If you have been reading The Real Estate Philosopher, you know by now that our mission is to:
- Help Our Clients Grow Their Businesses
Along these lines, I want to propose an incredibly difficult – but at the same time incredibly easy — way to build your business to great success.
You have heard of an “elevator pitch” I am sure. Why is an elevator pitch so important? The answer is because people have limited attention spans and if you can’t explain your business to someone pithily – and instead ramble on and on – people will stop paying attention. They will nod and smile but not hear or understand or remember a word you are saying. But if you can nail it into a few strong sentences they will – hopefully – listen and understand you. This article is about putting this concept on steroids, with some dramatic benefits.
I advocate that whoever you are – whether you are Blackstone or two people in a garage with a startup idea but no money – you describe the heart of your business in just four or five words. In case you didn’t hear me, I advocate:
FOUR OR FIVE OR (AT MOST) SIX WORDS
No more than that. And, no, this is not a waste of time; it is one of the most important things you will ever do to grow your business successfully. Let me illustrate with an example:
Assume that your business is creating the most expensive and beautiful condominiums anywhere, with fantastic attention to every possible detail so that the condominiums are just plain old stunning. And people who want the absolute best will/should pay just about anything for them. Whatever town or city you are in, you always have the top location and the top quality. That is the key message. But you also want a reputation for honor and integrity. You want to reinforce your firm values of diversity and look out for your employees and make the company a fantastic place to work. And client/customer service is absolutely paramount. And your reputation is critical or it all falls apart. There is more but that is the essence of your company.
Okay – that all makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? It is a pretty coherent strategy. And to be clear I am not espousing it – it is just a metaphor here. But consider who you are giving that message to:
- People who invest with you – many people you will reach out to
- People who lend to you – how many times will this happen
- Township zoning boards and other municipal boards
- Employees – you might have 2 of them or 200 of them or 2000 of them
- New employees who have to be trained into the organization
- Prospective (talented) employees being interviewed and coaxed to join you
- Your friends and family
- On the internet
- Social media – including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and all the others
- Everyone else in the world
Okay – now imagine reading the above message to all those people.
Alas – you have a thoroughbred dog here – but it just won’t hunt – because the dog is too confused. Just the incredible amount of time you have to spend communicating this long message will make it unwieldy. People will mostly get the idea but the message will be muddled.
Instead, this message should be honed down to four or five or (at most) six words – some rough ideas might include:
- Building Super Quality Condos
- Building Better Condos Than Anyone Else
- The Finest Condos Possible Anywhere Always
- Condos – Cost Second/Quality First
- The Details Matter in Condos
- Nothing Else Matters
Okay, big deal, you might say? So what!
However, if you come to that conclusion, then you are missing out on all the upside that you just created for your company. Consider the following meetings – none of which the people running the company or trying to get their message out will be at:
- The first day of work for a new employee who hears ten times from everyone else at the company that “Nothing Else Matters.”
- A presentation to an investor that is easy to write and starts with the words “Nothing Else Matters” – states “Nothing Else Matters” throughout – and ends with the words that “Nothing Else Matters”.
- An interviewer to a super-star recruit who points out that if you join this company well then “Nothing Else Matters.”
- A zoning board hearing where they hear why they should approve the project because “Nothing Else Matters.”
- Social media statements always mention that at your organization “Nothing Else Matters.”
- What your salesperson says to a condominium customer when she is leading the customer through the building and the condominium. Mr. and Mrs. Customer, I am sure you will be so happy here because….“Nothing Else Matters.”.
- When someone is thinking whether to double-check if the toilet works perfectly for the seventh time before signing off on the condo for the customer. Maybe he would think that he should do so because……“Nothing Else Matters.”
With these three words, you just solidified the entire company. Everyone – everywhere – within and without the organization – knows what to do and what to say every minute. And whether or not senior management is watching, everyone knows what to do – all the time.
Now is this easy to do? No, it isn’t. It requires a lot of time to figure out exactly what you are as an organization – what you stand for – why you are in business – and everything else. And it is not a democratic process that people vote on it (on the one hand) but you want inputs from people at every level of the organization (on the other hand). You can’t do this in an hour. It will require your most high-level thinking.
But boy is it worth it. If your message is honest and really resonates what you are about, then this exercise can – and will – transform your organization.
What did we at D&S do on this front? Well, we have two messages – one internal and one external – as follows:
Internally: Attract, Train and Retain Talent (five words)
Externally: Help Our Clients Grow Their Businesses (six words)
When you get right down to it, “Nothing Else Matters.”