Friday, July 06, 2007

Your personal standards are the key to your success

Over and over and over - you hear of the successful factory where the founder would daily tour his factory and insist on the highest possible standards. Not micromanaging, but just checking on things and correcting them.

Hewlett and Packard use to tour their organization daily - and called it Management by Walking Around.

John D. Rockefeller had an ongoing discussion, for a time, with a person who sealed drums with solder. Rockefeller thought he could do it with 16 drops, while he was using 22. The person kept working at it and they finally settled on 19 as optimal.

Earl Nightingale recounts the story of Dr. Benz (of Mercedes-Benz fame) who overheard one of his engineers say, "That's good enough." Benz hit the roof, "It's never good enough! That's what we're here for - to make it better. And tomorrow it will be better than that and the day after it will be still better. It's never good enough!"

That's the attitude you have to take with your own products, your autoresponder emails, your products, everything you do in your work and everything offer for sale. It's always how can we improve what we have and make a better product, an easier solution to that problem, something that hasn't been seen on this planet before - an extreme example of quality.

I used to get a mail-order catalogue from the Vermont Country Store - which deals in quality products that people use all the time, regardless of their packaging or marketing. They search out these products like the old country store sugar drops, salt-water taffy, soap you could bathe and also use to wash your clothes with, vacuum cleaners that keep working, clothes that are comfortable and hard to wear out... And that list goes on and on.

At an earlier day job, they changed CEO's. Since I thought we could improve the production of this warehouse, I sent him a letter. Essentially, I told him that I used to get their old catalogue and loved the unique tools they had - but now it was filled with a lot of stuff men didn't want or need in their garage or tool box, a lot of stuff for the home. That CEO replied to me that now they were shifting to home improvement items in order to compete with the big box stores.

But his problem was really in his perception. The Big Box stores didn't carry the unique tools you only used to find in their catalogue. After I put his letter down, I picked up another catalogue from Duluth Trading Company. They were stocking gloves that fit your hand and didn't wear out. They sold several different types of suspenders to hold your tool belt up. They stocked T-shirts which had an extra long tail in back to prevent "plumber's crack". And on and on and on.

So this company was filling the niche which my old company didn't. They simply moved into that vaccuum while that CEO was worrying about the big stores.

The niche didn't change, the company did.

They moved off of quality and serving their public with solutions they needed. They started selling "Made In China" solutions - one size fits all.

And so they laid off shifts and forced the warehouse manager to quit. Because they dropped their core quality values a long time back.

As you start your work, or continue in what you are doing, keep a weather eye on the quality of the stuff you sell. Make sure it is the best - and then make it better. Test, test, test your squeeze and sales pages. Figure out more ways to get your product in front of people - even if you have to give away free samples which cost you dearly to create. Once they see the quality and feel it affect their lives, they'll be sold.

But send your emails to yourself and read them like you've never seen them before. Take the view of your audience, your potential customer.

And keep working to make them better. Listen to that small voice in your head which gives you a new phrase or sentence to use instead of what you've put down there. Always improve on what you've created before.

Then you'll have your success - and the money you've wanted will be rolling in. For that is the way it goes. Money follows success.

But a quality product (or several) is what makes your success.

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