Business marketing guru Doug Hall wastes no time catching the attention of an audience when he kicks it all off by saying his talk will be about "how to sell more shit to more people for more money."
Now if that won't make any business executive or manager of any size or type of business sit up and listen hard, nothing will.
That also woke up attendees at the seventh annual Outdoor Industry Association's Rendezvous event in Scottsdale, Arizona, last weekend. Keynote speaker Hall, founder of the business-building facility called Eureka! Ranch and consultant to everyone from AT&T and Mattel to tiny mom-and-pop businesses, started with a bang, kept the audience chuckling, and never fell into ho-hum clichés. He also discussed his trek to the North Pole -- and sported an advanced Polar Heart Rate Monitor on his wrist.
Along the way, he discussed his laws for thinking smarter and for becoming a more successful business -- and left everyone inspired to go back to the office and re-design business cards or re-write marketing plans.
"Small changes, big changes, they are a pain in the ass to do," Hall said. "The kinds of changes you have to do are not for wimps. But it's also about following your dream."
No matter how much passion you have as a business owner, sometimes it takes a kick in the pants or a whack over the head to think clearly about what builds business. Hall's six laws of success summarize what he calls the basics.
- Overt Benefits -- Be clear about the benefits of every product's feature. Tell the customer in the simplest of terms what a button, strap, type of material, or pocket is for. Think about every customer being a newbie, not a zealot. "You got the zealots, the enthusiasts, who can hear the features and know what it means," he said. "The masses don't get it. And you got to serve those who don't get it." If they understand what the benefit of a feature is, they won't just go for the lowest price." Be overt, is Hall's theme song. "Confusion is not a good strategy for success. You get all involved in the cleverness, and you're confusing the hell out of people." As an example, Hall had everybody look at his or her business cards. Would it be clear from somebody who didn't know you or your business what the benefit of your company is or, for that matter, what it even does? "Never let a customer say 'no' because they don't understand what you offer."
- Reason to Believe -- Benefits are the promises you as a company make. The "Reason to Believe" (RTB) is how you are going to deliver on those promises. Benefits (what) x RTB (how) = Success, Hall says. What do you say to a customer directly or indirectly that makes them want to trust you, be it the way you treat them on the phone, the way the front of your store looks, or what a brochure says.
- Dramatic Difference -- What makes your company or product or service different? And not just a little different, but dramatically different? Is the first, the only, the best? "The money is in uniqueness," he said. "Create something nobody else has. Create a monopoly. Otherwise, all you have is a commodity and that's Walmart." But making that difference dramatic isn't easy. If you or someone else says it can't be done, ask why not, then go do it. If something is harder to execute, he says, it will likely make more of a difference.
Once you have those three down, then think about:
- Exploring Stimulus -- Use your brain like a computer, he says. Feed something in -- some kind of stimulus like sounds, sights or information -- then let ideas come out. Brainstorming, he says, when you sit in a room somewhere without stimuli is just brain-sucking. And, he says, think innocently, as if you are not that zealot yourself. Avoid being "mentally constipated."
- Leveraging Diversity -- Diversity is not just about age, gender or race, but about types of people -- people you might think are "nincompoops or kooks," people you might normally laugh at. "Diversity is a business-building tool," he says. "It's easy to just keep singing to the choir."
- Minimizing Fear -- Sound frightening? Good, but get over it. Woulda, coulda, shoulda won't do much good, he says.
Remember, Hall pointed out to the audience when he was nearly done, what Einstein once said: "If at first the idea is not absurd, there is no hope."
SNEWS®View: Everyone was taken by Hall's presentation, especially as a kickoff to two days of seminars where the goal was to get inspired and to go build better businesses. Boy, did he do that! No. 1: New business cards so when we give one to someone who doesn't know what the hell SNEWS® is, they won't go home afterwards, shovel through a stack of cards and wonder what that SNEWS® thing was, and throw it away. We challenge you to do the same. It's obvious that Hall has leveraged his kook-ism to bring in buckets of money, but he's also offered a -- here we go again! -- Reason to Believe in him, not only because of the examples he gave of his own work, but also because of his North Pole expedition and the training he did for it. And he was sincere, or certainly sounded it, about helping the little guy -- often for free. He has been called the "corporate Robin Hood" because of his habit of consulting with the big guys (Mattel, PepsiCo, AT&T, and the like) then giving stuff away to the little guys. We all were given his book, "Jumpstart Your Business Brain," and we can't wait to read it. And we'll be taking a gander to his web site, www.EurekaRanch.com, to see what else we can learn. No matter what industry you are from, what kind of product or service you offer, we suggest you discard any disdain for the "nincompoops," for those outside your world. If you can't think like a non-zealot, then hire somebody who can or even is. The only way any industry, including outdoor or fitness, will grow is to discover those who aren't zealots, show them and tell them why they should care, and bring them into the fold.