I asked a prospective client the other day: “How do you know when you’ll have won?” He had been talking to me about his company, its history and challenges. When I asked the question I could see a shift in his demeanor. He perked up, inched closer to the edge of his chair, and turned his eyes towards the ceiling pensively. After a few seconds he looked back at me and said: “I really don’t know. I never thought of it.”
How do you define what a win looks like? Most business owners/leaders say more clients and more money. For simplicity sake, let’s call it the “more” principle. Seems like the most obvious benchmark for success. But that’s the point, actually. The “more” principle is so obvious that it’s entirely unoriginal and, as a predictor of success, not really all that helpful. Companies that define their business using the “more” principle rarely get to where they’re trying to go. It’s because “more” is really not an end. It’s an abstract idea that keeps you chasing after a finish line that keeps pulling further away.
In response to the want for “more”, some just start doing more stuff: more strategies, more ads, more tactics, etc. They’re hoping that something, anything, will win them “more”. They figure if they run around in a forest long enough, they’re bound to hit a tree. Problem is that you’re just as likely to get lost. Some are seduced by the temptation to be more like someone else, to get more of what THEY have (see Apple vs. Windows retail stores for reference). As companies sink into the dark abyss of “more”, their clients slowly drift from sight. That’s to be expected; as you stray further from your center, so do they: “I just don’t know who you are anymore.”
A consumer’s love affair with that which is distinctly you is relative to how much of you there is in what you do. (Naturally they have to find value in you otherwise there’s no pretext for a relationship.) If you want to increase the probability of a win, get to know that one thing that makes you unequivocally you; that one thing that everybody wants to be connected to through your company. You get that and, more often than not, you’ll get the win. Not the “more” win (that’s a fallacy), but the win that comes from turning clients and strangers from a commodity into a loyal community.