A reporter came to interview Mahatma Gandhi one day. It turned out this was his day of silent fasting, but the reporter still insisted on getting Gandhi’s message to the world. Ghandi wrote: My Life Is My Message. In a business world where many hours and dollars are often spent crafting that perfect positioning statement and marketing message, based on what research and our instincts tell us customers will gobble up, it’s worth remembering Gandhi’s words.
The message that really matters, the one that will really bring in customers, and keep them coming back, comes from them experiencing that you met or exceeded their expectations in every way that matters to them, and that they expect you’ll do so next time. That message doesn’t appear in any advertisement or promotional piece, but rather in the way your business does its business, every day, in every way.
Think about it. For any business, word of mouth marketing is the most powerful vehicle for attracting new customers, and that only happens if your customers leave satisfied. And of course that’s how you retain your customers as well. That may seem obvious, but what’s not (and what Gandhi teaches us), is that the message that really matters, that will really satisfy customers — in whatever unique way you choose — needs to permeate every corner of your business.
What does this have to do with business planning? Well, as you plan the future of your business (be it an old one or new one), remember that your message is only as good as the daily life of the business that backs it up. Or, to draw from Gandhi’s words, that is your message.
Now don’t throw away all our marketing materials you worked so hard on. Gandhi didn’t have to worry about things like brand management and search engine optimization — but he did understand that your message is not just a bunch of words, but rather how your business does things every day.
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