Small business owners need to know exactly what business they are in. Here’s a story that illustrates exactly what I mean:
Tip O’Neil famously said, “All politics is local.” That was in the Reagan era, when Tip and Ronald Reagan were already old war-horses. Surely it can’t still be a truism in today’s world of social media and online community, a more complex media landscape with so many more options, and a more mobile society, can it?
Today, Congress has the lowest favorable ratings in the polls ever, and the “throw the bums out” fervor is high, yet most incumbents get re-elected. How can that be?
Because everybody else’s Congressman is a bum, but my guy answers my mail, got the money to fix a bridge and build a public swimming pool, kept a military base from getting closed during Pentagon budget cuts, and is at every local parade, county fair, rib cook-off, and is just an all- around good guy.
The personal touch
In the very early stage of the 2012 presidential campaign, a candidate on the Republican side, who appeared to have a chance of at least being competitive in the primaries, suffered an amazing campaign collapse when his entire staff quit on the same day. Lots of candidates fire campaign managers and even entire staffs, but nobody can recall an entire staff firing a candidate.
Their chief reasons: that he was proving utterly undisciplined and refusing to do any of the real work of political campaigning: – calling and speaking to donors personally, getting out to diners and community events, doing living room meetings, pressing the flesh. He believed he could replace all that with new media.
His campaign experts, as young as 30-ish, believed otherwise. One of the most famous masterminds of online and social media for politics, who had advised Howard Dean, and then Barack Obama, commented that all the new media is obviously powerful, but none of it can replace a handshake, a look straight in someone’s eye, a direct answer to a personal question.
We might add to Tip’s admonition that all politics is also personal. In the early presidential primary contests, there are caucuses and straw polls, not just elections. Participation is small, made up mostly of party faithful, passionate activists, and donors.
In many cases, as incredible as it may seem in this age of technology, social media, and proliferate advertising media, the successful candidate will have met every voter in person, some often enough to actually know them by name.
But even in the bigger arena, professional politicians master the making of it all personal.
As a speaker, I appeared on about a dozen seminar events with former President George H. W. Bush # I and wife with Barbara Bush. At the first one, I met and very briefly chatted with President Bush backstage. Well over a month later, I encountered him backstage again, and he asked how my books were doing, how my horse-racing was going, and what I thought about an advertising- related news item of the week,. There was no reason for him to have bothered to remember me at all, let alone remember details of my business and personal activities. I later asked Barbara Bush about it and she explained that
(a) George had trained himself to have an amazing memory for just such information, but
(b) that he also cheated, creating notes about everybody he met, that he could use to freshen memory in advance if he knew he was about to encounter that person again, or refer to in correspondence because
(c) that was actually what a political career and influence was all about,
and with a twinkle in her eye
(d) you just never knew when it would come in handy, soliciting donations for the next son to run for president or some charitable cause.
What business are you really in?
This gets us, long-windedly and circuitously, to the core question, the multi-million dollar question of what business you are really in.
Most businesspeople confuse their deliverables with the business they are in.
If they own a restaurant, they think they are in the food service business or food plus entertainment business, but that’s like George H. Bush thinking he was in the governance business. He knew his deliverable when in office was governance, but his business was list-building, relationship building, influence and fund-raising, all dependent on “‘local'” and “‘personal’.”
A lot of No B.S. Marketers advance from confusing the business they’re in with its deliverables to thinking of themselves as professional marketers in the marketing business. Thus a marketer of a restaurant, or veterinary practice, or whatever, and that is advancement.
But the No B.S. Grassroots Marketer goes another few steps further. He uses marketing and marketing prowess in ways that create one- on- one relationships at the local level, directly if his business is local, or if his business is regional or national, by making each of its offices, stores, or outposts act as a local business.
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From Dan Kennedy, the provocative, truth-telling author of seven popular No B.S. books, thirteen business books total; a serial, successful, multi-millionaire entrepreneur; trusted marketing advisor, consultant and coach to hundreds of private entrepreneurial clients running businesses from $1-million to $1-billion in size; and he influences well over 1-million independent business owners annually through his newsletters, tele-coaching programs, local Chapters and Kennedy Study Groups meeting in over 100 cities, and a network of top niched consultants in nearly 150 different business and industry categories and professions.