CAM’s 2010 Annual Conference, our 15th, was rated as the best ever. Our speakers were generally rated very highly and a few had some of the best ratings ever.
Roy Osing introduced members to his concepts about strategy and the “only” statement. He was the subject of an article in the Financial Post on November 29, 2010. See the article below.
The conference presentations are posted to the website as are the photos and awards from our Annual Awards Dinner.
The reports at the Annual General Meeting indicate that CAM is in good shape in all departments. Of particular note is the committee system that was established a year ago. It has been operating well and is still looking for a few volunteers to participate in the existing and yet-to-be-established committees.
Following the Desi Mover incident and arrest in early 2010, the Toronto Police Service recommended that the City of Toronto require movers to have a permit to operate in Toronto. CAM’s board of directors, in conjunction with our van line members, has developed some recommendations that it feels the City of Toronto should incorporate in its permit process. CAM’s recommendations are what it sees as the minimum qualifications for operating as a mover.
We felt that a recent regulatory change in the USA might interest you as well as affect you. At AMSA’s request the FMCSA amended “its regulations to require brokers that arrange the transportation of household goods in interstate or foreign commerce for consumers to comply with certain consumer protection requirements.” See the new regulation (pdf).
Please welcome CAM’s new mover members. Visit our online membership listing to find out about their services and business details.
The CAM office will be closed for the holidays with limited access to voice mail from noon on Friday, December 24 until 9:00 am on Monday, January 3, 2011.
What's the most important word in business?
Rick Spence, Financial Post, Monday, Nov. 29, 2010
Some would say "sales," some might say "profit." Others would say "customers," and I might agree with them, if I hadn't met Vancouver consultant Roy Osing.
He has convinced me the most important word in your business is "only," because if you're not using it every day, you're missing a golden opportunity to rise above the competition.
Osing, who spent a career in marketing and business development with Telus, is author of Be Different or Be Dead, so you know differentiation is a big deal for him. His formula for the "only" statement is the simplest branding principle I've ever run across.
It's easy to understand. When you introduce yourself or explain your business to a prospect, you say, "We are the only business in Calgary that specializes in rebuilding tractor motors." Or, to push it further, "we are the only business in Canada that uses a patented algorithm to convert analog medical files into digital documents."
You get the drift. You figure out what makes you unique, then plug the heck out of it. In doing so, you accomplish three things: You directly and simply explain what your company does; you position it in the best light vs. your competitors; and you create an impression of market leadership and confidence that will probably linger longer in your prospect's mind than the details of what you do.
I've heard lots of prescription for writing elevator pitches and mission statements, but Osing's formula strikes me as one of the best. Instead of talking about low prices, great selection and friendly customer service, all common commodities in the business world, you are forced to think about what you do that's actually different from the rest of your market.
What if you can't find an "only" statement that sets your business apart? That's where this concept really kicks in. It compels you to face the fact you're running a commodity business. Maybe that's good enough, if you're the only plumber for 50 km.
Most businesses, though, face too much competition. They need to offer prospects a compelling reason to do business with them and they need to get better at communicating that reason.
So the true power of the "only" statement could lie in its ability to get you to articulate a reason for customers to call.
"After hours of gruelling only work," writes Osing, you may have to concede your business is basically the same as every other. But you'll now have the impetus to do something special. "If so, develop the competencies to move into the 'Be Different' space, and communicate it clearly to the market."
In a half-day workshop for executives and entrepreneurs this month in Toronto, I got to see Osing propound his "be different" principles. It's all about creating a business, he says, that is not just distinct, remarkable and authentic, but indispensable, unforgettable and "gaspworthy."
That last adjective doesn't pass the spell-check on my computer, but it's a stretch goal many companies should aim for. Why not try to elicit a gasp from people, rather than the usual shrug?
When Four Seasons brags about the doorman who grabbed a cab and followed a hotel guest to the airport to return his forgotten briefcase, that's gaspworthy. It creates an indelible picture in the prospect's mind of the level of service to which that company aspires.
(A few weeks ago I found an attache case under the table at the end of a conference in a Toronto hotel, and handed it in to the clerk at the front desk. Her frown signalled she didn't see this as an unforgettable customer-service opportunity.)
Whether you're offering unique product quality, price or service, says Osing, successful differentiation involves giving customers outstanding value. "If you can't deliver value that is relevant (something people really care about) and unique (something only you can provide) you are in serious trouble," he says.
"It sounds mushy, but it's not," Osing adds. When you create your "only" statement, you are making a commitment to provide consistent, unique value. That requires, flawless execution. Everyone in your business must understand how they add value for customers, and deliver it every day.
But "only" is a moving target. Your competition is always changing; market needs evolve. In the end, a commitment to "only" requires your business to become expert at meeting changing needs. "Adjust your strategy as you go," Osing says. "Get good at anticipating customer needs, but get great at reacting to new opportunities."
Sounds easy, but Osing admits most companies won't do it, preferring to drone along in the same undifferentiated way. But if that hands you another "only" advantage, so much the better.
Rick Spence is a writer, consultant and speaker specializing in entrepreneurship. His column appears weekly in the Financial Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.