Business Strategy | Leadership / Management | Organizational Development

Your competitive advantage? Passion.

What's your competitive advantage? Why do people pay you instead of someone else?

Let's just assume, for a moment, that it's not your tax preparation services, or your financial advice, or your auditing skills. Anyone can do that stuff, and lots of people do.

"But," you say, "we're people-first! We're client-centric! We're committed to excellence!"

"Well, who the hell isn't?" Ken Schmidt retorts.

A former communications director for Harley-Davidson, Schmidt helped bring Harley back from the brink and create one of the most beloved brands in the world. In his keynote at CCH's first-ever Small Firms User Conference, Schmidt offered this single, harsh truth:

With very few exceptions, your customers don't care about your products, or your services, or your prices, or your boiler-plate "commitment to excellence."

They want your passion. They want a connection.

What makes people shell out $24,000 for a Harley when they could get a nearly identical bike from Honda -- with slightly better gas mileage -- for $8,000?

Here's what: Harley's employees are passionate -- and not just about their motorcycles. They're passionate about their customers' experiences with their motorcycles. They're passionate about connecting with their customers on the deepest, most personal level possible. They're passionate about making their customers passionate.

They're passionate. Period.

"Passion is the most magnetic and modeled of human behaviors," Schmidt said. "If you're passionate, the people you serve will be, too."

And if you're not? Well, that's your choice. But here's the thing:

"Competitors aren't eating your lunch," Schmidt said. "You're feeding it to them by doing nothing."

Here's Schmidt's bottom line: Be passionate. Be extraordinary. Be different. Be human.

What sets you apart? And think hard about it. That might be the most important question you can ask.


Bill Sheridan