Everybody makes mistakes, even seemingly infallible business
behemoths. The problem is, when said industry Goliaths’ trip, the ground shakes
for miles around. It’s not that mistakes and failure are things to be feared –
in fact, if it happens in measured amounts, failure can be an important
stepping stone to success. But modern businesses tend to make common mistakes
over and over, indicating that many leadership and management teams learn
nothing no matter how often they trip over the same point. Following are five
of the biggest mistakes that today’s corporate brands make – and why it’s best
to avoid stumbling over them.
Failure to create or communicate value: Businesses often conceive great ideas and great products – but
then they pitch them to the completely wrong audience, or they don’t tell the
existing audience why they need said product. In the ‘80s, for example, Coke
brought out “New Coke,” and then failed to communicate why New Coke
was a necessary upgrade over the old formula (the fact New Coke didn’t taste as
good didn’t help the company’s case, either). When businesses innovate, they
need to sell their new direction to the consumer. We had online retailers
before Amazon, but Amazon made sure to tout their online shopping venue as
safe, unified, and easy to navigate – exactly what shoppers wanted, even
though they didn’t know it until that moment.
Inability to achieve or convey singularity: If the public perceives your idea or product as “more of the
same,” it’s going to be very hard to get them to gravitate towards it.
People are creatures of habit, and they tend to stick to the brands they know
and like. If a business can’t “wow” people with enough force to nudge
them out of their comfortable rut, then there’s less of a chance the product or
idea they’re trying to sell will get the attention it needs to survive.
Asking for the ‘get’ without ‘giving’ first: Some businesses don’t realize that they’re essentially in a
relationship, and in any healthy relationship, there’s give and get. Everybody
that a business deals with is a potential customer, even if the sale isn’t
immediate. That’s why businesses have to present something of value – and they
need to value and respect customers’ time as well. If a business asks for a
consumer’s time and offers nothing of value (like a helpful item or the
solution to a problem) in return, then it’s wasted that consumer’s time – and
comes at a steep cost.
When confronted with failure, they do more of
the same, only more “efficiently”: When a business notices that people aren’t buying the latest idea
or gadget, it usually just starts to yell louder. When that doesn’t work, it
decides, “We’re going to keep on making this product – but we’re just
going to cut costs and do it cheaper. That way, we can squeeze more out of each
one that comes down the assembly line.” The trouble is, doing more of the
same thing isn’t what breaks you out of a rut. And while spending more on
marketing can admittedly bring in more consumers, it’s very costly and
Businesses tend to latch on to past successes, which makes some
sense: After all, if an idea worked well in the past, it should work again.
Unfortunately, what’s impressive today is old news by tomorrow. Companies need
to learn from past mistakes to keep moving forward and innovating. That’s not
to say past ideas that worked well should be abandoned entirely, but a business
needs to constantly ask, “How can we improve this idea? What worked last
time? What didn’t?”
Trying to please everyone instead of picking
an audience, understanding it, listening to its feedback and attempting to blow
its mind: With the Internet and social media,
there’s more noise than ever, and everybody’s a critic – and that’s not a bad
thing. Businesses just need to decide who they’re going to listen to, since
it’s impossible to make everybody happy all the time. Businesses need to pick
an audience, and it needs to understand that audience. They needs to listen
closely to its problems, sympathize with its pain points, open dialogue with
said group of individuals, and then offer specialized solutions that will blow
that audience’s mind. After all, as the old moral states, if you try and please
everyone, you may as well please no one at all.
speaker Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and
innovation, and the author of Make Change Work
for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed
Despite Uncertainty. Among today’s leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops
and seminars for Fortune 500 firms,
his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.