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The Pennsylvania Railroad could have easily purchased FORD Motor Company when they were a start-up company.
They decided not to because they were in the train business.

When the airline industry was starting out, The Pennsylvania Railroad could have created an alliance or easily purchased all of the fledgling airlines but they did not because they were in the railroad business.

They didn't see that they were really in the transportation business and how that this could have been another revenue stream.

They were so big that they didn't realize or couldn't they see the business they were truly in.

Their inability to see the future and trends toward the future cost them their market and their company.

In 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with their rival the New York Central railroad to form Penn Central Transportation. The ICC required that the ailing New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad be added in 1969.

A series of events including inflation, poor management, abnormally harsh weather conditions and the withdrawal of a government-guaranteed $200-million-dollar operating loan forced the Penn Central to file for bankruptcy protection on June 21, 1970.
An alliance with either the auto market or an airline company would have allowed the Pennsylvania Railroad to survive and thrive.

What business are you in?
Are you in the printing business or in the information business?
Should you form an alliance with a new high tech company that could propel you into the digital asset management business?
Should you be helping companies in a digital way when their printing functions becomes a commodity.
Do you have a unique selling proposition or more correctly a unique buying proposition?

A buying or selling proposition that truly has a unique value to the customer?
What motivates your prospects to pull the trigger and buy from you?

If you do not have a unique buying or selling proposition then you fall in to the category where you must compete on price.

When a business falls to the level that they compete on price, they become a commodity in a bloody competition.

Learn to become focused on segments and sub segments of sub segments.

The book the “The Long Tail” shows you that the real dollars are in the smallest niches.

If you stay inside the box you will be dealing with the mindset of Harry Warner of Warner Brothers Pictures who in 1927 said; “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk!”
Grover Cleveland, president of the United States who said; “sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.”
Charles Duell, Director of the US Patent office in 1889, who said “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

The list can go on and on, but the point is that there is a box you work in and if you are too close to your business, it is hard to see the opportunities in front of you.

Value propositions have more to do with profits than any other aspect of your business.

Value approximates profit - The higher the value, the higher the profit.

  • Define your niche in a tight and focused effort to position yourself as number one or number two on you niche. Anything lower will not work.
  • Stress value, not price in your marketing. When you focus on the value you offer, that is when you excel and when prospects buy.
  • Determine the three or four profit centers that will bring the most to your bottom line. Focus on those centers.
  • Don’t build your business from the operations side up; build it from market side down.
  • Make your competition irrelevant. Take people where they have never been before and they will love you. Develop a clear and high value strategic excellence position.
  • Build performance with a clear vision, a clear mission and strong leadership to get execution. When your employee gets bogged down, the mission or core philosophy of the company will direct them back onto the path you desire
  • Manage change so that you innovate and migrate through your values as you stand for something.
  • Have your antennas up, always looking for opportunities by examining innovation and how your company can fit into the new technologies.
  • Paint a picture of where you are headed, offer a tangible image of your future that your people will want to work in that environment. If your people can articulate the vision and mission and an employees roll in accomplishing what customer problems are, and solve them, then you will empower your employees to excellence.
  • Involve as many employees in the process as possible, if employees are involved in the process and they all come to agreement on the plan, the direction and the vision of the company, they will get excited about the implementation of the company. People will be committed to that which the feel they have participated in and they will turn around and implement it.

If you look at Microsoft, they migrated from windows 1.0 as a software company to the Windows 8 that we see today.

They progressed through stages of technology to position themselves as one of the largest internet based companies we know today.

Will they continue to be visionaries of the future or will they become a sector that cannot move like the Pennsylvania Railroad did?

They missed on social media as did the online giant Google who was surprised by Facebook and Twitter.

Ask yourself what your brand assets are?

  • What are the experiences at the end of the day when your customers have walked away from utilizing your products or services?
  • What is that total experience?
  • Is it the product itself, or is it the product combined with the experience?
  • Could it become things like the warranty or the service on the back end?
  • Do you send your customer calls to India and if so, does this frustrate your clients?
  • Does your company offer the highest value with the least amount of barriers?

That is a question you need to be asking yourself.

Where is the low hanging fruit, who has the most compelling reason to use your product?

Focus on delivery systems, referral marketing distribution, sales forces and the web experience.

All of these are touch points of ways to niche your products.

As you hit the inevitable speed bumps, return to your vision.
A clear and tangible vision.
Like JFK who had a vision to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

It happened in 9 years because every employee at NASA held that clear vision as the bumps came along.

  • Measure to see if you are progressing.
  • Create a plan and the steps that will get your company to the goals needed to reach your vision.
  • Start with the strategies that have the highest impact that your company has the capabilities to do.
  • Action plans are great but a good look at the barriers and obstacles that are in the way and the elimination of these barriers will go faster and farther if focused on first.
  • Where are your inefficiencies?
  • In the 1980’s Japan could get a car from concept to production in 20 months with very high quality.
  • US automakers took close to 4 years to do the same process.

Before Detroit could do it once, Japan could do it twice. That is efficiency and America is still struggling to catch up.

There are four ways to create a strategic excellence position;

  1. Reduce complexity
  2. Eliminate waste
  3. Raise the standard
  4. Create something new.

Socially responsible enterprises are on the forefront of marketing to the population that is 30 years old and under.

Is your company being socially responsible?

“Sustainability is the ability to meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.” Mark Gunther - Fortune Magazine