February 26th, 2014 •
Comments Off on INsight: The Godfather and Business Wisdom,
by Bill Simmel (Part I)
This article focuses on business lessons that embody the wisdom of The Godfather — rules that all competitive marketers and branding strategists should heed and follow. Each rule provides insight and direction designed to help you align your message, strengthen your position, and expand your brand. The rules are gleaned from actual quotes found in each Godfather movie, including The Godfather: Part III (1990) which, although not as critically acclaimed as the first two, deftly plays out the saga of Michael’s dashed dreams, operatic self-destruction, and ignominious defeat. In some cases, the same or similar quote appears in more than one film – giving it added the dramatic importance.
My favorite film is the Godfather, having seen it well over 100 times including GFII and GFIII. I feel that there is truly infinite “wisdom to grow by” contained within the 8.75 hour trilogy. While, watching the Godfather trilogy, I often contemplate how Don Correlone as depicted in Godfather II was the ultimate startup-entrepreneur, and Michael the hard driven business owner seeking to expand the business. Consider my speaking engagement on this same subject→, but first read Business Wisdom from the Godfather. . .
Truly, we should be able to draw Business Wisdom from this iconic American brand. . .
Rule #1: Inspire Loyalty
Whoever first said “lead, follow, or get out of the way” must have been Sicilian. Maybe it originated with Cristóbal Colón who realized he didn’t have a chance of making it to the new world without a vision (finding a new trade route to India) backed by ample financing and a loyal crew. One cannot underestimate the importance of having a bold vision that moves and inspires others: it defines the very purpose of your organization, is a reflection of your culture and belief system, and serves as a barometer of the values shared by your key stakeholders. More importantly, a strong vision stands alone – independent of external factors such as market share, profit, or competitive climate. Since each of your stakeholders (e.g., customers, employees, prospects, management, investors, etc.) has a slightly different perspective, align your message appropriately in order to unite them under a single banner and a common mission. Engage their sensibility. Stretch their imagination. Invite them along for the ride of a lifetime. Finally, inspire their loyalty by focusing their hopes and aspirations on the same distant horizon.
“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” – Clemenza to Rocco, after killing Paulie (GF I)
Rule #2: Make It Personal
The old adage still applies: Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Your customer is the center of the universe, not your product. Don’t pay lip service…provide customer service. Sweeten the deal. Use a carrot rather than a stick. Go high touch, not high tech. Put a human face on your organization. Make your messages intimate and conversational, and use the magic word “YOU” with reckless abandon. Keep your promises and commitments so that it’s an advantage to become and remain your customer. One wonders whether PeopleSoft employees and customers will get enough cannoli to keep them satisfied in their extended Oracle family. Making it personal means conveying your passion and contagious enthusiasm, and letting your humanity shine through. After all, your goal is to build relationships, not sell widgets.
“Let us draw water from the well.” – Barzini to the other Dons, referring to Don Vito (I) and “Let me wet my beak a little” – Don Fanucci to young Vito (II)
Rule #3: Emphasize Solutions
Let’s face it; if you’re in business, you’re here to solve your customers’ problems. Become an indispensable resource and share the bounty. Communicate the benefits of doing business with your company, and find ways of contributing to their success. Tell your customers why they need your service now, and how you’re best equipped to produce measurable and positive results. Do everything in your power to make their job easier and give them peace of mind. Create an overarching brand promise that your employees, customers, partners, and distributors can take to the bank. Fulfilling that promise means achieving consistency and delivering satisfaction. Make a real difference in the lives of your stakeholders and you’ll capture not only their business, but also their loyalty.
“I want you to see what he’s got under his fingernails.” — Don Vito to Luca Brasi, referring to Sollozzo (GF I)
Rule #4: Play To Win
Who are your main competitors and what are their core strengths and weaknesses? What position do they own and occupy? How do you stack up? Is your main message cutting through the clutter? If you’re not sure, perhaps a little digging for market intelligence is in order. Since you’re competing for mindshare, it means uncovering your competitors’ vulnerabilities and exploiting them. It also means keeping score of your messages and making each one count. Beat your competitors at their own game or make them play by your rules. Competitive positioning is more than just putting a stake in the ground and claiming it in the name of Spain. What claims are your competitors making? Perhaps they’re on shakier ground than you think. Although you don’t need a Luca Brasi to do your bidding, it helps to have a team of reliable sharpshooters, or an automated strategic market intelligence solution, to monitor the impact and reach of your messages and the extent to which your competitors are making inroads where you are not. Get a grip on your main message, keep your eye on the ball, and swing for the fences. This is one of the few opportunities you have to focus on why you’re in business and what makes you a player in the business you’re in.
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”– Michael to Pentangeli (GF II) (actually from Sun Tsu and the Art of War), but not as sexy as the Godfather.
Rule #5: Know Your Competitors
How well do you really know your competitors? What makes them tick? Can you anticipate their next move? To do so, you need to understand their motivations, needs, and intentions. Study your competitors. Learn and borrow from them. Redefine them to your best advantage. To compensate for your own weaknesses, build alliances and pursue friendly “co-operations” as part and parcel of a practical marketing strategy. You can find common ground with anyone, even the Fanuccis in your market space. There’s a strange symbiotic relationship that exists between adversaries (e.g., cops and criminals, political rivals, hosts and parasites, to name a few). In the world of business, positioning is relative and in a constant state of flux: Predators devour weaker prey (SBC/AT&T); some fish band together (Chevron/Texaco); some eat their own kind (Enron); and others migrate to warmer, more protective waters (MCI). The ones that adapt to their environment survive – and that means being able to strengthen one’s competitive position even in the face of overwhelming upheaval and opposition.
Continue – Read Part II Now→
This was first published in Bill Simmel ‘s AdMarketingGuy blog: YourBusinessWisdom→
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Tags: Bill Simmel, Business