Guy Kawasaki Step 9 & 10 to Enchantment

It’s been over two months since my last post summarizing Guy Kawasaki’s presentation at the Inc. 500/5000 conference I attended last October, during which he offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. I have been discussing how his concepts are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book). Thankfully, one of Guy’s tips toward enchantment did NOT include being more timely in completing a blog series…

Step 9 is to enchant up. 

Guy summarized this step pretty rapidly with “Deliver bad news early.”

Step 10 is to enchant down.

Here, the gist of the step was to empower the employees of the company, help them master new skills, give them autonomy, and empower them to take action.

Admittedly, these last two steps (and even 7 & 8 to a lesser degree) are shorter on information than the first steps in this blog series, but that’s not entirely my fault. Certainly, I’m guilty of waiting too long to write this, and have not retained as much information in memory as I could have, but the first 5-6 steps were also given much more time and attention in Guy’s presentation by Guy himself. By the time we got to step 7, he realized he was nearly out of time and quickly glossed over steps 8, 9, and 10.

Even so, it was still the best presentation at the conference, in my opinion. And if such a celebrated speaker can experience a moment of mis-timing, perhaps there is hope for the rest of us as we speak and present.

Here’s hoping I attend the upcoming Inc. 500/5000 conference this year in Washington D.C. to see if another presenter reaches or surpasses the bar set by Guy last October.  I’ll go if Outskirts Press wins its 5th placement on the Inc. 500/5000 list in a row, something less than 1,000 total companies have ever accomplished.  We’ve applied and now we simply have to wait until August to learn of the results.  2012 was our best year ever, thanks to our wonderful, supportive authors our talented personnel, and the continued explosive growth of self publishing in general, so I’m cautiously optimistic…

Guy Kawasaki Step 8 to Enchantment

At  the Inc. 500/5000 conference I attended last October, Guy Kawasaki offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. Since then, I have been summarizing those points, off and on, and discussing how they are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).

Step 8 is to use technology.

Once again Guy demonstrates his admiration for Apple, Inc. by creating a “Step to Enchantment” that is so reflective of what Apple does incredibly well.  Yes, last time I mentioned that Apple was all about presentation, which may have implied Apple values flash over substance.  On the contrary, Apple is one of those rare companies that actually delivers the substance (the technology in this case) to back-up the hype (their flash, their presentation).

With this step, Guy suggests that great companies can use technology to enchant their customers by smoothing over, and even removing, potential “speed bumps.”  A speed bump, of course, is anything that gets in the way of the customer having a flawless experience with that company’s product, service, or brand.  The Internet (and more recently, social media) has given all start-up businesses, as well as established enterprises, an equal opportunity to use technology to provide valuable information, insights, and assistance to their clients or customers.   What used to be a costly and time intensive exercise of direct-mail notification or phone calls can now be accomplished instantly via email or the company’s Facebook or Twitter pages; all the business needs to do is actually use these new technologies that are available to interact with their customers or clients — and let potential new customers or clients experience that dialogue transparently, in real time.

As technically sophisticated as our self publishing website is at Outskirts Press, I feel we could perform this step better.  It becomes more difficult to “use technology” effectively when a customer base spans the age groups between 8 and 80.  Apple is an amazing company with amazing technology simply because an eight year and an eighty year old can often have the same smooth, enjoyable experience with an Apple product (except when upgrading to mobile OS 6 deletes your cloud contacts and calendar, ugh, but I digress).  An 8-year-old can use our online system just fine. 80 year-olds, on the other hand, sometimes find the experience a little confusing.  Fortunately, we offer Publishing Consultants and then Author Representatives, who are available to walk every one of our clients through the entire process, not unlike the Apple clerks at your friendly neighborhood Apple retailer (except you don’t have to drive to our consultants to get the help you need).

 

Guy Kawasaki Step 7 to Enchantment

At  the not-so-recent Inc. 500/5000 conference I attended at the beginning of October 2012, Guy Kawasaki offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. I am (and have been for several months) in the middle of summarizing those points and discussing how they are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).  And, in the meantime, you should get Guy’s book, “Enchantment” for the total skinny.

Step 7 is to present.

What does this mean? It means that customers/clients become enchanted with companies and/or people who have learned the art of presentation. Again, Apple provides a very good example of this (it is almost as if Guy reverse-engineered everything he thinks Apple does “right” to arrive upon this list in the first place, because let’s face it — Apple is one hell of an enchanting company).  Everything Apple does is about presentation, from its commercials to its retail stores to the very boxes their products arrive in.  What other company can boast that its customers keep the BOXES of their products?  Apple’s presentation is so good, in fact, that its customers are liable to ignore (or quickly forgive) gross mistakes that would incite riots if perpetrated by lesser-liked companies (Apple Maps, anyone?).

Infographics are an example of presentation.  Rather than requiring a customer or client to read paragraph after boring paragraph, infographics boil the content down to a few graphs, charts, or images, easily digestible for those of us who have lost the ability to read and comprehend anything longer than 140-characters in this post-Twitter world. Videos are another example of presentation. Along with creating more infographics in 2013, Outskirts Press will be creating more videos — videos that “present” our company and some specific services in a fun, engaging way.  When those videos are done, I’ll share them here…

 

 

Guy Kawasaki Step 6 to Enchantment

Okay, here we are once again, back to the Guy Kawasaki speech at  the not-so-recent Inc. 500/5000 conference I attended at the beginning of October. Guy offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. I am (and have been for several months) in the middle of summarizing those points and discussing how they are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).  And, in the meantime, you should get Guy’s book, “Enchantment” for the total skinny.

Step 6 is to endure.

Easier said than done, right?  If starting a successful company is difficult, keeping one from going out of business is next to impossible. Being an “Apple Guy” (pun intended again), Guy refers to Apple, Inc. as a perfect example of this step.  Apple launched as a computer company at the dawn of the personal computer age and for a long time struggled to find its “place.”  Even while Bill Gates and Microsoft were “borrowing” the GUI interface of the Mac for their own Windows operating system, Apple was trying to compete against Windows in terms of providing office applications like spreadsheets, word processing, and databases. Unfortunately for Apple, Apple computers simply didn’t perform those tasks as well as Dos/Windows based systems.

Then along came desktop publishing, and Apple found its first niche. Guy said during the conference that if it hadn’t been for “desktop publishing” Apple would have gone out of business decades ago.  Wow! That’s an amazing thing to think about when one considers the valuation of Apple today — a 2-to-1 favorite to, perhaps one day, be the first company with a trillion dollar valuation. Yes, you could say Apple has endured.

So even if your business or book isn’t a blockbuster right out of the gate, persevere. Keep at it.  Your “aha moment” (or in Apple’s case, their “ipod moment”) could be just around the bend.

Outskirts Press is enduring, and yes, even thriving. We recently landed on the Inc. 500/5000 list for the 4th consecutive year and I spend a good portion of my time responding to investment companies and brokers who want to give us money that we don’t need.   All this in a tricky, passionate competitive environment where some of our competitors offer for free what we  charge money for. How do we do it?  The easy explanation is that some people drink tap water and some drink Perrier.  People are willing to pay for something that is better if they are informed of the advantages, particularly when it comes to what they put in their bodies, or how they publish the manuscripts they have spent a year or more writing.  That’s a long time and a lot of hard work to just simply “throw up onto the Internet” and hope it sticks. Most people realize their chances for success are greatly improved with professional help.

The more complicated explanation for how we do it has been covered over the course of this “Guy Kawasaki” series of posts about high-quality, customer service, and yes, enchantment.

Step 7 to follow…

Guy Kawasaki Step 5 to Enchantment

Okay, back to the Guy Kawasaki speech at  the not-so-recent Inc. 500/5000 conference I attended at the beginning of October. Guy offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. I am (and have been for 2 months) in the middle of summarizing those points and discussing how they are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).  And, in the meantime, you should get Guy’s book, “Enchantment” for the total skinny.

Step 5 is to overcome resistance.

The easiest way to overcome a potential customer’s resistance to use your service or product is to provide social evidence that other people are using it and enjoying it– that it is helping other people and/or solving their problems. Facebook is a great way to provide social proof or “likeability.” In fact, Facebook has a “like” button for exactly this purpose.  At the time of my writing this (January 8, 2013), Outskirts Press has nearly 8,000 “likes” on our Facebook page (7,943, to be precise, but who’s counting?).   When authors visit our Facebook page, they are greeted by a friendly, helpful, upbeat community comprised of their peers, many of whom have successfully published with Outskirts Press and are excited with their high-quality book!  That is social evidence in a nutshell.

But don’t just rely upon Facebook. Customer testimonials are tried and true, and offer compelling social evidence that other, real people, are using your product and service with great results.  Weight loss products and services have been using this tactic for years, although they lose a lot of their credibility when they have that little disclaimer at the bottom stating “Results are not typical.”   Why not share lots and lots of typical comments instead?

That’s what we do with our author testimonials. We have been publicly sharing two new author testimonials each week for as long as I can remember on the testimonials page of our website, and to be frank, our testimonials are “backing up,” which means two per week isn’t frequent enough.  So starting in January, we are increasing that output to four new author testimonials every week.  Sharing the successes of others with your new potential clients or customers is a great way to overcome their resistance, and a great way to enchant them.

 

Guy Kawasaki Step 4 to Enchantment

Okay, back to the Guy Kawasaki speech at  the recent Inc. 500/5000 conference, where Guy offered an informative session about cultivating and maintaining “enchantment” in your customers or clients. I am in the middle of summarizing those points and discussing how they are applicable for us at Outskirts Press so perhaps they can also help you apply the information to your own entrepreneurial efforts (starting a business, running a company or yes, even marketing a published book).  And, in the meantime, you should get Guy’s book, “Enchantment” for the total skinny.

Step 4 is to tell a compelling story.  This involves using salient talking points and “planting many seeds.” By this, I presume Guy is referring to nurturing potential clients with access points to the story, and this is somewhat related to Step #2, which was to achieve trustworthiness by establishing a rapport with the customer or client. If the compelling story you share holds relevance for the customer or client, they are that much more liable to like you and trust you because they recognize similarities between your story and their own situation. Ergo, you must be the solution to their immediate problem, because at one point in time, you were in the same position they are in now.

Compelling stories personalize businesses and companies.  It’s been said before that people like doing business with other people, they are forced to do business with companies.  Companies can be cold and driven by heartless concepts like profitability and analysis whereas people at companies can be sympathetic, empathetic, supportive, and nurturing.   Of course businesses need to stay profitable in order to remain in business, but customers don’t want to think about that. They want to know how the people at that company are going to help them.  Knowing the stories of the people in that company, or the story behind how the company was started, can help enchant those potential customers or clients to that company by better knowing its people.

I feel that many of our authors at Outskirts Press find our story compelling, because it’s easy to recognize similarities.  Unlike all our major competitors, Outskirts Press was not started by identifying a changing landscape in the publishing industry and putting techno-geeks on the case to create a website capable of publishing thousands of books a day for pennies and therefore making money on volume.  It’s hard for anybody to identify with that!  How can a CEO who initially started open source programming software be asked to empathize with writers? How can a CEO who was previously the president of a security and antivirus company understand what a writer is going through? How can a computer science and electrical engineer possibly understand the nuances of publishing a beautiful, award-winning book? Sure, they can all program an automated piece of software where you submit a Word document, and ten seconds later your book is vomited onto your computer screen… but is that what a real author wants?

The compelling story of Outskirts Press is one of our biggest competitive advantage in the face of fairly daunting competitors, each of them run by CEOs who don’t have an ounce of writing passion in them. I am a writer. I know what it means to be frustrated by the publishing gatekeepers, to be up all night in the wake of a creative burst of energy, and to wrack my head against writer’s block.  That artistic passion and fervor for the art of writing is apparent in everything we do at Outskirts Press. Authors who take their books seriously recognize that. It’s very compelling to them.  It helps them become enchanted with us.

What is your compelling story?  By identifying it, you just may discover what your biggest competitive advantage is.

Cyber Monday at Outskirts Press

Since we’re currently in the middle of a series of posts about Guy Kawasaki (the proclaimed “evangelist of Apple), it’s not too far removed to take a small intermission today to mention the “Cyber Monday” special we are offering at Outskirts Press on one of our Apple options. In this case, the option is our iPad/iPhone Premium Edition e-book option, which includes a private label ISBN and iBooks distribution.

Since Cyber Monday deals have to be huge, we’re offering a whopping 50% on this popular option for one day only (today) with the promotion code CYBERAPPLE entered in during check-out.   This is an option we offer to all others, regardless of whether they have published their book with Outskirts Press or elsewhere (or haven’t yet published their book at all and want to enter the e-book game), so it really represents a great opportunity for all authors.  If your book isn’t yet on the iPad and distributed through iBooks, this is your chance to make it happen, and enjoy an amazing discount at the same time.  All the details are on our Outskirts Press blog by clicking here.