Are you looking to build an exceptional business? From the book “What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business” by Harry Beckwith, here is a checklist of questions you need to ask from conceptualizing your business to servicing your customers.
- What really matters to us?
- Where do we want to be in five years?
- Never mind what we have done or others have done: What is possible?
- What would clients think was remarkable?
- If we were starting from scratch today, what would we do differently?
- If we were competing against us, where would we attack us?
Adding Deeper Insight
- Which 10 or 12 clients, friends, industry insiders or other individuals can give us the most insight about improving our business?
Getting to the White Hot Center
- Who makes up the White Hot Center of our industry?
- Which members do we have contact with? Which do we not?
- What should we do to increase our influence with these people?
Getting the Key Clients
- What 3-4 prospective and acquirable clients would have the most long-term impact on our business – as uniquely strong references?
- How can we begin to convert them into clients?
Attacking our Industry’s Weakness
- What is the greatest flaw in our industry, in the perception of prospects and clients?
- What stereotype do outsiders have of people in our business?
- Is our brand unique?
- Is it vivid?
- Is it simple?
- Does it communicate a clear and powerful message, in the way we most want and need to communicate?
- Is it inviting?
- Is our name distinctive?
- Is it memorable?
- Is it brief enough to be processed and remembered?
- Does it express or imply an important message?
- Does the value and equity of our current name outweigh the value of changing it to a more powerful and useful name?
- Can it be pronounced easily, even musically?
- Will most people have to ask how to spell it? If so, can you easily explain how to spell it?
- Is it short?
- Does it have the unique traits to make it memorable – is it unique, sensory, and outstanding?
- Is it interesting? Does it have “story value”?
- Is it authentic? Is it who we really are?
- Can our employees say the name proudly?
- Does it set the right tone?
- Is it different enough from competitors’ names?
- Is it acceptable to virtually every important prospect?
- Does it make some people uneasy?
- Is it rich with meaning? Does it imply more than one positive message?
- What does our price communicate about the value of our work?
- Is our pricing absolutely clear?
- Is it so simple a prospect understands it immediately?
Our Package: The Visual Audit
Look at every point where our prospects come into contact with us – from business cards and signage to attire and envelopes:
- Does each contact make a strong impression?
- Does each say, “This firm is special”?
- Does each contact clearly convey a sense of quality and professionalism?
- Are the messages at each point consistent with each other?
- Are our messages brief and to the point?
- Does every word count – or are there unnecessary and wasted words?
- Do we immediately convey our point of difference?
- Do we clearly and convincingly communicate the distinctive benefit of working with us?
- Do we provide strong proof for each of our claims?
- If the person never reads of a word of the message, does the communication still convey a sense of quality?
- Does the reader feel engaged by the copy? Does it speak to him and his wants and needs – or do we talk too much about ourselves?
- Do our images, by themselves, convey an unmistakable sense of quality and professionalism?
- Is each slide necessary? Does each one deliver its message better than words alone can?
- Are slides kept to a minimum, so that our audience will focus on our people rather than on our slides?
- Does each image convey no more than three succinct points?
- Can any point be made in half as many words?
- Are the images interesting yet appropriate?
- Are the words engaging and interesting?
- Is our presentation about the client and his needs – or is it about us?
- Is the presentation compelling without being immodest?
- Is our presentation human, warm, inviting and personal? Are there moments where it is too institutional?
- Are our testimonials powerful and believable?
- Do we use stories to make our message clearer and more interesting?
- Are 20 percent of our clients thrilled with us?
- Are all but 10 percent of our clients very pleased with us, and what do we do for them?
- Is our receptionist warm, welcoming and optimistic?
- Do we return calls or follow-up on contacts in near real time?
- Do we follow-up every contact with a prospect or client within 24 hours?
- Do we have a regular and closely followed program for thanking clients and prospects at least once a year?
- Are we doing something special for our loyal clients at least once a year?
- Do each of our special clients clearly know they are special to us?
- When we make a promise to a client, do we make sure to put it in writing so we will know what we have promised and what to do – and they will know exactly what to expect from us, and when?
Recommended Books on How to Build an Exceptional Business:
- What the Best CEOs Know: 7 Exceptional Leaders and Their Lessons for Transforming Any Business
- Marketbusters: 40 Strategic Moves That Drive Exceptional Business Growth
- Just Run It! Running an Exceptional Business Is Easier Than You Think
- Think Inside The Box: Discover the exceptional business inside your organization
- The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think
Excerpt from the book What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business by Harry Beckwith (Warner Books, 2003)