Thought Current # 1 – USP-F – Four ingredients to success

This blog concept started when my friend Lois Geller (www.loisgellermarketinggroup.com) suggested the word “current” for our new consulting business.   This simple homonym crystalized things I believe create a successful business.  “Current” means up to date; a pulse of electricity or spark; and a strong flow or direction.

That was it – our blog USP-F!  Up to date thinking, continuously sparking the brand or experience with innovative ideas, understanding the pulse of the customer and a focused business direction.  We will regularly publish some “thought currents” and we would love to know yours too.

Up to Date thinking

Being a continuous beginner is a great way to keep a product, brand or business current.   I was always at my best in developing a brand or business, in the first couple of years when there were fewer filters to prevent something new.   I was more curious and learning rather than knowing and learned.   Now I listen for those filters and evaluate whether they are actually true.
The rapid evolution of concepts, products, distribution channels and technology has made keeping up to date challenging.   I subscribe to great blogs, newsletters or magazines in wide ranging fields of interest to expand my views and spark ideas.
One article I found interesting was “Six radical trends redefining the hotel of the Future” from the World Future Society.   Here’s a link: http://www.wfs.org/blogs/thomas-frey/six-radical-trends-redefining-hotel-future– you might find it thought provoking.

Sparking the brand with innovation

Be remarkable is the lesson of Seth’s Godin’s famous “Purple Cow” book.  I have regularly included this as required reading in business workshops.   It covers two essential themes.  A brand or business has to be remarkable – sparking the interest of guests and differentiating themselves from competitors and being remarkable doesn’t last long.  It is a continuous process.  “Purple Cow” is available at Amazon but I also read Seth’s blog for good spark material http://sethgodin.typepad.com.

Another thing I have learned is that it is often the little things that make something remarkable.   Getting the basics right every time is especially important in businesses geared to stress relief.  Remember spa guests have likely been in a long line at the grocery store with an indifferent cashier, a long line at the bank to fix an error, a flat tire on the way to pick up a grandchild …… well ok that is just my day.

Pulse of the Customer and Competitors

Be a guest – don’t just look at the stats.

A number of years ago we hired a great research company who orchestrated an anonymous on line discussion with guests that I could also listen in on or read transcripts.   It was fascinating and many of the insights shaped the experiences and marketing we developed.
But it doesn’t have to be that complex or costly.   I loved to get in a robe and simply sit in the lounge of one of my spas or my competitors and really listen to the guests’ conversation.  Yes I was an eavesdropper!  Women share everything – how they feel, how they booked, what they ate and generally why they spa.   They thought I was writing in my journal but I was actually taking copious notes and mapping out future programs.
I love being an undercover guest but customer insight comes from a lot of areas.  This week I also read “Six Trends that will shape consumer behavior this year” on Forbes.com.  Here’s the link:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2014/02/04/six-trends-that-will-shape-consumer-behavior-this-year/.  You might find it interesting.

Focused on the business

I have worked with so many leaders who came to the wellness business with a strong sense of purpose or vision.  Many are healers, therapists or trainers who have stepped up to lead or start their own projects and this step up requires a shift in focus and new skills.  I am sure that this is true for many small businesses.

A focused revenue development discipline is the most critical.  Productivity and cost management may be important but they alone won’t guarantee success.  Technology, channel management, social media and digital, mobile, pricing, SEO, customer insight, loyalty programs are key and often overwhelming.  Future blogs will provide some ideas in these areas.

One quick win might be a simple log of how your time is spent over a week.   I have tried this a few times and it surprised me how quickly I got distracted on items that were not a priority or could be delegated.   I ended up shifting more time to revenue and it has paid off every time. Developing a revenue focus starts at the top.

I also have been following Elizabeth Kraus on LinkedIn.   She produces a lot of good short marketing and business tips and she has some beauty and spa experience too.
I am sure you have opinions on the USP-Fs.   I would love to know your thought currents, and please comment below.

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