Friday, 17 January 2014

'Passionate' about your sector? Prove it.

Google ‘passionate about property’ and be prepared for the long list of estate agents who claim to be so.  In fact, you’ll find businesses everywhere proclaiming their ‘passion’ for what they do.  How lucky these people are to work in a field they’re passionate about.

I’m all for brands being clear about what they stand for but I’m also clear that any such assertions need to be explained and then demonstrated through consistent action and behaviour.  I read such assertions and have one response: prove it.

If you’re making such assertions in your business and you’re serious about keeping the statement, ask yourself the following:

  • What does this mean?  Make a point of asking people inside and outside the business what they understand the meaning of your statement to be.  You may be surprised to find an array of different interpretations, not all of them what you intended.
  • Who says we are? Of course you do, but does anyone else?  What third party recommendations/commentary do you have to prove your passion?  What are the results of your customer satisfaction programme?  What do customers say – not just the last time you asked them, but now.
  • What’s in it for our customers?  Ask yourself what this means for the average customer and make sure you explain it to them.  In the case of the estate agent, does it mean that you know all the properties in your catchment area incredibly well?  Does it mean you’re able to advise on what makes a property saleable to a particular type of buyer?
  • How can we demonstrate our passion every day?  It seems to me that people who are ‘passionate’ about something live and breathe it.  They never cease talking enthusiastically about their favourite subject.  They’re borderline obsessive.  So, if our estate agent is passionate, I’d expect to see them talking regularly in the local media about property and their website should have lots of really useful information about the subject, for example.
  • How do we get all of our people passionate?  This is probably the most important question but may be the most difficult to answer.  Consider appointing role models to champion the cause.  Revisit your reward/commission structures and ask yourself whether they encourage different or counter behaviours.  Look at training options.  Consider how you communicate and behave internally – are you continually talking about the subject and providing your people with the necessary data, tools and know-how to build their own passion?

The key is, whatever you say about your business will be meaningless unless you’re able to bring it to life in a meaningful way for your customers and prospects.