A Not-So-Secret Business Success Formula

business ideasWhen you start your own business, it can sometimes seem as though you are on a journey into an unknown and foreign land. It’s common when you’re in unfamiliar territory to seek a guide or a map.

If you’re searching for a simple, easy to use “business success formula” I’m going to lay it out – right here and now… for free!

The formula for business success is actually maddeningly simple:  put together a sound marketing strategy and then implement it.

Ah- creating the marketing strategy … that’s the “tricky” part.  But it doesn’t have to be tricky nor is it a secret.  Developing a marketing strategy is as easy as answering the following questions:

  • What is it you want to sell?
  • Who would want to buy it?
  • Why would they want to spend money buying it?  (What problem does it solve?  What goal does it help them achieve?  What desire does it satisfy?)

Once you’ve answered those three questions – the “marketing strategy” comes in.

  • Create marketing materials to let those people know the product/service is available.
  • Find out where do those people hang out.
  • Place your marketing message in front of those people.

This truly the Not-So-Secret Formula for Business Success.

When businesses don’t succeed – like say GM – usually the failure has it’s roots in losing track of one of the basic tenets above.  In the case of the “Big Three” automakers – they lost their way at point #2….

Who would want to buy it?

General Motor’s problems became apparent back in the 1970’s.  The oil embargo drove gas prices up – and lines began to form at gas stations.  Scarcity was limiting supply and driving up prices – and people began reacting to the change in the “rules” which governed their world.

Americans had a problem in the 70’s – filling up their fuel tanks was taking up more of their income – leaving less to spend on white suits, hair styling products and disco balls.

Those same Americans – who were thought to love big cars with big, gas guzzling engines –  began seeking fuel efficient cars as a solution.  GM, Chrysler and Ford weren’t making fuel efficient cars – but automakers in Japan and Germany were.  See, gas prices had always been higher in Japan and Europe than they were in America.  As a result, foreign automakers were already well versed in the art of creating fuel efficient cars that people WANTED to buy and drive.

However, American auto makers did not respond by catering to American’s new found desire for fuel efficient cars.  Instead GM and other US auto makers decided to attack this “shift” in consumer sentiment with the “buy American” rhetoric.  “Keep buying our cars – or you’re not patriotic.  They may cost more, not last as long and not be fuel efficient – but it’s good for America for you to buy our cars!”

Suddenly – it became “un-American” for an American consumer to decide to cast their “votes” in the market place with their hard earned money based on which car provided the best value.  We were to buy American made automobiles – even though they were less fuel efficient and less reliable than comparable foreign made automobiles.

In Disappointing customers without remorse – until the handouts begin

I can’t remember a time when GM cared about their pleasing their customers.   In the words of just about every business analyst on the planet – the reason GM isn’t making any  money is they aren’t making cars anyone wants to buy!

I love working with small business owners and this is why – because small business owners “get it”.  If they don’t, they’re bankrupt and broke in no time.

If you’re a small business owners – lift up your hands in praise!!!  You are uniquely gifted with the ability to see the look in your customer’s eye as they read the price tag on your product or service.  You can watch their body language as you make your presentation – and you can alter the course of your business accordingly.

The collapse of the largest auto maker in the US is no surprise.  It’s been decades in the making.  Poor strategic thinking – ignoring and abusing customers – resting on their past successes all played a part in the downfall.  It’s a problem in need of a solution.

The one thing I know for sure – the answer does NOT lie in the minds of government bureaucrats.   They have never had to “play” by the rules for business success and aren’t even aware that they exist.  (Cases in point – the DMV- the IRS – the USPS… need I go on?)

In chaos lies opportunity.

I can’t wait to see what amazing turn around American ingenuity will provide for this current tale of woe – because that is where the answer lies – in the entreprenurial spirit which made America great.


  1. “Have you driven a Ford lately?” Seriously. Pete and I are in the market for a second car, and it’s probably going to be a Mercury Milan or Ford Fusion. Not that Ford’s my dream car, but talk about pricing themselves out of the market, have you seen what Audi gets for a new vehicle? Yikes.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..ABOUT OUR LOONS AND THEIR PONTOON

  2. Kathy says:

    Well – you’ll have to be careful buying a Ford – after all, they’re not being “bought” by the government. (I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm because I’m laying it on PRETTY thick here!!)

    I think it’s a sad commentary when you say, “not that Ford’s my dream car”. WHY THE HELL NOT!!! Why can’t Ford MAKE your dream car? Back in the American Automaker’s heyday – they made “affordable” well made cars that people WANTED to own.

    When my kids were younger – they used to be fans of the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Corvette. Now that the older two can drive, they’re fans of foreign makes. My son is all excited over a foreign made car – I can’t remember which one. List price : $15K. It outperformed a Ferrari in some driving test. My daughter is loving the VW Jetta.

    I guess what I’m saying is it is not IMPOSSIBLE for an automaker to create a car that excites buyers for less than $25K. You shouldn’t have to pick between saving for retirement and purchasing a reliable car.

    US automakers have lost touch with their customer base. Unfortunately, an entity that is even further “out of touch” is taking over. It’s a sad, dark moment in automotive history.

  3. Totally agree with everything you just said. And guess what, a used VW Passat is now sitting in my driveway. There was just no comparison. I really, really wanted to buy the Ford. Seriously, if only as a reward to them for not taking the government money. But in the end, the Passat was the better car, loaded to the gills and drives the way a car should feel. Ford came pretty close, but no cigar.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..FROM THE ROAD: NEW FRIENDS AND OLD TREES

  4. Kathy says:

    Betsy- I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!! My father was a DM with Chevrolet Motor Division when I was born – and later owned a Chevrolet/Pontiac dealership!!! I’ve had “US made is good – foreign made is evil” drilled into my head since I was born!!! Yet, when push came to shove and it came time to shell out my hard earned money, I too have a VW Jetta sitting in my driveway as well!!! If I had to buy another car right now -a Passat would definitely be a finalist.

    Do I wish it were different? OF COURSE!!! Do I see things changing – especially with the “new” direction – unfortunately no.

  5. Well that’s the difficult part, putting together a sound plan.

    A lot of people like to put together a plan, but fail to test it, thinking testing will require too much time and energy. Well, without testing and modifying how will you know your plan is sound?

    Very true though, and labeling a plan as a “new direction” without a true vision, yikes!