Tag Archive for 'values'

Seeking due diligence in business

As we conduct the due diligence on what’s next for our business, we seek the information that will help us acquire knowledge and create conditions that minimize the risks and maximize the opportunity.  After all, we want to be as certain as possible that our next step is the right one, don’t we?
That’s an interesting word, certain.  Webster says it means fixed, settled, determined, not to be doubted. But it’s a word that isn’t often found in business plans.
The 19th century president of Harvard University, Charles W. Eliot, said, “All business proceeds on beliefs, or judgment of probabilities, and not on certainties.”
What do you think the marketplace — indeed, the world — would look like if business had been built more on certainties than beliefs? I think we would probably be closer to wearing a stone ax on our belt than a smartphone.
It’s important to understand that on the entrepreneurial scale, each of us resides somewhere between the foolhardy and seekers of certainty. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to know when to seek certainty and when to move forward with our beliefs.
No position on this scale is better than another — the world needs all kinds of entrepreneurs. But understanding where we reside on the entrepreneurial scale helps us make better business plans.

Your values and customer communities


Last time we talked about focusing on developing customer communities as a way to find relevance through your online strategy, including website and social media. Now let’s strengthen this relevance by focusing on values.


Increasingly, prospects will turn into customers, and customers will become loyal, because they’re attracted to what your company stands for. They are looking for evidence of your values in your online elements. For example:

  1. Are your brand elements – brand promise and image – all about you and your stuff, or do they sound like something that would benefit your customer community?
  2. When delivering information to the community, is it all about you, or does it contribute to helping customers?
  3. What is the tone of your marketing message? “Tone” is how brand messages are incorporated as you serve the community, from crassly commercial to almost subliminal. You should strike a tone balance between making a sale and serving the community.


In a world where everything you sell is a commodity, value – product, price, service – is the threshold of a customer community, but values are the foundation. Anyone can find value, but when customers like your values, they tell their friends. Indeed, the most dynamic and potentially viral element of any online community is the feeling members have about your values. But remember, that “feeling” can go either way – positive or negative.


Here are a few guidelines for establishing compelling values online that match your values offline:

  1. Acquire and use the technology that makes online community building possible.
  2. Create an environment where an online community can flourish around the value you deliver and the values you demonstrate.
  3. Serve and protect your customer community, while accepting that you cannot control it. As customer members come and go, and say what’s on their minds, maximize the positive and repair the negative.


Once community members find your value and like your values, prospects will turn into customers and customers will turn into your best salespeople.


Write this on a rock…


Build and serve customer communities by delivering value and demonstrating values.

For more great Small Business Advocate content, click HERE

Social Media Builds Customer Communities

Two things are sure with regard to social media and businesses: 1) as a way to connect with customers, social media is here to stay; 2) social media will evolve into an essential, customer community-building tool every successful business - large or small - will use.

“Social media” is the technology that makes online community building possible, not the community itself. It allows for the creation of, and service to, online communities, where dialogue and interaction among community founders and members are possible. While the term “social media” is handy, it would serve businesses well to think of it as “building online customer communities.”

There are two primary examples of these communities:

1.      A company’s profile and “fan page” on sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Your company can build communities with these public platforms, which are free, but have limits.

2.      Communities founded and hosted by your company and oriented around relationships with customers and prospects. This type of community is established when customers subscribe to one or more of your channel offerings in order to receive information. There is now new technology emerging that helps you create a Facebook-like social media platform that you host, which I predict will become the next killer app.

A channel is a syndication tool or method of content delivery and service to a community. For example, real simple syndication (RSS), a blog, email marketing, including an email newsletter (ezine), a text (SMS), and Twitter are channel tools, through which businesses serve their customer communities.

A website is a very important part of your online presence, but it is not a very effective community-building tool. However, a website can become a platform from which you launch and serve customer communities. Think of your website as the living room where you entertain new friends and social media communities as the den you share with close friends.

There is one critically important thing for a founding company to understand about both of the online customer community types: The company cannot control community behavior.  Members - customers and prospects - control the conversation in the community. The founding company can only create and influence the community by establishing and demonstrating community values.

If value is the threshold of a community relationship, values are the foundation. Get started building online customer communities.

On The Small Business Advocate Show I’ve talked quite a bit about building customer communities and social media on my radio program. Click here to see and listen…




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