The most Important Question You Should Ask About Your Business

You know your business through and through, right? You understand your stakeholders, your products and services, your competitors and your marketplace. When someone asks you what you do, you’ve got that 30-second elevator pitch ready to go.

But do you know the answer to the most important question about your business?

What does your business stand for?

Consumers today have millions of options at their fingertips. The internet, mobile devices and social media have created a world of too many choices, of noise. Standing out as signal among the noise is difficult for any business, large or small.

Those that do stand out likely do so because of their reputation. One offline word-of-mouth impression drives five times more sales than one advertising impression and can drive and as much as 200 times more for high consideration categories according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s 2016 impact study. Peter Storck, a WOMMA board member and SVP of Research at Crowdtap, helped to organized this study. Peter told me,

We’ve known since The Sixties, through academic and industry research, that a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member is the most powerful form of marketing. And in the last two years we’ve learned just how much more powerful it is. In the future, as consumers get bombarded with more and more ads, and as they increasingly use technology to skip, block and avoid those ads, authentic word of mouth, both online and off, is going to become more powerful than ever. All major brands will rely on it.

So what someone says about you to someone else is the key component of the economy we live in today.

And what drives your reputation? What you stand for.

How To Know What You Stand For

The answer to the question is known in strategy circles as your vision statement. I like to think of a vision statement as a one-sentence employee manual and sales pitch all in one. If written well, it tells your employees what’s important and how to behave. It tells prospective customers whether or not they can get on board supporting you.

My vision statement is that I help make the world a more collaborative place by connecting people to opportunities, ideas and other people. I do this by consulting with companies on marketing, sharing expertise and advice to small-business owners and the like. But the focus is about making us all more collaborative.

And therein lies the trick: Vision statements aren’t about you. They’re about your audience. “We aim to sell more recreational vehicles than our competition,” is not a vision statement. That’s a sales goal.

A good vision statement focuses on the world your audience wants to live in, one that you can help create, and hopefully one they will want to help create with you. Can you guess which of these vision statements belongs to PepsiCo, the corporate entity that owns Pepsi, Frito Lay and Tropicana?

a) We create refreshment to improve the lives of families everywhere
b) We continually improve all aspects of the world in which we operate creating a better tomorrow than today
c) We make every day fun

If you guessed B, you would be correct. Some might find that statement vague, but it gives employees a compass and potential corporate partners, clients and even customers some idea of what the company stands for.

The PepsiCo Foundation follows through on the breadth of that promise by supporting grant programs that fund community improvement, funding disaster relief efforts in various places around the world and funneling employee volunteerism. In fact, PepsiCo employees have completed projects around the world that improved and promoted rainwater harvesting, encouraged healthy eating habits in developing countries and supported sustainable agriculture projects.

So how do you know what you stand for? Ask yourself:

1) Why do we do this?
2) Who do we do it for?
3) How does our product or service help people?
4) How does our product or service help the world in general?

Those answers should lead you down a path of defining your point, purpose, vision and what you stand for.

Don’t underestimate the power of developing a sound vision statement. After all, if you can’t answer the big question – Why? – then what the hell are you doing?

If you need help defining your company’s vision statement, feel free to reach out. You can find me at JasonFalls.com or as @JasonFalls on most social networks.

 Jason Falls is the author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media (Que, 2011) and The Rebel’s Guide to email Marketing (Que, 2012) . He is a widely read digital marketing pundit. Jason focuses his personal time helping small businesses with digital marketing through his workshops and content at JasonFalls.com. By day, he leads the Conversation Research Institute and is a strategic adviser for Elasticity, a digital marketing agency.

Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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Need To Focus? Try This One Simple Trick

There are a lot of things I’m pretty bad at. Dating is one of them. Making sure I stay focused and on task is another. But wouldn’t you know it, while out on a date with this awesome woman, I learned something from her that’s gone a long way to keeping me focused and on task.

Now, fair warning, there are a ton of tips out there about how to be better at getting things done. It’s the best kind of clickbait. Who doesn’t want to believe that by adjusting the order in which you do certain tasks or waking up one hour earlier you could quadruple your income or guarantee yourself a date with Ryan Reynolds?

We’ve all fallen under the spell of the productivity content genre. I have! Do you have any idea how many Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday books I’ve read? (Spoiler alert: All of them.) So for that reason, I’m not going to bore you with a lot of that sort of content here at Roosterly. I also don’t want you to take this advice as anything more than something cool I observed in the wild that I thought was smart and useful to my fellow mammals. Results may vary. Buyer beware. Yadda yadda yadda.

So What’s The Trick?

The productivity tip that has helped me most is simply remembering to be productive — with the aid of a regular productivity alarm. I know, I know. Something else to beep at you and make you crazy throughout the day, but hear me out.

On my date, I noticed that at the top of each hour, her phone would go off. The first time it happened I didn’t think anything of it because when you’re out with someone who checks every box on your future partner wish list, you’re oblivious to everything. The second time though I made a joke and asked if that was her escape from bad dates. She laughed and told me that it was an alarm that she has on her phone, set for the top of every hour that serves as a reminder to keep her productive.

That is genius.

Think about how often throughout the day you get sidetracked by something not related to what you’re supposed to be doing. Or something you want to be doing, but then complain later that you don’t have time to get to it. It happens to all of us. That’s the world we live in now. It’s nobody’s fault, but in the rush of notifications and things to distract ourselves with, there isn’t often something set up to remind us, “Hey, you probably should be productive right now and not watch six more hours of “The Shield” on Hulu.”

After the date, I went home and tried it out.

The Productivity Alarm

If you have a smartphone, and the odds are good you do if you’re visiting us at Roosterly, all you need is the default clock app that comes with your phone. Using the alarm feature on my iPhone’s Clock app; I then set the alarm for the top of the hour from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (I’m usually in bed around 11 and like the last two hours of the day to be completely unstructured, so I don’t set the hourly alarm for 9 p.m., 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.)

The real power of the alarm is that it helps build a habit of following through and doing what you say you will. It got you out of your head and focused on tasks by providing a friendly little shove when you need it most. Of course, you have to let it work. It’s one thing to set all those alarms and then flake on them and not follow through on what the alarm is reminding you to do, but I encourage you to give this a try and see how it works.

I’ve already seen the results. In addition to my work for Roosterly, I’m also writing a comic book and working on a fiction novel. There’s no way I’d be able to do all three, let alone trying to find Wife #2 and read the disgusting mountain of unread books that’s slowly beginning to take over my room if I didn’t have something keeping me on task. And since I have trouble with people telling me what to do, the phone isn’t a person. In a lot of ways, our smartphones have become extensions of ourselves, so I don’t greet its alarms and reminders to stay on task the same way I would if it was another person. (You might not want to admit it, but I suspect this may be true for a lot of us reading this.)

So give it a shot. Let me know at Brandon@roosterly.com if this trick worked for you after a month or so. I hope it does. But if it doesn’t, and you have a system in place that keeps you focused and on task, I’d love to hear about it.

B.J. Mendelson is the author of the book, “Social Media is Bullshit” from St. Martin’s Press. He is currently working on the sequel.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Christopher Stadler on Flickr