I had a jolly good time reading this post: 20 Business Lessons Learned from Monty Python. If you’re into business, and into Monty Python, this bloke has found your (my) sweet spot.
I’ll post the relevant marketing and social media passages, but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
Marketplace and Competitive Research
8. “So, in, er, three years you’ve spotted no camels?
-Yes in only three years. Er, I tell a lie, four, be fair, five. I’ve been camel spotting for just the seven years. Before that of course I was a yeti spotter.”
It’s important to take an unbiased look at prospective commercial opportunities before investing much time and capital. Many potential business models appear to be new and innovative, but if demand doesn’t exist for the service or product, you won’t make money. It’s also important to dispassionately judge the success of these investments — if a mistake is made, better to cut your losses early than continue on an unprofitable path.
9. “The whole problem of Whicker Island is here in a nutshell. There are just too many Whickers. The light-weight suits. The old school tie. The practiced voice of the seasoned campaigner.”
Many marketplaces are overcrowded and past their peaks. If there are too many similar established product or service offerings, a new player will not likely be able to penetrate the market in any meaningful way. If the newbie can’t significantly distinguish themselves from the established “old guard,” the new company is much better off finding a less crowded market that offers more opportunity for visibility and growth.
Before making a presentation pitch to a prospective client, it’s extremely important to research what they’re about. An off-target pitch will waste time and kill any chance for a prospective business relationship.
The key to excellent customer service is honest, open, direct communication. It’s better to tell customers something they don’t want to hear rather than string them along only to ultimately disappoint them. When a customer believes he or she was mislead or her or she wasted a lot of time with no meaningful result, the customer tends to become irate and act accordingly. It’s not a sin to tell customers that you can’t service their needs and they should go elsewhere.
It’s true that many consumer complaints are unwarranted and that some people have a propensity to whine about anything. However, an organization still has to take these folks seriously and treat their complaints as if they were justified. Trying to disprove the validities of these complaints would be a serious mistake; it would waste corporate resources and likely embolden the complainer. The right personal touch can turn these people from headaches into zealous advocates of your brand.