• Chris Ward

3 things my butcher taught me about being top of mind, trusted and preferred

I’m often asked what owning your space actually means. The answer is both simple and complex. To be clear, the space I’m referring to doesn’t exist on any city map. You can’t plant a rose garden on it. And your GPS is not going to find it no matter what coordinates you plug in.


No, the space I’m talking about is the space your organization, product or service wants to own in the hearts and minds of customers, clients, members, donors and prospects…anyone who is important to your success.


Being top of mind when it counts

Every management team wants their organization to be top of mind when it counts—that is, when a prospect is ready to buy. The most successful have done a great job of convincing buyers that they are the place to go for certain products and services. But for every organization that has done this well, there are hundreds, probably thousands, that have not .


Take a business with lots of competition—your favourite butcher, for example. You love the way they trim their meats. The quality is exactly what you're after. They have weekly specials. And the sizzle on this steak is the butcher himself—a great guy who always remembers your name and cares about your business.


Very likely this wasn’t the first butcher shop you tried when you moved into the neighbourhood. It might not be the closest. But it’s the one you think about when you need a good steak...the one you know you can rely for great quality and fair prices...and so, the one you prefer. From your butcher’s point of view, being top of mind, trusted and preferred is what it takes to Own Your Space.


Owning your space means being top of mind, trusted and preferred

The same thing holds true for every for-profit business, and for most not-for-profits as well. It holds true for businesses that sell directly to consumers, as well as businesses that sell to other businesses.


Businesses that own their space have a number of things in common. In my experience, however, three that I've learned from my butcher are right at the top of the list:

  • They have clarity: çGet it right and you’ve got an excellent chance to Own Your Space. Get it wrong and you’ve got a better chance of being hit by a grand piano falling from a 30th floor condo;

  • They are focused. A single-minded focus on achieving one overarching objective, as well as a commitment to understanding and delivering what customers want / value, and a concerted effort to develop the right behaviours, will set your business and employees apart from your competitors.

  • They've got the right attitude. Attitude starts in the corner office and cascades down through the organization. Whenever you come across a company in which frontline staff aren't dialed in to their customers, you will, more often than not, find senior managers who exhibit questionable attitudes and behaviours.


Trying to pick the most important is a bit like trying to solve the chicken and egg dilemma. Having said that, if I had to pick one it would be attitude as it drives virtually everything else that happens in an organization.


In fact, whenever I think of my butcher, his wonderful attitude is the first thing that comes to mind. And even if you're running a trade association in regulated industry, a corporate attitude that encourages helpfulness and service can go a long way to overcoming the resentment that mandatory membership can create.

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