This review first ran in the Dec. 21 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.
Here are five New Year’s resolutions courtesy of the best business books I reviewed this year for the Hamilton Spectator.
1. Give us something to talk about.
Word of mouth is the least expensive and most effective way to grow your business, say Talk Triggers authors Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin.
Do something different, unique and unexpected and we’ll rave about you online and in person. Check in anytime and every time at a Doubletree Hotel and you get a fresh-baked cookie. That warm cookie reinforces the hotel chain’s promise of a warm welcome
“A unique selling proposition is a feature, articulated with a bullet point, that is discussed in a conference room. A talk trigger is a benefit, articulated with a story, that is discussed at a cocktail party. Done well, talk triggers clone your customers.”
2. Start answering the questions we’re asking.
Every business and organization is a media company, according to Marcus Sheridan.
“As consumers, we expect to be fed great information,” says the author of They Ask, You Answer. “Are you willing to meet their expectations? Or would you prefer that the competition be the one who answers the question for them? Remember, they’re going to get their answers from someone, so wouldn’t you prefer they get their answers from you?”
Sheridan saved his pool company by doing exactly that. He told prospective customers what it would cost to put a pool in their backyard, why his pools weren’t for everyone and made referrals to his competitors. So quit talking about yourself in 2019. Stop cranking out content that we didn’t ask for or care about. Instead, be the best teacher within your industry. Earn our trust and our business by answering our questions with fierce honesty.
3. Skip the wine and cheese mix and mingle and instead put us to work.
“Research suggests we are better off engaging in activities that draw a cross-section of people and letting those connections form naturally as we engage with the task at hand,” says Friend of a Friend author David Burkus
“You may not be focused on networking while you participate in such activities, but after you finish, you’ll find that you have gathered a host of new and interesting people that now call you friend.”
If you score an invite to a Jon Levy dinner party in New York City, you make the meal together. You can only talk about what you do for a living once you’ve sat down at the dinner table.
Pixar Animation Studios runs an in-house university with courses that bring together senior executives, front-line staff, veterans and new hires. Everyone is treated the same, can take up to four hours of paid time each week and can skip meetings if they’re supposed to be in class.
4. Instead of the golden rule, follow the mom rule.
Treat us the way you’d want us to treat your mom.
Jeanne Bliss, the godmother of customer service and the author Would You Do That To Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard For How To Treat Your Customers says you need to respect our time, take the monkey off our back, stop asking us to repeat ourselves and don’t leave us in the dark.
“To put this in the simplest terms, do you deliver pain or pleasure? Do you make it easy and a joy for your customers to do business with you?” Your mom would want you to the do the right thing. So make her proud by taking customer service seriously and making it personal.
5. Prepare ahead for a viral video starring an employee doing something truly dumb or way worse.
“We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea,” said a Domino’s spokesperson after employees violated every imaginable health code in a kitchen.
“Even people who’ve been with us as loyal customers for 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s, and that’s not fair.”
Melissa Agnes, author of Crisis Ready, lists eight expectations you must immediately meet if you have any hope of recovering when your reputation takes a mortal hit. Make building a culture of crisis readiness a priority in 2019.
“You want to get your team to a level of preparedness that is instinctive, rather than solely being dependent on a linear plan that cannot possibly account for all the variations, bumps and turns that may present themselves.”
Jay Robb serves as communications manager for McMaster University’s Faculty of Science, lives in Hamilton and has reviewed business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999.