How are you known to your customers?

“The most valuable asset that any company has is its relationship with its customers. It’s not who you know; rather it is how you are known to them.”

– Theodore Levitt, Harvard Business School

I discovered this quote about 8 years ago and it has become my daily mantra. I strive to live by it’s principles.

So, this quote immediately came to mind when I heard the news that Governor Mitt Romney was suspending his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination. How was Gov. Romney known to many voters? As a “flip-flopper”; someone who frequently changed his position on key issues.

It is one thing to change your position on an issue after receiving new information or after considerable thought and deliberation. Unfortunately, Gov. Romney seemed to change his position based up the audience that he was addressing or as a result of a recent poll that indicated that voters showed a preference for a different position.

Leaders do not listen to the latest poll results. They listen to their heart. They speak directly; not from both sides of their mouth on all sides of a core issue.

In an article on, Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin wrote:


“From day one, his advisers knew his biggest vulnerability would be the charge that he was a flip-flopper — that he was at heart a moderate Republican, as he had run in Massachusetts and had shifted to hard-right stances in recent years out of political expediency.”

By now, you would think that every politician would be aware of the power of the video tape and the viral ability of blogs and YouTube to spread the news about the latest “flip-flop” from their opponent. Apparently not!

“The changes in position haunted Romney and gave McCain, in particular, a stick with which to club him. For the entire first half of last year, McCain aides doggedly and successfully drove a message, with the help of YouTube and old news clippings, that Romney had changed his stance on most every consequential issue.

The rap stuck.

Is there a business lesson that we can learn from Gov. Romney’s decision to suspend his candidacy? Certainly!

For example: As a business owner, how do you respond when a new competitor enters your trading area and advertises extra low prices? Do you have a knee-jerk reaction and immediately lower your prices to match? Many business owners do just that – usually to their peril. Do you confuse you customers by promoting your “full service offering” one monthand then jumping on the bandwagon of “extra low prices” the next month?

Are you responding to your competitor’s tactic? Or to your customer’s needs? The value of your business is built on developing your relationship with your customers – how do you want to be known by them? Use this as an opportunity to build on your strengths. Offer more of what your customers value – service, selection, customization, etc. Don’t be tempted to become another “me-too” low-price provider.

You may have to change your business policy to meet market conditions and changes in your customers’ needs. Be sure to employ the change strategically – not whimsically. Don’t “flip-flop.” Don’t do what is expedient for the moment – your customers will quickly desert you.

Learn from the mistakes that Gov. Romney made in the 2008 campaign. Stay true to your beliefs and to your customers. That’s the winning course to follow. Don’t change your approach to you business based upon a recent event or to match to latest ploy from a competitor. That’s a sure way to lose your focus and your customers.




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