If you have been blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, then you are no stranger to hard work or commitment. But a great idea and a strong work ethic alone are not sufficient to grow your business. Today your customers have virtually unlimited options that are only a click away, so competing on price alone will not be enough to fuel growth. In fact, the historically tried and true four P's of marketing (Product, Price, Place & Promotion) are all being challenged by a simple winning formula--add value first.
What is your gift to the world? What is the one thing your company is willing to give away that both provides value to your customers and illustrates your company's value? If you're Google, that would include everything from Android (its mobile phone operating system) to Gmail. Google's market cap is almost $400 billion dollars, and the majority of its customers have never paid Google a dime. Same goes for Facebook. These companies figured out how to give value to the world in exchange for data (which they subsequently sell to advertisers interested in connecting with you).
But what if you're not in the advertising and data business? What if you sell physical goods? You need look no further than five-time Inc 5000 honoree, MyCaseBuilder.com who discovered that by giving away its award winning custom foam software, it could provide its customers the perfect fit for anything they want to protect inside of their case.
What if you're a restaurant? What could you give away in order to grow? Some restaurants will give away a free drink or appetizer, but soon discover that this becomes almost "expected" and doesn't really facilitate growth. Instead, some family-owned restaurants have started randomly giving out entire meals for free with a simple note of appreciation for their customer's patronage. This kind of surprise-and-delight is guaranteed to generate buzz and is ultimately better than any traditional (read "interrupt and talk at you") advertising.
According to Deepak Chopra in his bestselling book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, "How can I help?" is the only question that truly matters. Each and every one of us has a unique talent that no one else has and a special way of expressing that talent. This is Spiritual Law #7--The Law of Dharma.
When thinking about how best to accelerate the growth of your company, start with asking yourself, "How can I help?" Don't think small. Think about what you were born to do; work like hell to remove any and all roadblocks in front of you; live your purpose and allow your reason-for-being to fuel your growth--both professionally and personally.
As a digital marketing agency, we are constantly asking our clients "How can I help?" Their answer is not always what you'd think. Most companies have not spent enough time developing and optimizing the effectiveness of their website, social and mobile marketing efforts, but if you start a conversation with "Your website sucks", you have missed an opportunity to participate in active listening.
Assume nothing. Even if you know what your customer's problem is, there is no harm in asking them to define their challenges so that you have a clear picture of what your customer's needs are. Then, by following up with the simple question, "How can I help?" you will immediately understand why your customer is engaging with you, what their expectations are and how you may be of service.
In the past 20 years of meeting with a diverse set of clients with every possible marketing need you could imagine, it has become crystal clear to me that asking the right questions is a much more effective strategy than trying to demonstrate why you're the right person with whom to do business.
Once your client has illustrated a clear problem where you, your company or your product can be of service, the next most important step is to find a way to add value first. Connect the identified problem with your passion and purpose and you will never lack for opportunity and growth. Help as many people as you are capable of assisting every day and you will be unstoppable.
And please don't forget to do this for the people sitting right next to you. In most companies, it's your team that is the real engine behind your growth and ultimate success. If you have any shot at exponentially growing your company, you first need to align your purpose and passion with your team. Inspiring your own team and culture is your first priority before you can ever make a real impact with your customers, your industry and the world.
So, stop reading this article, turn to your coworker and ask them, "How can I help you?" Once they recover from their initial shock of being asked (and size you up to see if you're actually serious), you will be amazed at what you learn.
In short, listen deeply, ask great questions (which demonstrate you are listening), soul search for all the ways you can give value first--and then do it. Your heartfelt actions will spur all kinds of new and interesting growth opportunities.