Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cat Love

I was asked to do a presentation on target markets for a group of local veterans who wanted to become small business owners.  I started the session with a video:

I knew the group I was speaking to would find my choice weird.  I knew they would probably think I was weird too.  But that's why this video was so purr-fect.

Knowing your target market means knowing what makes them tick.  It means relating to them and establishing a connection with them, allowing them to see that you understand their needs, beliefs, and concerns as if they were your own.

Although my class full of veterans wasn't nearly so amused with this video as I am, Whiskas helped them understand the importance of making marketing-related decisions that appeal and relate to the niche you are trying to attract.  This ad wasn't meant to appeal to everyone, but is a home run to people who are obsessed with their cats.

In our businesses, it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that everyone wants or needs our product or service.  However, our resources are limited, so it makes sense to focus efforts on select groups, or target markets, who are more likely to want and need us.

Has your small business identified its target market?  Help your target market see that you understand them and can meet their needs.  When we reach and relate to our target market, success is sure to follow.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


This week I took my car to Champion Honda for scheduled maintenance.  I was looking forward to downtime, clearing my head, and reading a new book on employee engagement.

In the quiet and spacious lobby, I picked a seat and threw my nose into my book.

Soon, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an older woman walk in.  She was thin and petite.  She carried several bags.  As she entered, a staff member gave the woman a hug.  She dropped her belongings near mine and walked away.

I was uncomfortable the woman set up so close while twenty other seats open. (Yes, I counted.)  But I was still determined to avoid conversation and read my book.  The woman shuffled her feet as she paced the waiting room floor, back and forth, back and forth.  She came uncomfortably close and walked away, only to return again.

Now and then, another staff member would come in, greet the woman, and exchanged genuine pleasantries.  Employees even acknowledged the woman's latest knitting project.  Unintentionally, I lifted my gaze and made eye contact.  The woman, surprisingly kind looking, smiled, and I smiled back, quickly returning to my book.

When my husband arrived to give me a ride, we exchanged a quick hug and kiss.  "We don't allow that in here," the woman teased.  I joked that we promised to stop.  She had been looking for an opportunity to chat and had found an open window.

The woman I saw at Honda and the respect the team members there showed her perfectly aligned with the principles in the latest book I am reading, Carrots and Sticks Don't Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT, by Paul L. Marciano.

As I reflect on my experience, I remain impressed with the respect the staff members at Champion Honda showed this woman.  Clearly, she was there often and wanted company and conversation in addition to whatever else she was waiting for.  But instead of being annoyed or curt, staff members were respectful.  They further cultivated and developed the relationship they had with the woman.

Respect is a basic and primal craving.  All of us need it.  All of us want it.  And though I started reading Carrots and Sticks to learn about employee engagement, I was thankful for the reminder that respect must be integrated, not only in the workplace, but in all other areas of life as well.  Without respect, relationships crumble. Everything falls apart.

I do believe Aretha Franklin was on to something...