Investor and author Guy Kawasaki says the business world needs more charm. Here's his 10-step formula to enchant customers--and build a great big company.
If you want your company to be the next Apple, Zappos, or Virgin, take a page from their playbooks: Enchant your customers.
To do that, Guy Kawasaki, the investor, author, and former Apple "chief evangelist," boiled down a modern entrepreneur's goals at the Inc. 500|5000 in Phoenix on Friday like this: "You want the quality of Apple, the trustworthiness of Zappos, and the likeability of Richard Branson."
In his book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, and in his speech, Kawasaki outlined the path to "enchantment" in 10 steps.
Here they are:
1. Be Likeable
It's simple. You cannot achieve anything if people do not like you. When Kawasaki met Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, Branson asked Kawasaki if he flew Virgin. "When I said that I was a United Global Services member, he got down on his knees and started polishing my shoes with his jacket. This is the moment I started flying Virgin," Kawasaki said.
2. Be Trustworthy
"You can like Charlie Sheen--that doesn't mean you trust Charlie Sheen," Kawasaki said. Trust is never a given, so your company needs to be proactive and project an air of trust, he added. One easy way to extend the first hand of trust to your customers is by giving them something, with no strings attached. As an example, Zappos gives customers unlimited free shipping both ways.
3. Perfect Your Product or Service
It's a lot easier to enchant people with great stuff than crap. "I have tried it both ways," says Kawasaki. So how can you tell if your product or service is 'great stuff?' It's great, says Kawasaki, if it's "deep, intelligent, complete, empowering, and elegant."
4. Tell a Great Story
Your company needs an origin story. Look no further than eBay, with its founding story of Pierre Omidyar wanting to enrich his girlfriend's ability to trade Pez dispensers (her alleged hobby). It's a cute story, but a "total bullshit story," Kawasaki chides. "But you need a story."
5. Overcome Resistance
Kawasaki says it might be tough to get a parent to buy a kid a shoot-em-up game. But what about a game that's marketed as an educational toy? Sure, parents will buy that. Other ways to overcome resistance: show social proof--your friends are doing it!--or providing data as evidence.
6. Make Your Enchantment Enduring
At Grateful Dead concerts, there was a special area for show taping. The band wasn't worried about piracy; they wanted the concert to endure over time. How can you apply this to your business? Invoke reciprocation at every chance you get. When someone says "thank you," the optimal response isn't "you're welcome," Kawasaki says. It's "I know you would do the same for me."
7. Be a Great Presenter
When speaking to a group, customize the introduction to your audience. Kawasaki does this by showing an intro slide of him doing something the local people--be it in Edinburgh or Istanbul--can relate to, like eating haggis or trying on a fez at a bazaar. Keep your presentation short. Kawasaki says the optimal formula for a presentation is 20 minutes and 10 slides, using 30-point font.
8. Use Technology
"It's a great time to enchant people with technology, because technology is fast, free, and ubiquitous," Kawasaki says. But there will always be speed bumps when new technology is involved. (Think: An indecipherable captcha screen.) Get rid of it, or risk losing customers.
9. Enchant Up
How do you impress your boss? "When your boss asks you to do something, you drop everything else, and do it," says Kawasaki. If it's a big project, you should drop everything and make a prototype--fast. Draft an early rendering, and ask your boss if that's what she's looking for.
10. Enchant Down
If you're the boss, you need to not only enchant your customers, but also your employees. One easy way: "Show that you are willing to suck it up," Kawasaki says. Bottom line: Get your hands dirty.
CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is senior writer at Inc. @Lagorio