Lesson 1

Make sure you ask for the business

I have just watched a beggar collect at least £5 worth of donations in the last half hour with a sign that says – “I am saving up for a prostitute, weed, wine and a room at the Ritz.” Not one of the people bothered to read his sign and know what they were even donating for. Not the family man with his wife and children, not the group of older people probably in their 80s, not the business man in the suit, nobody. The beggar obviously learned the power of asking, no matter what.

 

Lesson 2

It’s not the money

People pile into Starbucks one after another spending £3 to £4 for of a cup coffee. Obviously you can get a cup of coffee at a cafe down the road for a lot less money. But yet, people willingly spend a £100 per month or more at Starbucks. Why?

 

People are buying the experience and the perception of the brand. I am sitting here writing this article in a busy Starbucks and people watching when I could be in the quiet and seclusion of my nice hotel room. The person in the seat next to me is listening to music on an iPod when they could obviously do it for free in the café down the road with a less expensive cup of coffee. The gentleman in the big living room type chair is reading a novel. People want the experience. Understand your customer and the value they want and the money will become less important. It’s not necessarily about the money; it’s more likely to be about the perception of value!

 

Lesson 3

Change the process to win

I am looking out the window as people rush on the streets. The whole world is moving faster today; the Internet, news, businesses and people in general are moving faster and faster.

 

People will willingly pay lots of money for a process that either speeds things up or slows things down. Although many people want things and processes that speed things up, just as many are fighting brain drain because of all the speed and want to slow things down. Change your process with your customers in mind, sell your unique advantage and experience to the customer and they will pay for the process.

 

Lesson 4

Change the wrapping

I am staying at a small boutique hotel here in London (which probably used to be a bed and breakfast). Because I travel quite a lot and stay in so many look-a-like chain hotels, it’s a treat to stay somewhere unique. In the last several years there has been a big push towards small hoteliers and guest house owners upgrading and improving their facilities.

Because I am in and out of so many businesses it’s nice when you see a business that has tried to put a unique touch to their facilities.

Have you ever visited a McDonalds in a city with strict requirements that made McDonalds change their normal outside appearance to be in tune with the local environment and culture? There’s a good chance it made you look twice and say “Oh that’s cool, a Non-McDonalds McDonalds.” It does not have to cost a lot of money to be unique and appealing in your environment.

Lesson 5

The money is in the niche

Watching traffic go by in London makes you understand the wide array of cultures, diversity and multitude of options people desire in their choices. I often watch in amazement as many business owners are led by advertising agencies to spend vast sums of money trying to be everything to everyone with a generic non-benefit driven message.

I often think business owners and leaders would be better served to park their car across the street from their business and just watch for an hour. Next, I think business owners and leaders would be well served to drive around the towns where their customers live and just look at what they buy, what they do and who your customers really are.

Who knew you could learn so much at Starbucks?

 

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