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Got the guts to use this word? You must.

Got the guts to use this word? You must.

October 19, 2011

Remember when bigger was better when it came to stereos? Today, the smaller it is the cooler it is -- thanks to the power of this ONE word.

So funny'I see my kids walking around with iPods nowadays that are so small and so simple to use that I have to laugh. Remember the stereo equipment we used to listen to music?

Looking back it was crazy. It seemed like the bigger the better. One friend of mine had a turntable, receiver, tape deck and equalizer all stacked on top of each other and two huge speakers that could barely fit in the corners of his room.

The same was true in my car. I crammed a pair of huge speakers into the back of my suped up Toyota Celica and mounted an equalizer in the dashboard. I thought it was so cool! As the music blared the red, blue and yellow lights flashed in a wave pattern I created with the controls. Not sure it sounded any better but it looked cool!

I loved that equalizer, which I got in a trade. I created a promotion for Superior Sounds that resulted in the best promotion ever for the store, and I got the equalizer out of the deal. That's a story for another day'

But today, cool is making the devices so small you barely notice them. It's all part of the genius behind some of the smartest and most successful companies ' and it all comes down to the single, most powerful word a business leader can make today.

Can you guess what it is?

Want a meal while on the plane? Don't fly Southwest. But they do have all the pretzels and peanuts you can eat!

Name some of the most successful companies ' Apple, RedBox, Southwest and so many others and they have one very important thing in common.

Each one used the most powerful word you'll ever need: 'No.'

Each CEO had the kahunas to say, 'No.' You want to control the bass and treble on your iPod? No. You want a USB port on your iPad? No. You want your iPad to work like a computer? No. You want to browse the aisles looking for a DVD or video game? Not at RedBox in a 12-square-foot kiosk. You want first class seats on Southwest? No. You want a meal on the plane? No, but you can choose between pretzels and peanuts. Bon Appetite!

This iPod Nano is the biggest thing to hit the music industry in decades simply because the late Steve Jobs had the power to say, "No."

In every case, they created a niche for themselves and clearly defined who they were going to serve ' and just as importantly ' they defined who they would NOT serve. And anything that didn't fit their criteria, they said 'No.'

It's one of the most powerful things you can do as you position your business. We're constantly working with clients leveraging new opportunities, but it's also just as important to clearly establish to whom you'll say, 'No.' (In fact, I'm going to share with you a tool we use with our clients to help you too in just a moment')

Why is this important? Saying 'No' means you may need to offer fewer features or fewer services. And it also means turning prospects away'so you can focus on getting more 'Yeses!' from your best and most profitable customers. A STRONG NO, MAKES WAY FOR A STRONG YES. No more saying, 'we can try to do that and that and that''

So what you do the next time you get a request and get 100% behind it? You're too nice. You don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. You are so helpful and caring. Blah, blah, blah. You can't help everybody. So choose! The best line you can use when saying no is, 'No. I'm sorry I can't help you, but may I suggest'' Try it. You immediately re-establish yourself as the helpful expert others come to expect so they walk away with no hard feelings.

The secret to saying, 'No' is knowing what exactly you're willing to give up.

One of our clients, Estate Recoveries, Inc., handles consumer debt collections for some of the top financial institutions in the United States ' but not just any debt collections. They're specialty? Deceased debt collection. If you think it's tough trying to collect from the living, try collecting from someone who has died ;) All kidding aside, this is serious business that amounts to billions of dollars and I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it may be working with executors, lawyers and the courts trying to collect on a debt from someone's estate.

And while some collectors are trying to get any accounts they can get their hands on in the midst of a slow economy, ERI is growing by focusing more of their marketing and sales on this one niche.

We met last weekend with another debt collection company, Creditor’s Discount & Audit Company, and they just added 4 new clients (and they expect to close 15 more over the next 12 months).

How? By focusing their marketing and messaging on just small medical offices. Others may try to land big accounts with hospitals, but CDAC is simply targeting small dental and medical offices. That’s their niche. They prefer to work with the billing managers in small practices who feel overwhelmed managing their account receivables. And the billing managers love the personal service they get from CDAC.

LifeQuest Services is another great example. They manage billing services for clients. They could probably perform that service for just about any type of client but they focus all their energy just working with billing for ambulance services and fire departments. That’s it!

What are you willing to give up? Who will you say “No” to so you can get more “Yeses” from those who matter most to your business?

Evaluate your business model and niche. For example, look at the same tough questions when evaluating a standard mail promotion against a Lumpy Mail campaign.

Lumpy Mail promotions are oddly shaped packages you send in a mail that are so unusual they often get the attention of your hungry fish. For example, we often send small trash cans in the mail with the message, “We thought you would throw this letter so we went ahead and did it for you, but here’s why you shouldn’t.” Or we’ll send a bank bag with a message that says, “Finally, an offer you can put right in the bank.”

Are they cheap? No. Are they easier to package? No. Will they mail faster? No. Do they require less production and graphics? Probably not.

What are you willing to say "No" to? In this example, a company doesn't perform as well on price, quality or service compared to the competition. But they can compete by making the product simple to use. They're willing to give up those other things so they can create a a Big Zig - a dramatic difference!

Those are things many of our clients are willing to give up, however, because the response rates are usually 3-10 times higher than a regular mail promotion. That’s where they see their Big Zig! It’s such a dramatic difference! While everyone else is zagging their way through the market with regular mail promotions, clients are creating a Big Zig.

Does it always make sense to send Lumpy Mail? You guessed it, No. 
It’s a strategic business decision, just like you have to decide which markets to enter – and which ones to avoid.

In order for something to grow something else must die. But what are you willing to let die? What are you willing to give up? What will you say “No” to when the next “opportunity” comes along?

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,


Jon Goldman, President & CEO 
Brand Launcher 
Lumpy Mail