What’s your business’s "high concept?’ | VailDaily.com

What’s your business’s "high concept?’

Cliff Thompson

Special to the DailyScott McKain, a nationally recognized speaker, spoke to local business owners recently.

These “emotional connections” are the key to building a winning business, said Scott McKain, a nationally recognized speaker and owner of publicly-traded Obsidian Enterprises, who addressed members of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau recently on the theme “All Business is Show Business.”

“People in today’s economy expect an experience,” McKain said. “Business today needs to build, maintain and manage amazing experiences. The purpose of our business is to properly create experiences that are so amazing that it ensures customer loyalty.”

McKain said successful businesses are able to create what he called “high concepts” or short, powerful statements that form an instant bond with potential customers. Fed-Ex’s “Absolutely, positively overnight delivery” is one example as is Southwest Airlines’ mantra: cheap, fun and affordable flying, McKain said.

“Mind share precedes market share,” McKain said. “It is vitally important to understand high concept. This is hard stuff.

“Most businesses can’t describe their high concept,” he said. “If you can’t describe it your clients won’t be able to either. The more you define your business, the more you have to make the right business decisions.

Even loyal customers will leave you if you do not create an enjoyable experience,” McKain said. “Businesses need to show customers what they’re all about, not just merely tell them.

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“Seventy percent of customers would go somewhere else if it were more fun,” he added. “How do we amaze or thrill our customers? We need to create a compelling experience so customers come back.”

Starbucks is an example of a company that has taken the American habit of a coffee break and converted that into an experience that leaves people willing pay extra.

Doing so, McKain said, requires thinking “outside the box” and more importantly, requires you to constantly talk to your customers.

McKain likened positioning a business to a typical three-act movie. The first act introduces the characters and conflict, the second shows characters attempting to resolve the conflict and the third is a heroic resolution of the conflict, he said.

“Most business communication begins its story on act two,” McKain said. “It’s a challenge to communicate accurately what your business is doing.”

And it all boils down to employee training and focusing on the bigger picture and paying attention to details, he said, and those details emerge through market research.

At Starbucks, coffee aroma is so important to customers, McKain said, that employees may not use aftershave or perfume because it would interfere with the olfactory component of visiting the store.

“The ultimate customer experience is not created by an organization but by an individual who is the embodiment of your organization,” he said.

Too often, he said, businesses concentrate just on the transaction.

“Customers are a great resource. Too many times we treat them like customers instead of treating them like individuals,” he said.

Businesses that stay ahead of consumer expectations are ahead of the game by creating what he calls “the ultimate customer experience.”

“The experience needs to transcend mere price,” he said. “When that occurs, it will generate more transactions. The business world is too fast and too busy. It you do the same thing over and over, you actually get less business.”

There’s also a personal component to business success, McKain said.

The better an individual is at managing and guiding a business, the better the business, he said.

“Your business gets better when you get better,” McKain said. “Those who make the most compelling case engender the most support.”

McKain said to succeed you need to act and not wait.

“Most people have a mountain of things they intended to do,” he said. “Today is showtime.”

Scott McKain’s Web site is: http://www.scottmckain.com.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com