Three Words To Handle With Care

I’ll admit it -  I do it. It’s just clearer. You understand the relationships more clearly if I use them. We distill complexities down to labels for simplicity. But I think the labels help us forget that they’re people and instead cause us to see them more as a means to accomplishing business goals.

Customers

Employees

Owners

 

We’re all people.

 

Customers are not revenues. Do they have spending power? Yes. But they are not a means to profit. They are people.

Employees are not cogs to make the machine go. Do they work to move your business forward? Yes. But they are not a means to generate revenue. They are people.

Owners are not the blueprint or the gasoline. Do you design and provide fuel for your business? Yes. But you are not the plan or the powertrain. You are a person.

Original photo by Sascha Beck.

Original photo by Sascha Beck.

Sometimes our mental semantics aren’t a big deal. But sometimes they matter greatly. When we forget that we are people, we operate our businesses and lives like machines working to churn out a profit. We miss the uniqueness of those we serve, we miss the beauty in those we work alongside and we dismiss the value of our own creative hearts. We neglect the humanity in us.

You are a person. You, in your fullness, are not your labels. Neither are those around you. Don’t let people be boiled down to a means to accomplish business goals. Remember the deep, incredible humanity of those around you today.

Please know that when I use labels, there is an invisible mental asterisk reminding me that we are all people. You’re welcome to implement your own as well. I promise I won’t sue for copyright infringement.

Don't Assume A Thing (When In a Public Restroom)

I always had to poop before work. I would wake up really early, eat breakfast on the way, show up at the bakery and promptly poop before I clocked in. When working other jobs, I had time to do this at home, but when I worked at the bakery it was too early and my body wasn’t awake until I got to work. One particular day I went in and a patron was in one of the stalls. Despite the regular stand-off that girls (including me) engage in when you have to poop, I couldn’t hold it in and I went. I left the stall and then adjusted my clothing at the sink in front of the mirror. I hadn’t hit the water to wash my hands yet and that’s when she said it.

“Ugh, she pooped and didn’t even wash her hands.”

Original photo by Steph P.

Original photo by Steph P.

I stifled back a laugh and hit the water. I proceeded to wash my hands and left the bathroom. I hoped the woman felt foolish actually vocalizing something she didn’t 100% know to be true. Despite me being the one to break the unwritten stand-off rule, this woman got to feel silly in front of me. Such a trivial, low-cost lesson for her to learn.

You might have higher cost assumptions you’re making that might harm your business more than a little pink-cheeked embarrassment in a bathroom stall.

Some businesses just assume that potential customers already know their business’s strength. Since they assume this, their marketing strategies are centered around promoting other features that isn't the business's significant strength. It can be a frustrating road if you assume that potential customers know what your business's strength is. The simpler and more strength-focused the marketing strategy, the better. After all, you want to create expectations and meet or exceed them. Since your business isn't as well-known as Coca-Cola yet, you need to communicate well to potential customers and not assume anything.

A few tips on how to communicate your business strengths clearly:

  • Narrow taglines down to only the primary strength - Great examples: "Save Money. Live Better." "Eat Fresh." "Pizza! Pizza!" 

  • Fewer, simpler words in service descriptions - You can always move into using more esoteric jargon when a relationship is established.

  • A single image provides clarity - One single image that captures your strength can be more explanatory and enticing than many words.

The more you assume, the more miscommunications may occur, the more confused and potentially frustrated your customers will be. It is pivotal that you don’t assume potential customers know what your business's strength is. When you explicitly communicate your strength and what you will deliver, then customers know what to expect and will be satisfied when you fulfill those expectations. Serving customers well is one of the most rewarding feelings in business. In order to serve well, make sure that you’re not assuming a thing. Also important when in a public restroom.