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Your Business Philosophy?  
Marketing Minute Subscribers Talk Back

by Marcia Yudkin

Copyright 2003 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

The Question Put to Marketing Minute Subscribers

"My company helps people in distress save their homes before they lose them via auctions to sharks," wrote a guy named Ike Okwuosa from San Francisco, introducing himself. "I operate under the abiding business ethos that a mutually beneficial solution for all concerned is a win-win deal, and 
every human interaction, no matter how innocuous, is a holy encounter. This way of thinking is reflected in my company position statement, 'Because People Are More Important Than Property.'"

Sincerity came through loudly and clearly in this statement. It got me wondering how many other people express a personal calling, a spiritual philosophy in their work.

Later in our correspondence, Okwuosa asked me a question I couldn't answer at first: "How about you, Marcia - what is your business philosophy?"

After thinking and thinking, I came up with two principles I hold dear: Integrity always matters, and excellence is worth pursuing for its own sake. These values have governed my life for more than thirty years. Yet I've rarely put them into words and never used them in marketing. They're simply who I am.

TALK BACK! Do you too have a spiritual underpinning to the way you do business? What is it and how does it affect your business strategies and interactions? Do you think it's better to convey this philosophy to customers or keep it to yourself? Press "reply" to send me your thoughts. I'll post extracts from subscriber comments for next week.

Responses from Marketing Minute Subscribers

Here are excerpts from many of the responses I received, very lightly edited in some cases for smooth reading.  You'll find my conclusions and advice at the bottom of this long page.

++  

In response to your inquiry about spiritual messages conveyed through a business philosophy, I have been inspired to state one because of the quality of woman I wish to reach.   My statement is "Empowering women to age with style."  I wouldn't call it spiritual, though.  It is more to describe a serious intent to a frivolous name (gorgeous grandma).   In fact, I use it as a header at my website as well as for my newsletter, HOT FLASHES.  The thrust and intent of the Gorgeous Grandma concept is to inspire women to age well through attitude and image.  And who is a Gorgeous Grandma?  She is any woman over fifty who believes she has her whole life ahead of her, not her whole life behind her.

Alice Solomon, Columnist, Radio Host, and Author of HELLO GORGEOUS! How to Find the Love of Your Life After Fifty! 
www.gorgeousgrandma.com

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Your reflection is so pertinent and so much in keeping with the premise of
the holiday classic movie "It's A Wonderful Life" (which, I confess, I
watched for the first time this past Christmas -- what I have missed all
these years!!).  The message:  How you treat people is much more important than the almighty dollar. You can be profitable, serve a purpose in society, and be a good person with whom to do business.

My esteemed colleague, Gary Hoover, founder of Hoover's Online, also confirms that unless your business vision / mission statement mentions: 1) how you will serve & treat people, 2) how you will bring your passion(s) to the marketplace, your business is doomed to failure.

Finally, my husband is in the car wash business here in Austin. His goal --
always -- has been to run the cleanest, most well-maintained, and safest car wash facilities in town -- if not the country. (I swear you could eat off the pavement they are so clean). He works very hard, hires friendly employees, keeps each car wash in tip top condition at all times, has good lighting, continually upgrades to the newest equipment, keeps the place painted, and promptly issues refunds when customers aren't happy or the equipment doesn't work right. 

As a result, his washes generate about 3 - 10x the income that his
competitors make.  Another great example!  Quality and caring about the
customer experience and having pride in what you do creates goodwill and good business.

Patricia Parks DeNucci, Writer / RainMaker, DeNucci & Co.
www.denucciandcompany.com

++

As Marcia had been my mentor for many years I can personally verify her philosophy of delivering excellence is practiced as well as preached.  My personal philosophy is far more spiritual - I believe the customers who find me are meant to find me and receive excellent value.  Those who remain oblivious aren't "meant" to get the message or the value.  Conveying this philosophy on my deg.com web page would detract from my target corporate/business market.

Marisa D'Vari
President, Deg.Com Communications

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I believe that everyone has spiritual underpinnings in everything they do, whether they want to or not. Each one perceives and acts based on what they believe, ranging from so-called nothing to everything. We are unavoidably spiritual beings walking upside down around this ball floating in the mystery of infinite space.

My rockpop band, "AsWeDream" describe ourselves as offering music "to intrigue and inspire" with "messages including hope, priorities, love, death and of course: dreams." So yes, our philosophies are conveyed in our art and business. I'd like to see a whole lot more spiritual elements acknowledged and expressed in our current dry, lop-sided and overly materialistic corporate cultures.

Mike Ososki
AsWeDream
Atlanta, GA

++

I think you have to be very careful with something like this.  The one you quoted is great, but I've seen others that I find offensive.  The ones that bother me are those that are clearly based on a particular religion, with the implication that other believers aren't nearly as holy.  It may be the most important thing in your life, but selling is about listening to the customer, not preaching.

Jeff Kenton         
Consulting & software development  http://home.attbi.com/~jeffkenton   

++

See http://www.adslogans.co.uk/services/commandments.html

I get all my suppliers and vendors to sign this and I encourage others to
use it.

Timothy R V Foster, Chief SloganMaven
ADSlogans Unlimited www.adslogans.co.uk

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After being very sick with several chronic auto immune illnesses for almost
20 years:

1. I learned I could respond to illness as a challenge I could meet, rather than as something that could defeat me.
2. I found I could use what I had learned in this specific situation and apply it to other challenges in my life.
3. I discovered I could show others how to use these same insights to be more successful in their own work lives.

Today, I'm happy to say that not only am I healthier than I've ever been, I've built my executive coaching business on these 3 ideas.

Rosalind Joffe, M.Ed., Principal
COMMONGoals www.Common-Goals.com 
Taking senior leaders and their teams from where they are to where they want to be.

++

I am a psychotherapist who specializes in the areas of divorce and remarriage. I began working specifically in this area after I had "recovered" from my own divorce. Because I know how difficult going through a divorce can be, I am very passionate about going the extra mile to help my clients. For instance, because I find journaling very helpful, I will make and give journals to some of my clients (with phrases and pictures specific to their situations) to encourage them to write out their feelings. 

Through this and other things I do, my clients realize my commitment. I do not do it however because it's good business, I do it because I care. It is not necessary to publish this as my business philosophy or to put it in marketing materials. As you stated, it is simply who I am. If I am successful in demonstrating my commitment and caring, my actions will speak volumes more than any words can.

Michele Diamond, LICSW, www.divorcestep.com

++

As well as being a mystery writer and the owner of my own publishing company, Covenant Signature Publishing, I am also a Christian and,
therefore, always try to convey some portion of spiritual philosophy, not
only into my professional business practices, but also directly within the
books I write and sell.

I consider it both an honor and a privilege to interact with other human
beings, be it receiving instruction from a co-worker in the office or simply
passing on a smile to a stranger on the street. People are very important
and life, itself, is irreplaceable. These two philosophies I stand firm on.

In my opinion it is of dire importance to implement even the slightest
spiritual philosophy into one's business ethics. (Without the spirit the
body is dead.) We all lead different lives and all do different things, but
the bottom line is that we're all in this together. And people need to know
that people care.

Tee Michaels

++

Well, I wouldn't call them "spiritual", but they reflect our personal thoughts on business:

1. We would love to have one of our products provide a solution to our customer's problem, but maybe it just won't. And if it won't, we don't try to force it to work just to make the sale! We will happily suggest whatever will work well, even it it is not our product.

2. We provide our products with everything they need to put them to use immediately. We do not advertise low prices on base models that really require a number of "options" or "accessories" at additional cost to get the job done.

We definitely tell our customers about our philosophy (some of this is on our web site), and some of them appreciate it a lot. 

Gary Peek
Industrologic, Inc. www.industrologic.com

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Yes, my business has a definite spiritual underpinning. I see what I do as a calling from God, and increasingly am seeing my role as caring for people - customers, subcontractors, anyone I come across. However I haven't yet come to a satisfactory way of summarising it for public consumption.

As a fundamentalist Christian I've come across many other Christians who do the most tacky things around - from Jesus bumper stickers to wacky slogans like "Serving you to serve God"! I want to avoid that kind of image, because it's often associated with insincerity and using religion as a marketing tool - which I don't want to do!

At the moment the sincerest statement of spirituality in the workplace is
doing work well, on time, and with care. I'm working on those all the time.

Simon  Young, Director, Simon Young Writers
Auckland, New Zealand www.SimonYoung.co.nz

++

Here's the philosophy behind my business:

Making a living should not interfere with building strong families, which are the foundation of a strong society. God is honored when we follow His plan for family life.

WorkOptions.com ultimately helps families. Family relationships are personal. So the framework I've outlined above helps me keep a personal approach and tone in my client interactions and business/marketing decisions. This personal focus/mission is reflected in WorkOptions.com's content (and lack of commercial distractions) to a degree. Based on site visitor feedback and client testimonials, individuals seem to "get" the essence of my mission.

Pat Katepoo
WorkOptions.com www.workoptions.com
Flex Your Work Time.  Reap More Life Time. (sm)

++

"Spiritual" is not (necessarily) "Religious." If we think of "Spiritual" as "Humanistic" in the sense of caring about others and wanting to convey and distribute, in a sense, that quality of our life-and-business-outook to people who hold similar values, and thereby maybe attract them as business clients, then I think it is fine. I think just "saying the words"-- and not following through in ways of communicating and relating to clients--is not fine. I also think it will show up eventually, either way.

So, if one wants to really spell it out in a literal way then they may attract people who value those kinds of statements--and they may put off others. If they have those same values and beliefs, they may not want to put it out into the world in marketing and they may still attract the same people.

Barbara Jacobs 
Barbara Jacobs Color and Design
www.integralcolor.com

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Two guiding principles for my business are (1)  I treat people the way that I want to be treated, and (2)  when I have completed a web site for a client, I want that client to be thrilled with the result, to feel that the finished product is exactly what he/she had in mind. 

While I don't articulate these principles in my marketing material, I always act according to principle #1, and I actually do tell people during our initial phone conversations that my goal is to create a site with which they will be thrilled.  I suppose I don't put these principles in my promotional material because I feel that, in this case, actions definitely speak louder than words.  

Barb Leff, LegalWebWorks
www.legalwebworks.com

++

I'm actually working on a business concept that is about 90% complete.  Its Culture/Philosophy Statement:

The Marketing Beacon will treat you with the utmost respect, delivering the highest customer care following absolute moral and ethical standards as taught by the holy scriptures.  While we will not impose our personal
beliefs on you, you can expect to receive straight-forward, honest, proven and ready to implement advice with outstanding value for your investment. Unlike most marketing businesses today, we guarantee all work.

William Russell, Principal Coach
The Marketing Beacon

++

My philosophy of life and business is I try to be ethical and seem to succeed thereby. I also try to be a nice person.  My good friend, television and radio talk show host, Joe Franklin, told me, "It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice."  I don't tell this to my clients; I don't have to since my reputation precedes me. 

Miriam Silverberg, publicist
New York City

++

I believe strongly enough in conveying the spiritual underpinning of my business that I've just written a book on the subject (Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, available in May or June of 2003) and set up the beginnings of a website and e-zine (www.principledprofit.com). I want to tell the whole world that not only do I operate out of ethics and integrity, but that their businesses will be more successful if they do the same.

In the book, I make a number of key points that I am hoping will actually change the way business is done in our society. Here are a few of the most important:

* Market share is irrelevant; the world is abundant and there's room for everyone to succeed
* You can actively profit from your competitors' success
* Honesty, integrity, and quality are far more important than quick profits - the Golden Rule actually WORKS in business
* As you create value for others, you build value in your own business
* The most important sales skill isn't even about selling

Shel Horowitz
Author, Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World

++

In my business dealings over the years as an executive in the industrial foodservice industry my business philosophy has always been "honesty at
all cost". When I was giving presentations in the Detroit auto boardrooms I would always be honest with all the facts, and you know what - I did lose some contracts by being straight up on the honesty issue, but over time it always paid dividends. 

On one occasion I lost out on a million dollar automotive contract, but a few years later the same purchasing manager (he didn't forget my honesty) awarded me a ten million dollar contract.  And you know what - you sleep a lot better than your competitors when you are completely honest with you customers.

Today's customers are a lot smarter and detect when you are not being
completely honest with them. You risk you companies future by being
anything but straight up honest in today's business environment. I will
continue to use this philosophy - "honesty at all costs".

Larry Fowler, President
ALLIANCE Purchasing Services Inc.

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I agree with you and Mr. Okwuosa . . . . . our personal philosophies are or should be our defining and driving motivation.  I do think we should share
them with our clients.  My personal philosophy or truth is that service
follows commission.  Because of this philosophy I perform the service first,
to the best of my ability, and let the payment take care of itself.

Brian Whiting
Century 21 Southern Homes Inc www.BrianWhiting.com

++

Who I am affects what I do. My spiritual foundation is exhibited in the way I conduct my business. I would want my customers to know what "makes me do what I do". I want to draw to me people of like mind and win over to my way of thinking the people of contrary dispositions. I don't advocate that one "preaches a sermon" however, as my doctrine prescribes, "as a man thinketh, so is he". I let my light shine and they see by "how" I do my business, who "really" runs my business. In the end, I am happy and my customers are happy too.

Judith Chapman-Ward

++

I do think it is important to give clients your philosophy. Maybe it comes from my years of doing clinical therapy, where I always explained at a first visit my philosophy as a therapist. I think it is important for consulting clients to hear it, whether they are organizations or individuals, as in the end it is individuals that we are affecting. If I was selling a physical product, I'd feel that way too. 

Here's what I put in my brochure: Laura McAlpine's philosophy of social change and healthy communities underscores the importance of:
* Problem solving through collective exploration
* Researching best practices and creating local solutions
* Valuing diversity and promoting human rights

Laura McAlpine

++

I think Mr. Okwuosa's Position Statement is good, and such statements are the obvious place to have your spirituality/integrity shine through. However one should avoid "overkill," which would immediately be recognized as disgenuious by those who have a spiritual life.

Spirituality as a "benefit" of one's product or service is a very thin strand; it should come through your demeanor, not your promotional materials.

There are obvious caveats, such as if your business is spiritual healing, massage therapy, etc., where folks are looking for spiritual providers. But even then, one of Tim's marketing axioms is "Why use a sledgehammer when a rubber mallet will do?" Make such references subtle; the people you're trying to reach will "get it."

Tim McGraw
www.persuasivecopy.com

++

I'm from the school of thought that what you focus your attention on expands. So if I dwell on the lack of customers walking in the door, suddenly foot traffic at Sign*A*Rama dwindles to near nothing. When I consciously or semi-consciously think about a customer who hasn't contacted us in a while, lo and behold, they walk in the door, literally!

We don't talk about this directly with our customers; it's simply too hard or considered to be too "voodoo" to discuss, but for people who have the same experiences, it's interesting to talk to them about it.

Paula Diaco, co-owner
Sign*a*Rama, Burlington, VT

++

My business brings foreign trainees into the US to learn about dairy herd management--and more importantly (as I remind them as problems come up), to learn about themselves and the world. 

I strongly believe that the whole world would have less domestic and international conflicts if we could see each other always as people first, and a nationality second. My own experiences in living and working abroad changed my outlook and way of interacting with people.

I think it influences the way I match the host farms and the trainees; the way I try to help them resolve problems; the way I interact with everyone in general.

Jill Stahl Tyler, Stahl & Associates
www.globalcow.com

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I do have a spiritual underpinning to the way I work, my job. And it's not
just because I work at a spiritual place - www.spirituality.com.

My spiritual underpinning brings my best self out in business interactions,
partnerships and strategic development. I pray each morning to bring my best to my work. I pray also to see the best in others. My relationship to a Higher Power, I call God, is what drives my prayer, spiritual study and
practice.

My prayer helps me go beyond my current skills sometimes too --  to be my most eloquent, understanding of others and helpful in the work environment.

I am comfortable sharing the honest, ethical and even spiritual vision for
my work with customers and with vendors. They find it refreshing. I believe that since my vendors and partners know the importance of the spiritual underpinning of our work - we stay on the same page.

Kim Proctor, Marketing Manager
www.spirituality.com

++

Our corporate philosophy is "You have two choices in life and in business.
You can either proactively choose to pursue excellence or you WILL by
default tolerate mediocrity. The choice is yours." I find that unless a
prospect shares those philosophies we don't usually have a good fit for each other.

Steve Clark
SalesWarrior.net

++

This is two-edged for us. As a non-profit giving workshops to parents about young children and media, we are driven by a calling.  However, so many people in this field are identified with the religious right, it is difficult to articulate our passion and differentiate ourselves.  We want the children to be free to find their own voices through more direct sensory experience, while others want to have more control over the young mind.

Mary Rothschild, Co-Director,
Ariadne's Children...Tools for Healthy Media Choices www.ariadneschildren.org

++

It's become apparent to me as I build my business (which has a strong spiritual component) that hiding behind ambiguous words that I think are "acceptable" from another's perspective simply water down my message. For example, using "stress reduction" instead of "yoga". If I can speak clearly and sincerely about the work I do, it's easier for other's to understand how it fits into their life. I thought at first the creation of a marketing message was about having it ring true for others. The truth, as I'm finding out, is that the message needs to ring true
for me first.

Megan McDonough, Business Yogi www.urinfinityinabox.com
Helping others work and live with ease

++

I think businesses are afraid to express spiritual philosophy as they feel
they will be held to it by a customer, and sometimes people make mistakes. As a consumer, companies that are willing to express such statements, always produce a greater level of confidence in me about their products and services.

Consider this - what if your doctor had never publicly taken her Hippocratic oath? Would you be as confident about her services?

Keianne Mantai, Marketing Assistant
Fleming & Associates Inc.

++

One's work is only an extension of one's philosophy...why not communicate it to your customers, partners and investors? It tells them that behind a sound business is a sound mind based on character and personality!

Mark Stanley

++

Reflecting your business philosophy in your marketing is not only desirable in all businesses but essential in those businesses in which relationship-building is a key ingredient to success. If your business philosophy shines through, you will be able to: 
a) attract customers who connect with your thinking, thus increasing
your chances of really enjoying your work,
b) create a uniqueness in your business to help you stand out from other
equally qualified competitors, and  
c) convey personality and particularly a personable approach - so
important for building memorable relationships.

Susan Lilholt
Campaigns Creative Marketing Services Inc.

++

The Holy Bible is my philosophy for all matters - business included. Not too long ago, I gave myself a challenge: to look at each person I encounter as a child of the same God who created me.  Wow - that makes for an interesting connection with even the remotest stranger!  

Just sign me - Shari in Alabama

And By the Way...

If you've read this far, you'll find value in my collected Marketing Minute columns - five paperback books that give you a compact library of ideas, perspectives, advice and examples on marketing.

Read more about the series. 


 

 
   
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