The MFSA Mid-Winter Conference was held in Phoenix this past February, at the beautiful Arizona Grand Resort. As you might expect, the folks back at the interlinkONE office in Boston certainly gave me their share of teasing as they (incorrectly, I might add) believed I spent most of time there in the sun.
However, I must admit that to spent time during the conference watching a movie! This happened during one of the keynote sessions.
The presenter was Wayne Peterson of the Black Canyon Consulting Group and the title of his presentation was “Navigating In a Life Raft”. He prefaced each of the main points in his presentation with scenes from the movie “Castaway“.
In addition to entertaining us with clips of Tom Hanks’ exceptional acting job, Wayne provided 5 lessons that business leaders in the mail, fulfillment, and print service providers can follow in these changing times in the world of marketing and communications.
Step 1: Assess where you are now
Times are less-than-ideal for many folks that primarily provide traditional marketing services, which certainly includes mail, print, and fulfillment. In the case of Tom Hanks, he had survived a horrific plane crash but was stranded.
Wayne encouraged all attendees to avoid standing still, but rather, to take a hard and honest look at their situation. This includes revenue, trends, resources, technology, customers, and more.
Step 2: Define a Strategy
Once you’ve assessed what you have, you need to make a strategy to guide your next moves. According to Wayne, a strategy should consist of three things:
- Diagnosis — a statement of the problem and challenge. It should be a simple, distiller description of what really matters.
- Treatment Plan: what is needed to deal with that diagnosis
- Prescriptions: specific actions needed to start implementing that treatment
Step 3: Build up your Brand
For companies that make their living providing services to other businesses, one thing often gets lost in the shuffle is this: taking the time to service and build up your own company!
One major aspect of this involves taking positive steps to improve and increase brand awareness and recognition.
In the case of Tom Hanks and Castaway, the “brand” that he defined and built up was Wilson.
As a service provider, your brand is quite heavily defined your customer’s perception. To help control that, a company must deliver on their brand promise. In order to motivate one’s customers, a brand promise should:
- Convey a compelling benefit
- Be authentic and credible
- It must be able to be kept, every time.
Step 4: Go to Market
This step is much easier said than done. And often, it takes multiple attempts. In “Castaway”, Tom Hanks ran through multiple attempts and variations as he looked for ways to find rescue.
Going to market involves taking a look at your strategy and brand promise, and then choosing how to take that value to find new customers or new business from existing ones.
For many service providers, this may require changing the resources or process that guides their Sales team. Reps may need to adjust from selling commodities to selling solutions.
That may not be an easy transition, but one that can reap extraordinary benefits.
Step 5: Create a Compelling Customer Experience
In today’s multi-channel world, a customer’s perception of one’s business is defined by ever touch-point that they experience with us. Thus, we must be willing to analyze everything we do — from invoices, to phone reception, to email signatures, to website content, to collateral, and more.
Those items must align with the goals and values that we want our company to reach and be known for.
In Castaway, Tom Hanks’ character works for FedEx. They have long been known for having a brand promise that a package will be delivered! Near the end of the movie, there is a powerful scene where Tom Hanks delivers one of the packages that was originally on his plane to the destination mailing address.
Now that’s a way to deliver on a promise!
I must say that this was certainly one of the more unique presentations that I have ever seen at a conference. And while I did use a few of my hand-written notes to help create this blog post, many of the points are still clearly in my head more than a couple of weeks since my trip to Phoenix.