Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Can You Turn Your Business Into An Experience

Author and management guru Harvey Mackey frequently tells a story about a basic cab ride from Manhattan, N.Y., to LaGuardia Airport. Mackey gets into a cab and the driver says, "Hi, my name is Walter. I'm your driver, and I'm going to get you there safely, on time and in a courteous fashion." The driver then holds up a New York Times and a USA Today and asks if Mackey would like them. Then he offers Mackey a fruit basket, complete with snack foods, juices, soft drinks, etc. He then asks, "would you prefer hard rock or classical music?"
This cab driver is turning an average ride into an experience. He's taken the most mundane experience imaginable--a cab ride--and transformed it into a special experience for riders.
Customers love riding in Walter's cab. His cab ride hits their emotions, and emotions are something that no competitor can copy.
This cabby thinks differently. He stopped thinking like every other cab driver in town, and discovered what it would take to turn his boring, mundane occupation into an experience customers would always remember.
You can do that with your company. Not with mirrors, magic or miracles. Just by thinking differently. As yourself, "How can I turn my business into an experience?"
-Ron Ameln, SBM

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Reports Of Our Death...

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Mark Twain
The same could be said about our magazine. It is amazing the number of people I meet on a weekly basis that are convinced I'm lying when I tell them things are going well with our publication. They read the web stories about the death of print and they assume print publications can't exist in the new era of web advertising, social media, etc.
That just isn't the case, as many of my colleagues will tell you from around the country, especially for niche publications.
But the environment has certainly changed. The web, especially, has brought about new competition in the marketplace. Publishers need to be flexible, agile and willing to diversify to succeed. We're certainly not alone. The growth of the Internet has changed the playing field in numerous industries. Here are just a few:
-Travel. Remember a day when travel agents booked airline tickets and took a commission to do so. Not anymore. The travel agent our company used to use is now out of business, as is many of its cohorts.
-Insurance. Why use a neighborhood agent when you can use an online agent or company for a discounted price.
-Books. amazon.com--enough said. Have you been to your local, independent book store lately? Didn't think so.
-Couriers. Remember when you actually needed a human being to send a letter across town in 30 minutes. Now, with email, it's about three seconds.
These are just a few that come to mind. Each industry has to adapt and find a way to become successful in this new environment. It's really nothing new. Challenges are part of running a successful business. And really, what fun would it be without some challenges.
--Ron Ameln, SBM