I think it was the late, great, Theodore Levitt who encouraged business owners and managers to ask “What business are you in?”
The point of course, is to think broadly and identify opportunities within your industry that aren’t available when you think too narrowly. One example that Mr Levitt offers is how the rail industry missed opportunities because it thought of itself as in the “rail” business and not the “transportation” business.
The parallel for our industry is that clubs tend to think of themselves in the “club” business and not in the “results or personal improvement or personal empowerment” business. The corollary of that is that clubs keep on being clubs and miss the opportunity to reach the masses.
But I digress…
It is critical that you understand what business your suppliers and partners consider that they are in too.
Here’s an example, we are about to run a radio ad for our new boot camp and the station sends us their first draft…it’s terrible! Too generic, wrong phone number, missing information…you’d think it would be impossible to make so many mistakes in an 87 word ad.
Why was it so bad? Well the radio executive I met with was talking up how good it was going to sound with all the effects and drill sergeant voice over effects blah, blah, blah…
She was all about the ad…and not about my business…she was in the “ad creation” business and not the “business development” business.
She couldn’t or wouldn’t share with me what kinds of response rate or take up rate I should expect, was reluctant to discuss similar campaigns from competitors, and wouldn’t listen to my take on the failure of recent competitor’s campaign…she was there to simply take my money and pass on my details to the on air talent who would create the ad.
Here’s the thing…just because they do it every day it doesn’t mean they are the experts. We will bring our “business development” expertise to the ad and simply let them create the “ad” which is apparently the extent of their expertise.
Disappointing…yes, but you have to be able recognize the strengths and weaknesses in your suppliers/partners businesses as astutely as you do with your own…or suffer the consequences.