It All Comes Down to This…
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I’m writing this at 5:50am at the Nashville airport, getting ready to hop a plane back to Orlando. I arrived yesterday afternoon to watch our client Johnny Bulford compete in the finals of the Colgate Country Showdown. It’s kind of like American Idol but it’s only for country music and it’s been going on a lot longer! It’s in its 27th year! Artists like Garth Brooks, Martina McBride, Leann Rymes, Billy Ray Cyrus and many others got their career starts in the Showdown.

There were thousands of local and regional contests that all culminated in the final that was hosted last night, by Leann Rymes, with the top 5 winners from the final 5 regions. Johnny was the winner from the Southeast region. Anyway, Johnny WON last night! So big congrats to him and we’re looking forward to lots of big things from him!

I’m heading home now for about 24 hours and then I’m off to Cannes, France for MiDEM, the world’s largest music festival for a few days. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Anyhow, I was talking with a good friend the other day and he was confiding in me that he was working with a non-profit and couldn’t figure out why the division he was working with wasn’t doing quite as well as all of the other divisions. All divisions were located in different parts of his town, but the division he was involved in just hadn’t been performing up to par.

We went through the usual excuses, the location wasn’t right, the community wasn’t as involved, etc. but when I asked the right questions, we both got the light bulb over our heads.

Between this division and the others, it was the person running the division, we’ll call him Tom for now, that was actually the problem. When you’re involved in a business that requires community support like most non-profit, philanthropic, businesses do, you’ve got to get the community personally and financially invested. Which you might say is even tougher than being a consumer business in the retail market, because while you have to get your customers to buy into what you’re doing, there is usually a correlation between how much your product or service meets the needs of your target audience and how many actually decide to give you their money. When you are looking at a philanthropic model, this usually isn’t the case.

The problem we discovered was that Tom, the guy responsible for the mission and direction of the division, was not compelling to his audience. Everyone liked him, but at the end of the day, they had no burning desire to rally around him, help fund Tom’s project and ultimately to be recognized and embraced by Tom as a contributor to the cause. The other division leaders on the other hand, were seen as pillars in their communities that everyone loved seeing, knowing, speaking with and being recognized by.

This makes all the difference not only in the non-profit sector, but in your business as well. So, think about it, are you allowing your prospects to get to know your personality well enough to be compelling to them? If you’re not, a few quick changes will take your business to new heights in 2009!