Running your business to make money: The Happy Apple

2008-05-26 00:00

Forty years ago, I went to see a West End farce called The Happy Apple. The play is set in an advertising agency’s London offices and centres round a "blonde" receptionist who forgets to send her boss’s market survey through to the Nielson research agency.

Realising her mistake and in fear of losing her job, she decides to complete the Nielson questionnaire herself with an amazing outcome. It turns out that the receptionist’s interpretation of the survey questionnaire was incredibly accurate in relation to the general population and the agency’s recommendations to the client, based on her assessment, are extremely successful. To cut a long story short, the agency finds out that all the data was solely the receptionist’s opinion and they decide to call her the "happy apple" — a person who perfectly represents the average consumer.

Now, why have I explained the background of this play to you?

Well, quite simply, the farce is a tongue-in-cheek ridicule of the grand world of advertising agencies. The play sets out to make the point that vast sums of money are spent in researching questions that could as easily be answered using little more than common sense and the obvious.

More often than not, what you want is what your customers want. What irritates you also irritates your customers. What you would run out to buy is what they will run out and buy.

What I am talking about here is empathy — putting yourself in the shoes of your customers and positioning your major business decisions around what your customers want and need.

If you can process this type of thinking on a regular basis within your business in respect of both product and service, you will produce an abundance of new ideas — innovation.

What you will produce is creative opportunity to produce more money. This thinking represents the first stage of a process for making your business more creative, innovative and customer-driven.

The second stage of this process is just as important as the first and has everything to do with making money. Last week, I used the IPL Twenty20 cricket tournament as a wonderful example of innovation and creativity.

I haven’t got all the background as to how this concept was originated and developed, but I bet it didn’t come about from a committee sitting around the table and asking, "How can we develop world cricket?".

Most likely, IPL was born out of the mind of an entrepreneur who is driven by making money — an individual who constantly looks at the status quo and asks: "Where are the opportunities? What do the customers want?".

Out of this type of inquiring mind comes profit, cash, money — the dynamic that drives the innovative and creative entrepreneur. Stand up and take a bow, Sol Kerzner.

So many businesses are repetitious because they become locked into their products and services. You have to believe in a future that you make happen as opposed to passively accepting one that simply happens.

The successful entrepreneur is driven by producing wealth — money.

As I mentioned last week, I wrote a book entitled Money Is Not A Dirty Word.

If you and your company are driven to produce more wealth, you will naturally find yourself evaluating the future in respect of opportunity via fulfilling the needs of your existing and potential customers.

This is the very foundation on which Twenty20 cricket was created: a four-hour family extravaganza. The success is seen at the grounds, which are packed with thousands of people, whole families are coming to watch a new form of cricket. Friends who never watch cricket are excitedly asking if you saw last night’s match.

I suggest that similar opportunities surround your business, your products and your services. You just need to look and ask: "How am I going to make this happen?".

frankgreenfield@iafrica.com

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