As part of our WebDesign.com Strategic Plan for 2010, I shared these underlying values that define and guide me as leader of our team. These are ingrained into my personal DNA and what I want instilled in our team.
I detailed these so that our team would understand why and how I lead our business in certain directions so they can get on board with me. Of course they aren’t all my personal or business values but the big ones that should help them (and maybe you) better understand the Strategic Plan, which I’ll share some of that in the coming days.
By the way, I don’t take credit for every concept detailed here by any means. I’m a product of every blog post, book, and personal experience with others. If I took time to chase every dog-eared book and memory, you’d never get this post.
So here goes …. my core business philosophies and defining values ….
- We have the talent to set the bar of innovation in our core products.
- We must be first. Being first, without compromising quality, is always best.
- We must be fast.
- This means launching products fast and not letting them collect dust, or unnecessarily adding feature bulk.
- Despite our best efforts to understand our customer, we are NOT our customers. We make tools and training for them. They are the ones using our products day-to-day.
- Thus, we can’t adequately evaluate a product until it’s in the customer’s hands.
- Perfection is a pipe dream. Our ‘good enough’ is often our customer’s standard of excellence.
- Release a ‘good’ product … and make it better fast with customer input and experience.
- Shelved products are trophies of our talent, but dead weight for our business. They weigh us down because they suck time without delivering value for our customers and ultimately our bottomline.
- Beware of chasing innovation solely for the chase. Just because you can build something cool doesn’t mean you should spend time chasing it. That’s called self-glory and defeats the purpose of our team concept.
- Always weigh cost versus benefit. What do our ‘ideal customers’ say about it. What do our ‘haters’ say about it. Figure out what each persona represents and weigh it carefully. Just because a small minority want a certain feature doesn’t mean we should chase it.
- Everything costs. Every single action costs us money. Be wise stewards of your time and talent.
- We should regularly eat our own dog food. We should use our products, or find another line of work, or go to work for the companies who build the products we love. If we don’t like our own products, then we should build better ones we will utlimately love.
- Think of every innovation in stages. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Release, refine/improve. Repeat this over and over.
- We are guerrilla marketers at the core. We will always have more time than money. We should leverage every cheap, personal resource we have to build fans, and share our products with the world.
- Guerrilla marketing is aggressive, fast, responsive, almost impulsive, and with consistency, it builds momentum and results in tidal waves.
- I built my blog success and business success on employing guerrilla marketing tactics. I believe in it. I’ve done it. We will use it. We don’t have the resources of Fortune 500 companies, but we do have a great team that together can employ awesome guerrilla marketing tactics to win fans and build our business.
- Guerrilla marketing uses human resources to make the biggest impact.
- This means every team member has talent and/or time to share in our marketing efforts (the most common examples is writing a blog post that answers customers questions)
- Every team member must be equipped and empowered to use guerrilla marketing tactics
- Beside awesome products, free content is the best guerrilla marketing resource we have at our disposal.
- We should use every medium possible (Blog, eBooks, Audio / Videos – webinars, teleseminars, etc, Live shows, Social media)
- … as long as it’s affordable and effective!
- The best marketing ‘attraction strategy’ is … text content.
- This applies to most if not all free online content but in particular text content ….
- Text content has the highest rate of return … it’s gold … we write it once and the return is near infinite as it’s online and searchable.
- Text content is searchable forever … the more text content we have the more traffic, links and long tail benefit we will reap. It builds and multiplies on itself. The more content we have the more search engine benefit we reap through PageRank, etc …. the more links, return traffic, subscriptions we get as a result.
- Text content demonstrates our expertise and experience — great, practical content shows our customers and prospects that we know what we’re talking about and that we are ground zero for their solutions.
- Text content is linkable …. we should build content that solves common problems and link to it when our customers ask
- Regular product launches and announcements tell our customers that we are alive and well and working hard to solve their problems with our products!
- Educational marketing is a core value of our marketing — we must teach and train through our work. It shows expertise, lessens customer disappointment in our products, and build fans
- I want to surround myself with awesome, fun, passionate, productive, talented, self-motivated people committed to each other and the business. You are here because we believe you fit that definition.
- The team concept means that we can achieve much more together than apart. Although each of you are awesome and amazing in your own niche …. there is no stage here for rockstars seeking their own glory.
- In fact, a small, tight, passionate and talented group of people, working together toward a unified goal, can achieve greatness.
- I want what we do together to be great. Memorable. Long-lasting. Fun.
- We are a small team and must be pitch in and help each other at various times.
- No one is above taking out the trash. Including me.
- As a small team, everyone must carry their own weight. Seek to provide value …. every day … to your teammates and the business.
- We value initiative over talent. But must always work to increase our value and skill to the team.
- We must always be learning and growing individually and collectively. We have never arrived. There is always some new and exciting to learn that help us and what we do.
- Each person learns differently. Present a good case for whatever opportunity helps you learn best and that will ultimately help you, help us …. and we’ll work hard to make it happen.
- We also communicate very differently. As such, we must learn to adapt to communicate more efficiently with each other — this means being gracious and patient. Cool heads always prevail.
- We must always refine and improve our processes — both personally and as a team. Everything is a system with a process. Make it work better for you and the team. Streamline it. Contribute constructive feedback when possible.
- Work smarter, not harder
- Own the solution. Own the problem. You are the solution. Don’t be the problem. This means take initiative for your work and when practical, things not even “your job.” If you have the urge to gripe, this means you also have the capacity to contribute a solution and implement it … yourself.
- Delegating problems and frustration is not tolerated.
- Present solutions when possible … and offer to assist personally in their implementation. Actions speak louder than words.
- The Golden Rule applies in almost every situation. Practice it.
- I fundamentally, absolutely, unapologetically believe that our team — working together with these philosophies and principles — can do great things together.
- And as such, in the right time and place, we want to be gracious, generous yet realistic with the rewards that come through it.
- This means that those who put in the time and energy to help us, as a team, get to where we need to be will be appropriately rewarded.
- Our unofficial motto is: “All things subject to change.” We laugh about it, but it’s true.
- In this economy, and most specifically because we are a “tech” company, we must be nimble, adaptable, flexibile, responsive. Yes, I tried to say that as many different times as I could while ultimately sharing the same concept: Be flexible.
- Do some research on the statistics on small business failure. Or just ask a small business owner how hard it is.
- The companies that don’t adapt will die. Ask Yahoo about Google. Ask the entire newspaper industry about the Web. Ask the music industry about iTunes.
- We want to provide long-term security and sustainability for you and your family and our team.
- Principles and values don’t change. We believe in doing things the right way. But strategies, vision and tactics can and will change.
- We have not arrived. We still make plenty of mistakes. We must adapt and learn and grow from our mistakes and use it for a better tomorrow.
- This means everything is a test. We are testing theories every day. Theories that certain products will take off. Theories that the prices we set give maximum benefit for customers and allow us to be sustainable.
- Our customers pay our salaries. They keep the lights on and allow us to do what we love every day. Without our customers we don’t have a business.
- Our customers also drive us nuts and frustrate us at times.
- We must treat our customers like a community that we’ve been privileged to lead.
- We should listen to them. We should listen and weigh their feedback and input to improve what we do and provide them.
- We must be good listeners. Customers will tell us what they don’t like and do like. Listen, weigh the cost/benefit and practical reality of their request and decide to pursue and/or implement.
- Use customer service to make fans — if we provide excellent customer service, they will speak well of us and be satisified …. we must balance the line between getting taken advantage of and finding wins for our customers.
- Often, this is about expectations. We must be clear in what we offer and do. Dissatisfied customers are produced from unmet expectations. We must seek to clarify expectations.
- Our products are solutions to our customer’s problems.
- We must find ways to interact with them, get to know them and their unique situation and experiences and ultimately find better ways to serve them.
- We must find ways to turn customers into fans. If we do that consistently, we’ll have a vibrant, growing business into the future.
- We should seek to build a loyal group of happy customers who become marketing evangelists for us
- We should be personal and approachable as much as possible.
- Our best customers follow everything we do. We must cultivate that trust, loyalty and interest with value and personableness.
- Embrace the best fits, tip those on the fence to our side, but know that some may not fit what we do or offer. That’s OK … we readily admit we’re not for everyone. We need to concentrate our limited time and energy on those who fit what we do and vice versa.
- If we’re not the best fit for them, let’s not waste each other’s time. Find a way to release them and us.
- We must always teach and train our customers. Find ways to leverage our time and skill for the maximum benefit of the majority of our customers. This means producing tutorials on frequently asked questions, doing regular training webinars and solving problems in mass. We do group support and thus should offer group training.
- Ronald’s quote applies here: “”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
P.S. — I was inspired to write our Strategic Plan, and this resulting work, based on this awesome post at Church of the Customer blog. It proved to be a great framework that helped me clarify and communicate where I will be leading our team in 2010. Rock on!