Most professional athletes will tell you that their success didn’t just happen: they had to have a great coach. It was not a solo effort. They needed someone outside of themselves to clearly see the issues: to point them out and to come up with viable solutions to overcome them.
What is more, they didn’t just fire their coach once they had achieved a gold medal. In fact, they and their coach now had to work harder just to maintain their ranking.
In business it is the same: every business needs someone outside of the company to be able see the real issues. We can never see the woods for the trees – i.e. we are too close to the problem to notice it. Our business coach should not just be able to point the issues out, but also be able to come up with viable solutions to overcome them.
However, in business we all assume that once we have our business/brand/marketing sorted out (i.e. we are making sales and have built our marketing collateral – e.g. website, brochure, catalogue, etc.) then we can now ‘fire’ our coach. But what happens if once we are fit, we stop exercising? All the hard work that went in to getting fit goes to waste – true?
It is the same with our business. We initially work hard to build a brand and a clientele, but once we have a certain level of business, we now concentrate on ‘taking care of our clients’ and forget to ‘take care of our business’ – i.e. the branding, communications and marketing that will secure future business and keep us ahead of our competition.
If a business is not growing, it is dying. This is because there will always be a certain amount of natural attrition in our client base – i.e. clients leaving through no fault of our own: e.g. they die, go out of business or simply move too far away for us to deal with them effectively.
This is why we need to constantly have two primary objectives running: getting new business and servicing existing clients. We can never take our eyes off the ball – both balls! If we do, we will drop the ball: either the marketing ball or the client service ball.
A number of years ago I worked with a major global brand in the industrial electrical engineering sector. The company had spent around $10 million over 20 years building their brand in New Zealand and were the recognised leaders in their field. It was easy for them to secure new work as they were always approached to quote on any and all major projects in New Zealand.
They then changed their management and promoted the CFO to be the CEO. The first thing he did was ‘save the company money’ by cutting their marketing budget to zero. 5 years later they came to me for help.
I saw the issue and asked the accountant this question: “If you had a building worth $10 million, what would it cost you to maintain it?” He quickly responded, “10% per year.”
I then asked, “And if this maintenance had not been done, and now the building was in ruins, should the person responsible be fired?” He again jumped in, “For a $10 million building? Absolutely!”
I then asked, knowing what the answer was, "So who decided to stop maintaining the $10 million brand the company had 5 years ago?" He turned very pale. He then allocated enough money to rebuild their brand over the next 24 months – but it cost four times what it would have if he had just continued to maintain it.
It is obvious when we talk about the need to constantly maintain our fitness or physical assets, but we forget that our brand and marketing is one of our business’ primary assets. Without it our business soon succumbs to the ravages of time: we go from being ‘top of mind’ to being all but forgotten. Every sale we make gets harder and soon there are new companies nipping at our heels and threatening our core business.
If overall it is costing us less than 10% of our turnover to simply maintain, not build, our brand (including all marketing and promotions), then we are doing very well.
If our coach is constantly challenging us to do better, do more or reach for higher goals, then don’t fire them! Work with them to do better, do more and to reach for higher goals – remember, if a business is not growing, it is dying!
If you don’t have a coach, then find one – quickly! Without a good coach we cannot hope to become competitive – and certainly we will never come first.
Often, when I am talking about this, someone will point out that a true coach invests in the athlete. I agree, and point out that the coach also has an equity shareholding in the athlete’s current and future income. What is more, we also put this same offer to potential clients if they feel that having a high quality business and marketing consultant onboard fulltime is too much for them.
So don’t let your budget, or lack of budget, hold your business back – call us today.
Terrence Bull has over 30 years of marketing and advertising consulting experience on a global scale. You can read more insights from Terrence at: Dream: Profound Insights For Creating Business Success