Monday, April 12, 2010

Sell an Experience, Not a Product

I was captivated by an article that I read this morning featuring Ford CEO Alan Mulally. When Mulally took over the reigns at Ford, the company was at the edge of the cliff along with the other US automakers, peering down the well of bankruptcy. Unlike his competition who leaped into bed with the government (which is kind of like taking money from the mob), Mulally insisted on making Ford great again.

Let's take a look at a few things that allowed Ford's stock to rise 700% over the last couple of years:

1. Be cool. Many businesses sell products that they like, not necessarily what the customer likes. Ford recognized a need for technology and sleekness. By using sync technology, they effectively created a 4000 lb. smart phone and the unique experience that goes along with it.

The same can be said for colleges who listen to their customers (students). Many institutions seek to please their unions and faculty first, and then let the students know what they will be left with. Kaplan University has a great ad campaign where they reassure you that you can learn at your pace, using your preferred method of learning, and will even actively work at placing you in a job in your preferred field. Why? That is what their clients demanded!

2. Streamline. Ford had 97 models when Mulally took over. Now they have 20. Don't try to be a "Jack of all trades and a master of nothing." Work on doing something exceptionally well and you will stand out. When I started my speaking career, I also owned a vacuum cleaner business, a janitorial company, a health chef business, and was a speaker. I thought that people would be impressed at the diversity of my interests. Instead I found myself having a hard time focusing on 4 completely unrelated ventures. When I placed 100% of my focus on helping people via delivering meaningful messages of motivation, and business took off. What can you lose in your business?

3. Ditch the naysayers. The board at Ford was stuck in their ways when it came to integrating technology into their vehicles. You cannot ignore the importance of constantly refining and researching unique features and benefits to owning your product. They fired the board and replaced them with people who were a bit more open minded. Who do you bounce ideas off of when it comes to your business? Your parents, your cousin Eddie, and people who don't know a thing about your business?

I would encourage everyone to be a part of a mastermind group. This collaborative group allows you to share ideas and help each other out. You won't always like what your partners will say, but you will love the result!

As you begin your day today, ask yourself, "How can we create a great experience?"

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