Do you really know where you’re leading your business?

This is long, so feel free to skip it.


Yes, you—please take stock of what you accomplished in 2012. Did you reach all of your goals? Did you expand your business? Whatever you accomplished, I applaud YOU!

Now, let’s talk about your plans for the New Year: where are you leading your business? Are you on the road to greener pastures? Quick reminder: one of the main jobs of leaders in any organization is to find specific futures for the organizations under their care. So, the next question is: how do you go about doing that?

In my opinion, in life and in business, the road to greener pastures starts with articulating a powerful, long-term focus. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before, but have you ever paused to ask yourself: in practice, what does a powerful, long-term focus look like? Here’s my take on it: a powerful, long-term focus = an empowering story well told.

Quick reminder: Emotion is the mother of action—people move when their emotions are moved. (Search your heart; you know it’s true.) If your business is fuelled by an empowering story, you can accomplish just about anything. Without it, you, your key partners, your colleagues, etc., and your customers will likely not be sufficiently motivated to, day-in-day-out, take the necessary interest and action to propel your business forward.

Delivering an empowering story isn’t easy but it’s worth it, as you can truly own a defendable turf ONLY when armed with an empowering story well told. Case in point: BMW’s The Ultimate Driving Machine. Here’s how (a few years ago), Al Ries (the author or co-author of 11 books on marketing, including by many accounts the most important marketing book of all time, Positioning), quickly summarized BMW’s path to success in the US (still the most important car market in the world):

Back in 1974, BMW sold 15,007 automobiles in the American market, which made the brand the 11th largest-selling European vehicle. Here are U.S. sales of the top ten that year:

1. Volkswagen 334,515
2. Capri 75,260
3. Fiat 72,029
4. Opel 59,279
5. Volvo 53,043
6. Audi 50,432
7. Mercedes-Benz 38,170
8. MG 25,015
9. Porsche 21,022
10. Triumph 18,396
11. BMW 15,007

The following year, BMW’s new agency, Ammirati Puris Avrutick, launched an advertising campaign that would make both the agency and the brand famous: “The ultimate driving machine.

31 years
It’s been 31 years since the launch of the ultimate driving machine. So how is BMW doing? Not bad.
Last year BMW was the largest-selling European brand in the American market.
_ _ _

BMW’s fortune changed substantially after an advertising agency helped it articulate and deliver an empowering story, no? Maybe that’s why, ever since, they’ve been making one thing only: the Ultimate Driving Machine.

My 2¢:
Sometimes a remarkable product/service arrives with no story.
But for the most part in life, all great things start with an empowering story well told. It’s easy to forget that.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!
Jan 1, 2013

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