Relevance Means You Continue to Matter to Customers

Ross Shafer was the opening keynote speaker on the second day of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives convention on August 14, 2014. Truthfully, I had never heard Ross speak before and I didn’t even though he has won over 40 Emmy awards. I wondered to myself, “What can association leaders learn from a talk show host?”

I was captivated by his messages woven through images, stories and humor. He offered sound advice and wisdom if one were to listen carefully, and I did intently. Here’s what I took away from Ross are 10 ways we can continue to matter to our customers when relevance is a moving target.

  1. It’s Not Who You Know–It’s Who Knows You.  You’re not successful because of you. It’s because the herd followed you. Relevant organizations keep their ears to the ground and know where the herd is heading.
  2. Be adaptive to changing needs of customers. Big companies are afraid of small ones because they turn a dime and adapt when big ones can’t. (This reminded me of the message in the book It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow!)
  3. Take a macro view, not the micro view. Know who you are and who you aren’t. It’s not our job to help run small businesses; it’s out job to expand the market and build a strong community.
  4. Notice opportunities that others miss. Use our peripheral vision to see what’s coming, anticipate customers’ needs, and deliver on them–even before they ask. (e.g., grocery stores offering hot Rotisserie chicken so customers don’t have to cook for dinner.)
  5. Assume the sale. Notice how Starbuck’s staff don’t ask “How can I help you?” when we walk in, they ask ‘What can I get started for you today?” because they know people want what they offer or they wouldn’t be there!
  6. It’s always about them and it’s never about you. Be “other-centered” and get people to talk about themselves. It’s what makes for a great talk show host and a magnet of people. “I never tried to be the best guest on my show.” –Johnny Carson
  7. Engage the herd. Facebook understand this well by asking their members to respond to this daily question: “What’s on your mind?” And people share, don’t they?
  8. Attract Millennials. Create an environment they want to be a part of and contribute. Give them a chance to shine, share and learn. Leverage their social media skills and let them post (they’re going to do it anyway) and their circle of influence becomes yours. After all, don’t you know that mentoring is out and advocating (for them) is in?
  9. Your Final Moment Dictates Loyalty. The final moment on a talk show is the story we tell and the emotion we create. Make it memorable. And sending out an evaluation after a program shouldn’t be the final moment.
  10. Your standard of loving is more than important than your standard of living. When our focus is on money and not the people in our lives, success means nothing. Leave a legacy and keep the fire lit from within by keeping those we love all around us. And customers actually want to know, “Who you are when no one’s looking.”

Ross Shafer received a standing ovation with over 1,000 people in attendance. When he ended his presentation with stories and pictures of his family, he emulated the importance of the Final Moment. We all walked away with the emotion of learning what it takes to matter to our members, our community, and to our personal lives. And isn’t that what relevance is really about?

Onward to our relevance,