Small Business Success for the New Year
Forge an Emotional Bond
Embrace your customers, enrich yourself
I walked into the elevator prepared for the strange silence that descends when people enter that enclosed box. But suddenly one of my fellow passengers began speaking to his colleague – loudly. “It was the first time we were exhibiting at the conference, and I really wanted to make a huge splash,” he seemed to boast. “I rented out a massive hall at the host hotel, ordered a feast for 200, and waited for them to file in. But no one showed up. It was the most embarrassing day in my life!”
And the story didn’t end there. The guy had to go back to the show the next year because so many potential clients were in attendance: “We had to do something, so I rented a hospitality suite at the hotel and filled it with arcade games. That way, if no one showed, I’d have something to do all night. And you know what? Word got out that we had games, and the place was jammed.”
The lesson: You don’t attract a crowd through large, general events. There has to be something about an event that hits home with your audience, like serving up arcade games to conference-weary folks looking to detox after a day of intense schmoozing and selling.
If you can connect with a potential customer on an emotional level, you will make the sale. And to connect with customers, you have to get to know them and deliver a message that expresses your understanding of who they are, what they need, and how you can help.
In this month’s cover story, senior editor explores the tremendous opportunity born of a new America – where the African-American and Hispanic populations each have become larger than the entire population of Canada and where the Asian-American community has attained the highest household income of any group in the country. There is great buying power in these ethnic clusters. The opportunity here is to dive into these barely tapped markets, get to know them, and deliver your product or service in a way that creates an emotional connection between yourself and your new audience.
Make no mistake; this opportunity is not about being politically correct or offering a helping hand. This is about recognizing the burgeoning economic power of ethnic groups and adapting your business to their preferences to achieve greater sales. It’s about enriching your company with cultural diversity and enjoying the profits that stem from expanding the scope of your market.
Two start-ups tune in to market demand
We all know it. Television is a wasteland of programming marked by a few oases of entertainment that give us reason to keep the set plugged in. Don’t get me wrong; I watch TV. But have you ever found yourself clicking through the channel spectrum over and over again, hoping that in the next cycle something good will come on? Meanwhile, an hour of your life has been sucked into the electromagnetic ether.
Now, I’m not proposing that we give up on television. Far from it. The opportunity here is to find a way to deliver the content people want, when they want to view it. Give consumers a personalized television experience. Forget about “converging” the Internet with the television to create some sort of customized infotainment hybrid à la WebTV. The consumer base is not there. Just look at who’s making the biggest splash with the Net: companies like Amazon.com and eBay. They leverage the convenience and interactive environment of the Internet. And who’s hot in television? Companies like Disney and the Fox Network, entertainment specialists that have contributed to the explosion of TV content by creating a multitude of programs for targeted audiences. All of these heavy hitters are fully entrenched in their media. Their one common thread is their understanding that by serving the particular needs of viewers best, they can master their media best. And that’s the key to success for any business in 1999: empower consumers to get what they want.
The CEOs of Replay Networks and TiVo, who are featured on the cover of this issue of Success, also understand the importance of satisfying consumers that way. With new set-top-box technology, they are enabling people to create their own channels devoted to specific programs and types of programs, like action movies or romantic comedies. People will even be able to “pause” a live broadcast, so they can take out the trash and then resume viewing where they left off or fast-forward to real time.
But is this revolutionary technology enough to guarantee success? Not when the competition is this tough. If you think your rivals are unyielding, take a look at how these two CEOs are fighting it out – because this story is not just about breaking open a new market; it’s about the passion, commitment, and keen business acumen companies must possess if they’re going to thrive in a highly competitive landscape. Think you have what it takes? Read their story, and find out.
Make Your Move
The journey from inspiration to perspiration
You can and you will.” The words came booming across a small, open Želd brimming with wide-eyed listeners. And again, with absolute certainty: “You can and you will.” I don’t remember much about the day I heard this incantation, but after 14 years, those words are as clear to me as my own. The speaker was author Stephen King, an interesting keynote choice made by my sister’s graduating class. That’s right; the author of such horrifying tales as Pet Sematary, It, and Christine was selected to propel a bunch of sheltered 17- and 18-year-olds into the real world. Perhaps the irony appealed to him.
King spoke of how, before he ever put pen to paper, he would walk into bookstores and read the drivel on their shelves. He thought to himself; I could do better than that. And unlike so many who utter those same words, King backed his claim with action. He could, and he did. King’s message that afternoon was simple: “You are not going to win the lottery; there are no magic answers.” It’s up to each of us to make our lives into what we want. We can and will. So, the circumstances are never going to be optimal. We will never know all we need to know, have all we need to have. But consider this: Opportunity is no more than an illusion if we don’t act on it. So ask yourself, “Am I making the most of my abilities; am I acting on that great idea I had yesterday or last week?” No? Join the crowd. And read this issue of Success, because it’s dedicated to you. This month we are delivering to you the inside track on self-optimization – from the secrets of sales guru Harvey Mackay to the inspirational tales of entrepreneurs who dared to take on the giants of their industries.
Within these pages are the stories of men and women who had the gumption to turn the potential of opportunity into reality. And what of those of you still working toward the day when you can cast off your pinstripes in favor of the entrepreneur’s khakis? We are introducing a department just for you. Applauding the emergence of the entrepreneurial spirit within corporate America, we are launching Mavericks, a column devoted to helping an important segment of our readers grow within a corporate infrastructure – through entrepreneurship. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you create your enterprise on the shoulders of a corporation or on the soles of your own two feet. What’s important is that you do it. You can and you will.
This is our year
It’s January 1999. It’s not just the commencement of a new year; we are treading upon the threshold of a new century, of the next millennium. It’s a time of infinite possibilities; it’s time to make your mark on this world.
We at Success know that our readers have the drive and determination to turn their dreams into reality – to make their mark. We know because we’ve been there for you every day of this century, delivering the insight and encouragement you need to reach for your goals and grab them. We knew it when we brought Thomas Alva Edison into your living rooms 99 years ago, and we know it today when we introduce you to mega-entrepreneur Michael Dell.
As we face the dawn of this new year, we will continue to face new challenges together, working to turn opportunity into prosperity. And so with January 1999, Success is redoubling its efforts to provide its readers with the tools they need to launch and grow their businesses.
In our first move out of the gate, we are addressing the entrepreneur’s most pressing need: money. That’s right, we1re beefing up our finance coverage. That means we will now deliver to you, 12 times a year, a roadmap to funding, in our Raising Capital department. We will further help you make the most of your funds in Your Money, our personal-finance department, which will also now appear regularly. Even more, beginning with the January issue, we are introducing a new department called Going Public. This column offers an insider’s perspective on the initial-public-offering process. So whether your company is ready right now for an IPO or you’re hoping to make that move someday, we will show you the ropes and guide you through the process.
What about features? You’ll be seeing more finance coverage there too, starting with this month’s review of hot new financial services coming out of the commercial banks – from overnight sweep accounts to Internet cash management.
And this is only the beginning of the in-depth coverage of the entrepreneurial opportunities and developments that we want to bring to our readers. But maybe you have some ideas of your own about the information you require to make your business dreams a reality. We want to know what they are. I want to know. So drop me a line. It’s a whole new world out there, and Success is going to help you make the most of it.