Hone Your Message

I participated in a teleconference yesterday led by Jaynie L. Smith and William G. Flannagan. They are the authors of a very important business book, “Creating Competitive Advantage.” I reviewed this book on my blog a few months ago (Click here for the review) and so I was intrigued to receive an e-mail solicitation to dial in for the teleconference. I’m glad that I did!

As many of you know, I worked in music publishing for 30 years. So, I am well attuned to watching how authors and publishers produce and promote their products. Most of the really good business books that I have been reading lately have a few things in common:

1) The have a very sharp, clearly defined message.

2) The have excellent websites set up to offer support, extended content, multimedia features and the opportunity to interact with the author(s).

3) An author who truly is passionate about their subject and is excited to communicate their message.

Jaynie L. Smith is a perfect example of this need breed of media savvy authors. The website (and now selective teleconferences) that she offers in support of her book “Creating Competitive Advantage” is first rate. Click here to check out her website – www.smartadvantage.com.

Okay – back to the teleconference. Ms. Smith talked about interviewing David Neeleman, the founder and CEO of JetBlue Airlines. Mr. Neeleman is a great leader and a remarkable innovator. Check out his personal blog – or flight log as he calls it – to see what I mean! I LOVE his introduction:

Hi I’m David Neeleman, Founder and CEO of JetBlue Airways.

Each week I fly on JetBlue flights and talk to customers so I can find out how we can improve our airline. This is my flight log.

WOW! How many CEO s or Senior Executives of any company – of any size – actually seek out their customers or experience their products as the customer experiences them? Very, very, very few.

How about you? When is the last time that you rolled up your sleeves and worked the floor? Or went out on a real sales call? Or asked your customers, “How are we doing?”

Try it – you may find that you like it. And… you might find your “Competitive Advantage” in doing so!

On the teleconference, Jaynie L. Smith mentioned something that David Neeleman said to her during the interview that had stuck with her:

“Each week, key managers and I have a three-hour conference call to discuss what are we doing, what they (competitors) are doing, and how can we do it better.”

That is a terrific strategy and it helps to pinpoint why JetBlue Airline stands out from the other airlines. Southwest Airlines also stands apart from the rest. It is worth pointing out that David Neeleman once worked for Southwest Airlines – he learned a lot during his short stay there!

1) What are we doing? – (that makes a difference for our customers)

2) What are our competitors doing? – (that is attracting some business that we would like to get)

3) How can we do it better? – ( to attract those customers now shopping with our competitor to give our product / service a try)

These are three powerful points that I am incorporating into my own consulting practice and will be sharing with my clients.

After the teleconference yesterday, I picked the book out of my bookcase to find the interview with Mr. Neeleman. It is interesting to note that when I originally read the book, I did not underline or circle these points. It took a teleconference to point them out to me. I’m glad that I responded to the invitation to participate!

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