I was in London at a HiFi trade show this weekend, talking with a colleague about a business leader we have both admired for several decades. Realising that the person in question must be in his mid to late seventies, we looked back at his successes and made a kind of mental list of what we thought it was that made him stand out from the crowd.
We agreed on the following:
- He is extremely likeable. With a broad grin, his smile always disarms you.
- He always remembers a name – even after years of absence.
- He always had (and still has) incredible energy: full of unstoppable enthusiasm for his products.
- He designed and produced products that were (and still are) incredibly innovative.
- His name is his brand.
- His pricing has always been high, much higher than his competitors
- His procurement philosophy has always been to push, push, push for the lowest price possible, often complaining that he is paying way too much for his components, even when they are but a tiny fraction of his retail price.
- His mantra (unashamedly): ‘buy low, sell high’.
It is easy to criticise a hard businessman. It is easy to say that you would never put price before value but time and time again, his loyal customers have queued to buy his products and never complained about ‘value’. They have always seemed proud of their purchases and the association with the man behind the brand name.
Many people will tell you that hard business is good business, and I guess it is as long as you deeply, passionately believe that ultimately you are solving a problem that your clients respect you for and are willing to pay your fees for. But above all these things – I believe they need to like you, and your brand. Think about it, not many of us met Steve jobs, we may even have heard some negative things about him, but we all feel that somehow, we knew him and would have liked him, had we met?
Have a good week
“In business, it is so much more important to see your products and services from the eyes of your customers than it is to see them from your own.” Harley Lovegrove