business City.” The decision to change is supposedly made by “experts.” But how smart could they be if they continue to correct their mistakes?

The “experts” are the folks who told the decision-makers out in Vegas that “This town needs to be more family oriented.” Then the “experts” came back to the boardroom and said, “This town needs to be the haven for librarians who secretly want to be BAD GIRLS.” Now they’ve come back to the table with, “This town has to be about BUSINESS!”

Most “experts” that I have met along the way, dress very nice and use lots of fancy business school language that makes my head spin and sucks the life out of my once caffeinated body. Boring. They tell you about their “expertise,” but in reality, they are a bunch of folks with opinions. And that’s really it – just opinions. As for their market research, well – IT’S WORTHLESS!

Example: If you were to interview a business person, and ask them why they like to go out to Vegas, they would say something like, “It’s a great place for a meeting, good food, and a great place to see a show.” If you were to be a fly on the shoulder of that same business person while they were out in Vegas, you would see them sitting by the stage – doing shots, and getting a lap dance or if that person was female, having some Chippendale waving his junk in her face. No business person is outwardly going to say, “I want to go to Vegas to escape my dull suburban life and have some hot chick playing ‘Hippity-Hop’ all over my lap or waving his goods in my face.” The people who want to go to Vegas, are going for FUN. The great meeting facilities are a given – or at least they should be.

My company and I have been given opportunities to work with some pretty high-end corporate clients. We’ve turned them all down. The reason? That’s just not who we are. We don’t want to wear dress clothes. We don’t want to speak “corporatese.” That’s not us. To me, doing that kind of work is like listening to classical music. It actually agitates me. On the other hand, if the client is a company of 400 where the CEO wears jeans and a dress shirt, and is addressed by his/her first name, then we’re a match made in heaven.

If you own a business, or you have a lot of influence where you’re employed, do yourself a favor: Find out WHAT  you are before stepping outside. Once you know WHAT you are, take every measure possible to let everyone know WHAT that is so that – when they are ready for WHAT you have, they know where to look. Got it? GOOD!

Have A GREAT Day!

…Dr. Marc Swerdlick