Today's memo is a long one
But worth reading if you want to make money.
If you knew it was there, they wouldn’t call it a blind spot.
Hidden within your blind spot is your limiting factor, the thing that holds you back and limits your success.
Find your blind spot and stare your limiting factor in the face. Acknowledge the reality of it. Then decide whether or not you want to overcome it.*
That’s right. It’s entirely possible that your blind spot – and within it your limiting factor – is simply an extension of your fundamental worldview.
You may already know your worldview is wrong but you’d rather continue being wrong – and suffer the consequences – than change it.
I can respect that. I have no problem with a person who is willing to pay the price for their self-indulgence. What I can’t respect is:
1. a person who is wrong and can’t admit it.
2. a person who makes a choice and then whines about the price of it.
I don’t want to get all sappy and personal with you, so let’s move this discussion to the marketplace. Blind spots and limiting factors are easily observed in business.
Here are the most common limiting factors hidden within the blind spots of business owners:
1. Market Opportunity
(A.) Opportunity is staring you in the face and you can’t see it. SOLUTION: Open your eyes.
(B.) You’ve overestimated the potential of your trade area. Consequently, you’re bumping your head on the low, glass ceiling of a small population. SOLUTION: (a.) Expand your product offering or (b.) open in a second trade area.
If you’re doing okay but have been looking for better ways to target the demographic and psychographic profile of “your customer” and these efforts haven’t been paying off, your limiting factor is almost certainly
(1.) Market Opportunity or
(2.) Product Appeal. Keep reading.
2. Product Appeal
(A.) Your product is flawed and you can’t see it. SOLUTION: Find someone who has the courage to tell you the truth. Then correct the problem they show you. Don’t live in denial.
(B.) Your product has a characteristic whose appeal you’ve underestimated. SOLUTION: Promote the newfound characteristic.
EXAMPLE: My partner Peter Nevland recently bumped into the owner of a bottled water service who asked him for some free advice. Peter asked, “Why should the customer of another water service switch to yours?”
“We’re locally owned.” “Ten percent of our profits go to charity,” blah, blah, blah.
Peter was unimpressed.
Exasperated and grasping at straws, the man mentioned his water had recently been voted “Best Tasting” by the readers of an obscure, local business journal.
“Why do you think you won?”
The man hung his head, “We cheat.”
“Our water is saturated with dissolved oxygen, twice the amount found in regular water.”
“What does that do?”
“Dissolved oxygen is what makes water taste good. It’s why cold water tastes better than warm water. Cold water contains more dissolved oxygen.”
“You’re saying your room temperature water tastes like cold water?”
The man nodded his head.
“Do you always saturate your water with dissolved oxygen?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
SAD ENDING: Peter was unable to convince the man to promote his better tasting water with dissolved oxygen. I swear I’m not making this up. The man remained convinced his ads needed to say, “We’re locally owned and give ten percent of our profits to charity.”
3. Staff Competence
(A.) Your front-line people see opportunities and solutions you don’t see. You limit your success by not listening to your people. SOLUTION: Listen to them.
(B.) Your people aren’t nearly as smart as you think. You keep listening to them and they’re wrong, but dammit, they’re enthusiastic and they make sense and they’re just so sincere! SOLUTION: Make some executive decisions. Be the leader. Tell your employees what you want. If they can’t get on board with it, let them swim in the cold waters of unemployment. (If that suggestion horrifies you, then it’s almost certainly your limiting factor.)
4. Message Clarity
(A.) You understand the benefits of your product but have been unable to communicate them persuasively to the public. SOLUTION: Hire an experienced ad writer with a history of success. (I know a lot of writers like Peter Nevland. You can meet them and read their stuff at AmericanSmallBusiness.com.)
(B.) You don’t understand how the public views your product category. Consequently, your ads are irrelevant to them. EXAMPLE: You’ve been saying, “We guarantee our work” when your customer’s real anxiety is, “Will these people show up on time or will I have to wait around all day?” SOLUTION: Speak to what the customer actually cares about.
5. Message Delivery
(A.) You have a song to sing, you just haven’t been singing it. (In other words you haven’t been advertising.) SOLUTION: Sing, little bird, sing!
(B.) You know who would be interested in your product, you just can’t figure out how to reach them.
EXAMPLE: You sell engagement rings and want to reach people who are about to get engaged, or you sell houses and want to reach people who are about to go house shopping.
SOLUTION: (a.) You can reach the online crowd with Google Adwords and/or use Search Engine Optimization to lift your website to the first page of search engine results. (I have 7 partners who specialize in this. Contact them through their posts at AmericanSmallBusiness.com.) (b.) Reach the general population with a memorable message using mass media and then wait for them, or one of their circle, to need what you sell. Become the solution people think of immediately and feel the best about. Build your reputation with ads that have a high Impact Quotient.
6. Competitor Strength
(A.) Your category has a strong leader and it isn’t you. SOLUTION: Use the leader’s reputation like a basketball backboard. Connect yourself to them through indirect acknowledgment.
EXAMPLE: Avis came out of nowhere to become a major contender to Hertz with the claim, “We’re Number Two. We Try Harder.” Burger King separated themselves from McDonald’s with the statement, “Have it your way at Burger King.” This statement would have made no sense if the public had not been acutely aware that McDonald’s made all their burgers the same.
(B.) Your category has never had a leader because it’s a category that makes people yawn. SOLUTION: Say something memorable. Do something ridiculous. Push far enough beyond the norm to get criticized. Just make sure they spell your name right. Choose who to lose as a potential customer. You can’t have insiders without having outsiders.
It’s not what you include, but what you exclude that defines you.
How are you defining yourself?
Most people limit themselves because of a blind spot. The things they exclude are excluded unconsciously.
The purpose of my note to you today has been merely to suggest that you choose consciously, rather than unconsciously, what you will exclude from
1. your business,
2. your reality,
3. your life.
Open your eyes. Look in the mirror. Make some choices. The clock is ticking.
Roy H. Williams
KUDOS to my Wizard of Ads partner, the lovely and talented Michele Miller, for her Wonder Branding blog being named by Forbes magazine as one of the Top 5 Marketing Blogs in America. Read the Forbes interview of Michele before you dive into the rabbit hole.
* MORE ABOUT WORLDVIEW – As I said in the memo, many of us are deeply invested in continuing to see the world as we've seen it in the past. Example: a girl named Joy recently sent this tweet to her friends: When does “pushing the envelope” and “getting out of your comfort zone” become “breaking down your value system”? Here's my answer: Joy, you are correct. Both phrases refer to breaking down your value system. Question: Does your value system need adjustment or is your judgment already perfect? – RHW