Jon Swanson, formerly the Entrepreneurial Chicken, is writing about small business again. He helped again this year with a training event for a small retail cooperative.
What I heard today made me more optimistic about the presentations in any time in the past 6 years of doing this.
Today, one of the groups said, “We want to be the information source for ___”. Another group said, “we could take laptops with __ software out to the customers and design right on the spot.” Another person said, “We won’t do television advertising, but we can take pictures of our customers working and put them on our website.” Another group spent the bulk of their time talking about the people side of the solution, the staffing changes that would need to be part of the solution for the company in the case study.
Here were mostly department managers from comparatively small business saying that what can make them successful is moving out of the product business into the information and relationship business. They aren’t selling hammers and nails, they are selling houses and homes and lives.
I did my best to encourage them, within the confines of my role. I wanted to say, “YES!!!” In taking on big, you can try to undercut their margins which will fail. You can try to duplicate their advertising budget, which will fail. You can try to out program them, which will fail. Or you can try to outlove them. (I know, it’s business, but at the core of relationship marketing must be relationship, which, at some level, has to be about love.) And the big boxes, whatever their industry: food, church, hardware, furniture, departments, are not fundamentally about outloving anyone.
For the rest of the story about art and crayons and Small is the New Big, visit Jon at Levite Chronicles.